Even more academic databases

07/29/2011 by Sylvain Hallé

Breaking news: today (Oct. 23rd) I received an invitation to join yet (yet!) another research database: iamResearcher. I hereby officially give up joining all of them.

I already wrote a post a couple of days ago saying that there are too many academic databases around.

In the past week alone, I discovered two another academic databases: researchr and ResearchGate. As it turns out, I existed in those systems without my entering any information (or being told that such a page was created on my behalf). Of course, the information about my publications was incomplete and missed some of my papers, so I had to create an account, associate it with the papers that were there, and add the missing ones for good measure.

I could, of course, decide to ignore these portals, or pick a few ones and only update them. But I can't. Whenever someone gathers information about me that is not complete or up to date, I look bad. If the first link that pops up when you Google my name is that of some half-baked academic database that only shows my workshop papers and no journals, would you search further if you don't know me? Hence the need for a careful update of each and every portal that pops up. Maybe someday only one of them will reach a critical mass and eliminate the others. I wish. But before one wins you have to support them all. Think of it as a Beta vs. VHS war, only there is one new cassette format appearing every week.

Why this sudden interest for everybody to catalog my research papers? What is the added value each of them supposedly claims? Just for fun, I searched for the statement of each such database on their website:

To be fair, some of them have nice features:

However, as we see above, the "mission statement" for each of these portals is centered around search, yet their distinguishing features have nothing to do with search. To use an analogy that relates to... research papers, each of these sites could use a little "Related Work" section positioning them with respect to existing solutions in the field.

I would also be glad if any of these portals could provide hard statistics about their usefulness. How do they know they are successful? How do they measure it?

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