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Comparison of research networking tools and research profiling systems

Research networking (RN) is about using tools to identify, locate and use research and scholarly information about people and resources. Research networking tools (RN tools) serve as knowledge management systems for the research enterprise. RN tools connect institution-level/enterprise systems, national research networks, publicly available research data (e.g., grants and publications), and restricted/proprietary data by harvesting information from disparate sources into compiled profiles for faculty, investigators, scholars, clinicians, community partners and facilities. RN tools facilitate collaboration and team science to address research challenges through the rapid discovery and recommendation of researchers, expertise and resources.RN tools differ from search engines such as in that they access information in databases and other data not limited to web pages. They also differ from social networking systems in that they represent a compendium of data ingested from authoritative and verifiable sources rather than predominantly individually-posted information, making RN tools more reliable. Yet, RN tools have sufficient flexibility to allow for profile editing. RN tools provide resources to bolster human connections: they can make non-intuitive matches, do not depend on serendipity and do not have a propensity to return only to previously identified collaborations/collaborators. RN tools generally have associated analytical capabilities that enable evaluation of collaboration and cross-disciplinary research/scholarly activity, especially over time. RN tools and research profiling systems can help researchers gain recognition. Active promotion of scholarship is an aspect of the publication cycle. Commercial and non-profit services help researchers increase visibility and recognition. Digital researcher services enhance discoverability, shareability and citability of scholarship. According to Shanks and Arlitsch, digital researcher services fall into three categories: Author/Researcher Identification—these services provide infrastructure that may be used in the other two categories, such as unique identifiers and name disambiguation. Academic and Professional Networking—most succinctly described as “social networking for academics,” these services focus on connecting users based on research interest, affiliation, geography or other variables. Reference and Citation Management—these tools and services include some of the functionality and features of other categories, although their primary focus is on management of citations that a researcher compiles for use within a publication or for sharing with other researchers.Importantly, data harvested into RN tools can be repurposed, especially if available as Linked Open Data (RDF triples). These RN tools enhance research support activities by providing data for customized, web pages, CV/biosketch generation and data tables for grant proposals.

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