Hacking research communication: a new market to disrupt? | Journal Club 3.0
"The Internet was designed with scientists in mind, but it is only in recent years that academia related startups and web products have started to appear. This interest in the academic market was triggered by the rapid explosion of free MOOCs via various universities and startups such as Coursera and Udacity, prompting speculation that the current university model would be replaced by an online solution that would spell the end of nine o’clock lectures. More recent startups have turned their attention to the research side of academia. The number of researchers has grown rapidly in the last two decades and research output is now considerably higher. Over two million papers are published each year and academic staff and students attend conferences regularly to submit papers, display posters, share data and deliver talks and workshops. Vast quantities of 'research products' are created every year and these are being produced faster than they can be communicated ...There is a growing need for web platforms that facilitate communication between researchers as this will not only help with collaborations, but also with the organisation of data and operations within lab groups. A good example of this is Figshare, an online repository supported by Digital Science, which gives researchers unlimited space to post datasets, documents and media for free as long as it is publicly available (there are also private storage options). Figshare is also working with publishers to help authors share the data related to their publications, something that is now required by some funding bodies. Other platforms such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu have adopted a social network structure, indeed RG describes itself as the 'Facebook for scientists.' These networks each have around four million users and allow you to add your publications and datasets, in addition to other features that you will recognise from other social networks such as endorsements (LinkedIn), the option to follow others (Twitter) and common features such as a profile, a news feed and a jobs page. The full feature set for each of these networks is beyond the scope of this post (coming soon though), it will be interesting to see how they develop and how often researchers choose to engage with them to support their work ... In order to build and grow new web based platforms for researchers, teams and startups need financial support. Some, such as Figshare, are supported by existing publishers, others have received venture capital funding. ResearchGate received $35 million in a funding round led by Bill Gates in 2013 and Academia.edu received a second round of funding to the tune of $11 million a couple of months later. Other tools, such as the non-for-profit ImpactStory, are funded by foundations and public money. Several sources of funding exist for funding startup projects including competitions, government grants and private equity investment. One of the few that are specific to software for research is the Digital Science Catalyst Grant. This offers grants of up to £15,000 to researchers with software ideas that will benefit research; projects are funded for up to six months and individuals are not required to give up any intellectual property rights ..."