Getting the best experience, right out of the gate

At ResearchGate, our Community Experience team’s objective is two-fold: to assist and educate researchers on how they can get the most out of the platform, and to feed valuable insights back to our product development teams so we can be constantly improving the platform and helping connect the world of science.

We talk to researchers every day, and through these conversations, we learn a lot about their experience using ResearchGate. Many of the issues reported to us are actually well within the control of the researcher, though they may not realize it. Like many things in life, what you get out of it depends largely on what you put in, so here are a few things which we always recommend that can optimize your account and make it work better for you. Taking these actions after signing up for a ResearchGate account ensures you get the best possible experience from the start.

Complete your profile for visibility


Let’s start with a little quantum theory: If a researcher makes a breakthrough in the lab, and there’s nobody around to see it, does it make a difference?

As researchers know, getting results from their studies is only half the battle — getting those results seen by other researchers is the other half. There has been much discussion of the increasing importance for scientists and researchers to nurture their online presence. And it makes sense: the more your work is seen and shared, the greater impact it can have. So raising your visibility is key.

Your ResearchGate profile can present your work, achievements, and research background to the community. Whether you primarily use ResearchGate to showcase your work, to collaborate with others, or for networking opportunities, having a more complete profile is advantageous. Including basics like a photo and your current institution or company helps colleagues find and connect with you, and allows us to better suggest publications we think you’ve authored. And adding your skills and areas of expertise can make your profile more discoverable to potential readers and collaborators. This can also help you see more relevant job posts if you’re thinking about career advancement. If you’re going to have an online presence, make it as representative as you can.

Adjust notifications to assist you, not distract you


Nobody likes to feel overloaded with emails, and certainly not researchers trying to stay organized and on top of numerous projects.

ResearchGate is a constant hub of activity — citations are being added, questions are being answered, and requests for full-texts are being fulfilled by the authors. Many of these actions can potentially trigger a notification email. While every notification is important to some researchers, very few are essential to all researchers. In fact, you may find that the kinds of alerts you’re interested in receiving may change throughout your career. Perhaps you currently like to be updated about engagement with your own work, but you’re less interested in what a former colleague is working on.

Email Settings

The good news is your email settings are entirely customizable and accessible from your account settings. While clicking ‘unsubscribe’ at the bottom of an email only affects that one, specific type of notification, from your email settings you can control everything in one fell swoop. Simply select the kinds of emails you care about and deselect the ones you don’t. It’s another one of those tips that only takes two minutes and can make life much easier.

Review your research for accuracy


Connecting the world of science is a large part of our mission, and we know it’s important for our community too. Not only does this make your work more accessible, but you can also get an indication of its impact through your Research Interest, and by monitoring your Citations and Reads.

Stats overview

One of the most common problems we hear about from researchers is that their work has been wrongly associated with another researcher’s account. This most often happens if another researcher has a name similar to yours or one of your co-authors. During signup, we use a number of data points, including names and scientific disciplines, to suggest publications to you that we believe you’ve authored. It’s not uncommon for researchers to accidentally add publications belonging to someone else at this stage, especially if they’re rushing through the signup process. That’s why I always encourage new members to check their Research tab for accuracy. Here, you can easily remove anything that doesn’t belong.

The research you’ve added influences your home feed, network, and of course, your scores and stats, so ensuring your research list is accurate can result in a more personalized experience on ResearchGate.

Customize your network for a curated home feed


Researchers often tell us how important it is for them to keep up to date in their field, but this can be incredibly time-consuming. The ResearchGate home feed is designed to help you stay current. Here you’ll find relevant publications, Q&A discussions, project updates, and more. Many of the items that appear in your home feed are largely determined by the researchers you are following. So, if you’re seeing updates you’re not interested in, it may be that you’re following researchers whose work is not relevant to you.

Network

Bear in mind that to help get you started when you first join ResearchGate, you automatically follow your co-authors, but it’s possible you could be following researchers who mistakenly added publications that don’t belong to them (as mentioned above), or who have an outdated institutional affiliation. That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically review the researchers you’re following and ensure they reflect your areas of interest. Tailoring your network will result in a more curated home feed that reduces noise and promotes productivity.

Add a second email address for security


I’ve saved our simplest, and perhaps most important tip, for last. Every day, we hear from researchers who are having trouble logging into their ResearchGate account because they’ve forgotten their passwords and no longer have access to the email account they used at signup. This frequently happens when researchers get a new job or move institutions.

Ensuring you retain your ResearchGate access is important, especially if you use our collaboration tools such as Labs or Projects, or if you use your Research and Saved List tabs as collections of research. I highly recommend adding a second (or even third) email address to help future-proof your account. To do so, simply visit your Account Settings. It only takes a minute and secures your access to your work and connections.

Account Settings

 

 
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