Gaming ResearchGate

I think ResearchGate is a good resource. It’s in the mix with LinkedIn and Twitter on the spectrum of social networks for academics to disseminate their research.

As an external reviewer for promotion and tenure cases, I have seen achievements from ResearchGate included in candidate dossiers. I find this dubious because it’s quite easy to game the ResearchGate system.

To test this theory, I created a project on ResearchGate with links to Portwood Digital blog posts as project updates. This was basically advertising for the blog, like those South of the Border billboards on I-95 south leading in to South Carolina. Blog traffic definitely increased–ResearchGate must be full of North Carolinians looking to buy fireworks.

After five days of project updates, about one a day announcing blog posts I had already written, this achievement showed up in my ResearchGate notifications.

Clearly, I am outperforming my department colleagues. Merit-based increase, here I come! Seriously though, I have colleagues who do some pretty amazing work that is far more impactful than this blog.

Update: October 28, 2019
This achievement arrived in my ResearchGate notifications this morning.

I am outperforming the entire university in Eastchester!
End update

But, be weary of dossiers touting ResearchGate achievements as significant. Same goes for “Most Downloaded Article” achievements. Click, graduate students, click!

To be clear, this post is not a criticism of ResearchGate or its users, but rather of those who over emphasize its metrics.


Running Log of RG Score

November 25, 2019: 27.72
November 18, 2019: 27.71
November 11, 2019: 27.72
November 4, 2019: 27.73
October 26, 2019: 27.04
June 23, 2016: 23.08

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