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Researcher Identifiers and your Online Research Profile

A guide to the various different researcher identifiers, and how to set up researcher identifiers, as well as managing your online research profile.

Online Publications Sharing Platforms

The rise of academic social networking sites, such as ResearchGate and LinkedIn, has meant that researchers are increasingly being provided with avenues to disseminate their research outputs and to connect with other researchers in their field. However, while it may be a good idea to promote your online presence, care should be taken as to which online site is used for what purpose, and to know the difference between what a social networking site is compared to the humble open access repository.

So what are academic social networking sites?

Academic social networking sites are just that….networking sites. ResearchGate and Academia.edu are the most popular and, similar to Facebook, they allow connections between researchers, and can build relationships and peer recognition. Many will allow research outputs to be included, such as publications and research data, which can further increase exposure to your research and in turn lead to increased citation rates.

However they do have limitations. You may be unknowingly giving permission for a commercial entity to use your details, or even worse, use your research (read the fine print!). And there is no guarantee of ‘longevity’ with these sites as they may be switched off at any time. Copious amounts of spam email is also a common complaint from many researchers, sometimes spamming on a daily basis.

Note that academic networking sites are different from social networking sites, such as Twitter and blogging, which can also be important for promoting your online profile. However social media, while great for communication of research and ideas, has limited functionality for an online portal for research outputs, and is not considered here. Avenues such as this should not however be discounted from your overall online research profile.

So what are open access repositories?

Open access repositories are usually either one of two types – institutional or subject based. Institutional repositories are by far the most common, and are attached to an institution (usually a university) for the purpose of those staff and students to upload their publication metadata, and where possible the full text of their outputs. The aim is to showcase the institutions research to a wider community, both nationally and internationally, as well as providing a platform for all institutional reporting. These are usually non-commercial, and run for the benefit of the institution and their researchers. The USC Research Bank is an example of such a repository.

Subject repositories are usually (but not always) non-profit as well, however they only house research outputs for a particular discipline, or a range of disciplines. This can create limitations for multi-discipline research areas. It is also sometimes unclear who is managing the repository, and who has the ultimate responsibility for any legal or copyright requirements. Examples of subject based repositories include arXiv, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) and PubMed Central.

Why would you use one over the other?

Both academic social networking sites and open access repositories have their place in scholarly communication. They serve two different purposes which means that you will need to evaluate what you wish to achieve out of such a service. Many researchers find that both have value, and can add to your online research profile by contributing and maintaining both.

  USC Research Bank ResearchGate Academia.edu Google Scholar Citations ORCID LinkedIn Scopus ID ResearcherID
author disambiguation

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

author profile page

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

publication lists

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ability to add publications manually

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

publication metrics

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

ability to upload papers

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

comply with funding OA requirements

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

comply with USC reporting

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

There are some points that are worth considering when setting up your online research profile:

  • What is your intended audience?
    • Researchers, funding agencies, employers, public
  • What is the purpose in setting up an online profile?
    • Increased exposure of your work, increase impact, expand network, potential job change?
  • What do you want to get out of your profile
    • More citations and downloads, more likes/follows/tweets/favourites, recognition of your work

At a minimum, all USC researchers should be contributing their research to the USC Research Bank. This is where all institutional performance reporting is compiled from as well as complying with open access mandates. In addition, making your works open access in the USC Research Bank will further increase dissemination as well as providing for preservation of your outputs.

However, it is also worth jumping on the ResearchGate/Academica.edu bandwagon as well if you want to further push your online profile out there. ResearchGate is perhaps more popular, however both will.

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