Please Google, destroy ResearchGate

ResearchGate has been gaining infamy with scientists all over the world. It’s almost everyday that you get an email from ResearchGate asking you to join. This spam is annoying but is easily fixed by blocking ResearchGate in your email. Unfortunately, ResearchGate is doing the worst thing possible to scientists across the world: breaking search and making it hard to access information. 

An example of this is found in this page. It came up as the number four result while searching on Google for mathematical modelling terms. It has the abstract to a paper, the DOI for the paper, but no link to the paper itself. There’s a button which says “Request full text”, but pressing this does not take you to the site hosting the paper, but to a registration page instead.

ResearchGate isn’t just a slightly annoying social layer to engaging with scientific content; it actively breaks the systems that researchers, government bodies (such as the NIH) and journals built to make accessing scientific content easy on the internet (such as the DOI system) by replacing high ranking search results with their rubbish. Meanwhile it uses those very same systems to scrape for data to build their business.

ResearchGate is actively destroying the functionality of search and hence productivity of scientists across the world. Google should stop serving ResearchGate results for general searches of scientific terms.