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(2013-05-19 19:57:01)




分类: 阅读篇


 Social networking for scientists


Professor Facebook


More connective tissue may make academia more efficient


    Given journalists' penchant(爱好,嗜好) for sticking the suffix "gate" onto anything they think smells of conspiracy, a public-relations consultant might have suggested a different name. But Research Gate, a small firm based in Berlin, is immune to such trivia. It is ambitious, too─aiming to do for the academic world what Mark Zuckerberg did for the world in general, by creating a social network for scientists. And it is successful. About 1.4m researchers have signed up already, and that number is growing by 50,000 a month.

    尽管新闻记者喜欢把他们认为任何具有阴谋气息的事情加上后缀"门",但是一位公共关系顾问曾建议换一个名字。但是一家总部在柏林的名为Research Gate的小公司对这种扯谈不为所动,他们雄心勃勃,一心想为学术界取得像马克·扎克伯格曾经为整个世界所做出的那样的成绩,那就是为科学家们也建立一种社交网络,他们做的很成功。如今已经约有140万的研究学者申请注册,而且这个数字正以每月5万人的势头不断上升。

    Non-scientists might be surprised that such a network is needed. After all, the internet was originally created mainly by academics for academics and Mr Zuckerberg's invention, Facebook, got its start on college campuses. But though the internet has speeded things up, it has not fundamentally changed how researchers are connected. Academic communities are still pretty fragmented, frequently making it hard for scientists to find others doing similar research. And results often are not shared across disciplines.


    To make things more efficient and interdisciplinary, Research Gate wants to help the academic world to grow more connective tissue, as Ijad Madisch, one of the firm's founders, puts it. As on Facebook, users create a profile page with biographical information, list their interests and research skills, and join groups. They can see what others with similar interests are up to and post comments. They can also upload their papers and create invitation-only workgroups.

    为了让事情变得更高效并加强学术间的联系,作为公司的创始人之一 Ijad Madisch成立了Research Gate公司,以帮助学术界带来更多联系性的纽带。在Facebook上,用户创建一个生物图形信息为主题的主页,列出他们的兴趣爱好和研究水平,然后加入群组,就可以看见与他们拥有相似爱好的人在从事什么并发表评论。他们可以上传自己的学术论文,还可以创建只供邀请才能加入的工作群组。

    The big question is whether Research Gate will make enough money to keep its investors happy. So far, it is running on cash from Accel Partners and Benchmark Capital, two venture capitalists based in Silicon Valley. A third firm is expected to join them soon. But these people will want a return on their investment.

    最大的问题在于Research Gate能否赚足了钱来迎合它的投资者。目前,他们的运营资金来自Accel Partner和Benchmark Capital,这两家风投公司的总部都在硅谷。现在第三家公司很快就要参与进来,但是这些人关注的是投资带来的回报。

    Some of that may already have come from the Max Planck Society, which runs many of Germany's best research campuses and had Research Gate build it a private network. Over the longer haul, the firm hopes to charge companies and universities for using it to advertise jobs, and to operate a marketplace for laboratory materials. It has no plans to post other advertising, though,  nor to charge its users directly.

    其中一些回报来自Max Planck society,这家公司经营着很多德国最好的研究学院并在Research Gate上建立了一条私人网络。很长一段时间里, 这家公司希望利用一些公司和大学来发布工作广告并支付他们一定的费用,并且为实验室材料创造一个市场。它现在还没有考虑发布其他广告,也不会直接支付给它的用户。

    At the moment, most of those users are in their 20s. Their favorite activity is to ask each other questions about practical research problems, from DNA-sequencing techniques to statistical tricks. They are also busy reading each other's papers: more than 10m have been uploaded. (Most scientific journals now allow authors to post their work on "personal web pages", which includes profile pages on social networks, according to Dr Madisch.)

    目前,Research Gate大部分的用户都在20岁左右。他们最爱询问他人一些关于实用性研究的问题,从DNA压缩技术到统计技巧。这些人忙于沉浸在阅读他人的学术论文中: 目前已上传的论文超过了1000万份。 (据Madisch博士的解释,大部分科普杂志如今允许用户将他们自己的成果发布在个人网页上,包括社交网络的帐号主页)

    The service certainly saves these young researchers trial and error, and therefore time and money. They will probably also like a new feature Research Gate is planning to introduce in April: a feedback system which lets users rate each other's contributions. This would allow them to build a reputation other than by publishing papers.

    这项服务一定程度上避免了一些年轻研究者徒劳的尝试和他们所会面临的错误,即省时省财。他们可能也会喜欢Research Gate将在4月份发布的一项新功能:反馈机制–允许用户对他人的成绩评分。这会让他们在社交网络里树立一个良好的名声而不用出版论文。

    Scientists whose reputations are established may be more hesitant, though, and not just because they are set in their ways. Science is not only about collaboration but also about competition. This limits what people are willing to share. But Dr Madisch is optimistic. Those who have grown up with Facebook, he says, know that sharing will improve their research. And their older colleagues will eventually come around-or retire.

    对于已经拥有一定威望的科学家可能会有些犹豫不决,不仅仅是因为他们特立独行。 科学包含合作与竞争,这会扼杀人们分享的念头。但是Madisch博士对此并不悲观,他说:"这些从Facebook成长起来的研究者们知道分享会提高他们的研究水平。同时,他们年长一辈的同事们会最终认识到这点,或者有的干脆选择退休。



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