"Pioneers" was the headline when Science magazine covered the launch of the academic networking platform ResearchGATE exactly one year ago. In a very short time, a small group of pioneers in scientific communication, located at Harvard University and Hannover Medical School (Germany), has managed to create a worldwide community with more than 50,000 members from 196 countries.

In just twelve months, ResearchGATE has achieved its goal (called "ambitious" by Science magazine) of establishing itself as the world's leading social network for researchers focused on life sciences. Moreover, ResearchGATE offers far more than the usual networking features: Many different tools and applications greatly simplify scientific collaboration and research.

Within the platform, 1,100 issue-specific groups have been founded. Several research organizations and academic institutions cooperate with ResearchGATE, thereby contributing to the growing depth and reach of the platform. A new concept for sub-communities allows such organizations to create their own, closed "network within the network", ensuring confidentiality while giving members the opportunity for exchange with the global research community. Currently, this concept is carried out with the prestigious German Society for Virology (counting noble prize winner Harald zur Hausen into its ranks). Now, it will be made available to the entire scientific world.

By launching its semantic search engine for scientific literature and its automated matching processes, ResearchGATE has distanced typical Web 2.0 applications in terms of usability and member benefits. These tools enable researchers to find groups, papers, fellow researchers and everything else within and outside of ResearchGATE without having to read through dozens of irrelevant search results. The Similar Abstract Search Engine (SASE) allows users to upload entire abstracts and find thematically related papers within the platform and in external databases containing 30 million articles.

Moreover, individual users as well as groups of potential interest to the researcher are automatically suggested. File sharing, scheduling and voting tools add to the functionality of the platform.

Over the past twelve months, ResearchGATE's IT team has written more than 800,000 lines of code and installed 232 versions of ResearchGATE on its productive system. The feedback of members, the worldwide publicity and the constant requests from academic institutions seem to show that ResearchGATE is on the right path. Its value for members will continue to increase: Several cutting-edge tools and applications are scheduled to be released soon. Additional institutional cooperations will further enhance the quality of the network.

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