“To date, ResearchGate appears to be winning the battle to build a sector-wide identity instance for researchers, regardless of university or publisher, with Academia.edu as its primary competition. Though many have predicted the demise of these academic social networks, their continued growth cannot be dismissed.
ResearchGate reports having 15 million members worldwide. Some portion of these “members” are presumably inactive, or active only in limited ways. Even so, there is reason to believe that ResearchGate represents a substantial share of the global scientific community. While it is difficult to know exactly what its members are doing on the platform — anything from reading articles to engaging with collaborators to searching for jobs — the amount of traffic they generate is enormous. According to data from SimilarWeb, in a recent three month period, ResearchGate’s traffic was nearly equal to that of ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, and Nature.com combined. Or, to provide another comparative, ResearchGate’s usage was almost equivalent to that of a basket of major Elsevier properties, including ScienceDirect and all its other major STM properties, including Mendeley, bepress, SSRN, and Pure.
There is power to this scale. ResearchGate has been able to associate much of the scientific literature with its authors, enabling a variety of analytics that it is able to turn into services and in some cases to monetize. Even though ResearchGate is one of the largest sources of leakage and is therefore being sued by an array of the major publishing houses, the power of ResearchGate’s data has been sufficient to enable it to develop a partnership with Springer Nature, at least on a pilot basis, in which Springer Nature content is freely distributed on ResearchGate. …”