Magazine article Information Today

A Formula for Scientific Social Networking

Magazine article Information Today

A Formula for Scientific Social Networking

Article excerpt

The options for social networking in the scientific community are more plentiful these days than test tubes in a chem lab.

"When Web 2.0 technologies started taking off and Facebook revolutionized the way people communicate, we were trying to figure out what benefits a scientific information publisher could gain and provide to the community using these tools," says Brian Bishop, vice president of platform development and director of eproduct development and innovation at Springer. By 2009, Springer had rolled out the first of its social networks called The NeuroNetwork (the study of the brain), which was completely user-generated and so successful that three other networks followed: Neoplasia Network (cancer research), ClimateSciNet (climate science), and JMS Network (the official professional network of the Journal of Materials Science), the latter of which is open to society members only.

Bishop says Springer has three caveats to the social networking process: "We try to keep the focus on topic, we try to moderate and make sure that the discussion is at the scientific level it should be for a Springer product, and we make sure more than just Springer's publications are available." Otherwise, it's hands-off. "No matter what we do, the users have their own ideas of how they want to be self-organized ... they determine and define exactly what the network is for, and different disciplines do different things," he says. But he also sees the editorial value in the specific topics of discussion. "It helps us figure out where our information gaps are," he says. "After we notice interest in a specific subject area, we may consider that a journal or book on the topic would be helpful for us to produce. Being embedded in the community is a quick and easy way of doing market research."

Looking back at the concept phase, Bishop says the Springer product development team was inspired by the innovations that Nature Publishing Group (NPG) had been delivering to the scientific community. "I think Nature Network was one of the first movers in the industry trying to customize social networks for scientist professionals," he says. "In the beginning, we looked at it and thought, 'This is an interesting strategy.'"


NPG launched Nature Network in 2007 as an experiment in social networking for scientists, according to Jo Stichbury, head of online communities at The first custom-built site, which was upgraded several times during the first 3 years, included blogs, forums, groups, and even a people tracker. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.