The best websites for researchers and academics
Dr. Joe Bathelt
The web is a treasure trove of resources that can make the life of researchers and academics much easier. Here, I discuss my favourites.
Google Scholar is a great resource for quick literature searches. It is much more intuitive than “proper” research databases like PubMed or PsychINFO, because it uses the same logical operators as regular Google. So, you can combine several keywords with AND and add wildcards like attent* to search for anything starting with “attent” like attention and attentive. You can also create your own profile to make your work more easily discoverable. That’s easily done in a few clicks. Subsequently, Google Scholar will recommend articles that are similar to your own published articles. This can be quite useful to stay on top of the literature.
ResearchGate is similar to a social media platform but it’s solely dedicated to research. You can create a profile for yourself, add your papers, and follow the updates of other researchers. It also has forums to ask for answers from other researchers. Seeing the updates from other researchers can be very useful to see what other people are working on. In contrast to discovering papers via search engines, the papers on ResearchGate can be added to projects. So, you can easily se how the most recent preprint from a lab relates to their previous papers. I also like that ResearchGate produces reports about who viewed or cited my papers so I can connect to people with similar interests. Fortunately, curating the profile does not take a lot of work. In most cases, ResearchGate will suggest adding papers automatically once they are published.
Connected Papers is a discovery tool that is extremely useful when exploring a new area. For example, you might have come across an inspiring article and want to learn more about the context of this research. Connected Papers will present you with a graph of the most closely related papers. You can also view the graph in a timeline to see which recent articles relate to this work. I find this extremely useful when I have to present a seminar on a topic that I have not followed for a while. It’s also great when writing papers. I usually look up if there are any more recent articles that I might have missed via Connected Papers.
Research Rabbit is a relatively new tool designed to help researchers with staying on top of the literature. You can add papers to reading lists. The papers are then digested by Research Rabbit’s algorithm that then recommends similar articles. The articles are displayed in interactive views that make it easy to explore links and add interesting articles to the reading list. The best feature for me is that Research Rabbit sends weekly emails with new papers that may be of interest based on the existing library. The recommendations are usually spot on and helped me to discover articles that I would have otherwise missed.
Prolific is an online platform for participant recruitment. Prolific makes it easy to advertise studies to a huge sample of participants who have been pre-screened on various dimensions. For instance, I recently needed a representative sample of 1,000 people from the UK for a short questionnaire study. I could recruit the entire sample, representative of the UK population based on gender, ethnicity, and age according to census data, within 2 days. Prolific integrates with many commonly used online research platforms like Gorilla and Qualtrics. Of course, it’s also possible to host studies on university servers and direct Prolific participants to them via a link.
For people new to online research, Prolific hosts a large community of researchers from around the world that also includes dedicated community ambassadors. Whenever I had questions about any aspect of web-based research, I got excellent answers from the community within hours.