It's awesome to connect with other like-minded science folk on Facebook, the world's largest social network, but sometimes you want to keep the talk insider baseball - and that means no interjections from your mom, brother and imaginary friends. Seriously.
Enter ResearchGate, the social network for scientists. It has just raised its second round of funding, led by Founders Fund partner and PayPal co-founder Luke Nosek. If this sounds like great fun, but the idea of another social network actually makes you want to stab a LOLcat in the tail, then just connect with your existing Facebook account. Unlike some sites or apps that use Facebook Connect technology, this one only requests permission to access your basic information, including name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends and any other public information. The world's science social network wants to include you in it, not study you for market research purposes.
The advantage to ResearchGate? Scientists can share their research privately. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are geared toward public consumption and posting of information. LinkedIn is more focused on professional networking. Google+ is ambiguously useless to the masses, save for the super nerds and those in the technology industry. Not so with ResearchGate.
This site is all about exchanging information. There are no ads to speak of, and the site also prohibits users from disclosing information to third parties. In that sense, ResearchGate is more like a hybrid cat-dog, a cross between social network and research-sharing platform. Of course, sites like PLoS allow scientists to share literature that they believe should be accessible outside of academic journals. And then there are science ebook sites like DownloadTheUniverse.com, which cater to both the science community and those with an interest in what scientists do.
ResearchGate debuted four years ago. It currently has 1.4 million members.