By Drew Thomas |

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, LinkedIn – Does the world really need another social network? I consider myself a pretty tech-savy person, but when it came to, I was always hesitant to create another social networking profile. For those unfamiliar, is a social network for academics, like a scholarly LinkedIn. With over 37 million users, it has rapidly expanded since its launch in 2008.

With over 37 million users, has rapidly expanded since its launch in 2008.

‘Will I actually use this?’, I thought to myself, ‘Or will it just become the best friend of my Google Plus profile, which was created and promptly ignored’? In the end what persuaded me was the large number of scholars in my field that had a profile. is like most other social networks, as you create a profile that others can follow. You can upload your CV, as well as your papers and articles. Many people love it since you can download other scholars’ papers free of charge. However, you can still list your publications and choose not to upload your articles, if you are concerned about putting up work-in-progress or wish to control who sees your research.

One of the advantages is the ability to network. I’ve attended conferences where attendees tell others to look them up on, rather than providing an email. In addition to following individuals, you can also follow various fields and interests, bringing you in contact with new scholars and research. And if you follow someone, you can receive notifications when they add new papers.

This greatly improves the visibility of your research. Journals and other societies often don’t have large budgets for marketing, so this is an easy way to extend your reach. And moreover, you can view detailed statistics on how many people see or download your papers and where in the world they are located. Many find that feature alone well worth creating a profile.

You can view detailed statistics on how many people view or download your papers.

An example of how I use the website is to find a list of publications by a new author I’ve recently discovered. Google Scholar often returns incomplete results when searching for a specific author. You can quickly find yourself in a rabbit hole as you discover research previously unknown to you. And lastly, in addition to finding research, there is a jobs board listing open positions, as well as advertisements for upcoming conferences and calls for papers.

Although I don’t use as often as I wish, it is a great platform for scholars. It provides networking opportunities, visibility for your research, and a way for finding and staying up-to-date in your field. It is a perfect way of keeping your professional life separate from your personal profiles.


Drew Thomas is a PhD student at the University of St Andrews. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Philosophy from Saint Louis University and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University. His PhD is a study of the rise of the Wittenberg print industry during Martin Luther’s Reformation. He is currently the Communications Coordinator for the Universal Short Title Catalogue and the Digital Developer for the Caroline Minuscule Mapping Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @DrewBThomas.