Researcher portals

A researcher portal is a website that attempts to list all the publications of a given researcher. Some portals also allow sharing papers, interacting with other researchers, calculating citation statistics, etc. Every researcher wants their work read and cited, so these websites can be useful tools for getting your work noticed. They can also function as a de facto home page if you don’t already have a personal website. Conversely, they can be a good way to find new work by researchers in your field. However, unless a site provides a relatively complete list of your publications, and covers a large proportion of the research community in your discipline, it is of limited value.

Lately, there seems to have been a lot of activity going on with various portal sites trying to get researchers to sign up for their service. Just this week I’ve had three different services wanting me to sign up. So I thought it was timely to review the various options. I’ll start with the two best options.

Google Scholar Citations

This week, “Google Scholar Citations” was publicly launched. Google Scholar itself is an incredible resource covering journal articles, working papers, books, and almost everything else a scholar might cite. Google Scholar Citations is a place where all the outputs from a researcher are listed. It provides a way of listing your publications, tracking citations to your publications, computing citation metrics, etc. There is very little work in setting up a profile. When I did it, Google had automatically identified all my publications. Nothing seemed to have been missed, and it even listed one paper I had forgotten I had written!

To see the profile of an existing researcher, just search for their name on Google Scholar. If they have made their profile public, it will appear in the search results. Some examples are Andrew Gelman and Scott Armstrong. My profile is also there.

To set up your profile, go to scholar.google.com/citations. You may have to do some editing of the results to merge versions of the same publication, or to correct some errors in the database. I have 142 publications listed and it took me about 10 minutes to go through and make sure they were all correct.

Hopefully, Google will use the information provided by these edits to correct their Google Scholar database, although that isn’t happening yet.

Mendeley

If you use Mendeley, you will already have an online Mendeley profile listing all the publications in your “My Publications” collection. My page is here. Whenever you write a new paper, or have a paper accepted in a journal, just update the details in Mendeley, make sure the paper is in your “My Publications” collection and your profile is automatically updated.

With Mendeley, you have to add every output yourself, whereas Google Scholar finds and adds outputs for you. But if you use Mendeley anyway, this is no extra work. I use Mendeley as the backend to my CV (it generates the bib file that is used in my CV) so the Mendeley profile is a side-benefit rather than representing additional work. Mendeley lists 152 publications for me — it includes a few biblical writings that haven’t made it onto Google Scholar.

A nice feature of Mendeley is that it allows you to share pdfs of your papers.

Mendeley does not track citations like Google Scholar, but it does provide some excellent facilities for collaboration. You can share papers with your contacts, and set up groups to allow for research collaboration and discussion.

All the rest

There are several other sites attempting to provide similar services, but none of them come close to Mendeley or Google Scholar Citations in useful features and usability. I’ve set up profiles on all of them, just to see how they work.

  • ResearcherID: lists 81 of my publications. This is one of the oldest options and I set up my profile a couple of years ago, and now can’t remember how much work it was. It misses my books, R packages, working papers and book chapters, but has most of my journal articles. Links to online versions of the papers are provided. OK, but limited compared to Mendeley and Google Scholar Citations.

  • Microsoft Academic Search: links 105 of my papers. This is Microsoft’s answer to Google Scholar. The database looks like it might be cleaner than Google Scholar, but a lot of citations are missed and my exponential smoothing monograph is nowhere to be seen. Also, working papers are missing.

  • ResearchGate: lists 74 of my publications, lists the “Journal of Epidemiology” as my top journal (where I have two papers) instead of the IJF (where I have 17 papers), and requires me to upload all my papers manually. No thanks.

  • Academia.edu: lists 58 of my papers and couldn’t find any more when I searched. So I would have to add the rest manually. Very limited information about any paper available. Why are they still in business?

  • iamResearcher: lists 45 of my publications, barely 1/3 of what I have on Mendeley and nothing from 2011 except for the MComp package for R. It also lists a working paper from 2010 which never existed, with a list of coauthors who have never written a paper with me. With a name like “iamResearcher”, I should have expected this.

Recommendations

  1. Ignore the emails from ResearcherID, ResearchGate, Academia.edu and iamResearcher. Just hit delete. Microsoft doesn’t really promote their site, so they don’t send emails to annoy us.

  2. Set up a page on Google Scholar Citations. It’s not much work and makes your work more visible. It also allows you to track citations which are useful if you apply for promotion.

  3. Use Mendeley and put all your own publications in the “My Publications” collection. Then spend 10 minutes editing your Mendeley profile so it gives a little more information about you.

  4. If you don’t have a personal website, use your Mendeley profile as your personal home page.

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