Looking ahead, with ResearchGate CEO and co-founder Ijad Madisch

In celebration of our 10th anniversary, we look to the future.

Credit: Gene Glover/ResearchGate

Physician Ijad Madisch founded ResearchGate together with his two friends, fellow physician S?ren Hofmayer and computer scientist Horst Fickenscher, in May 2008.

Since then, you and 15 million other scientists from around the world have joined the network. You connect, collaborate, and share and discover research – and make research more open and accessible. We’d like to say thank you for these important contributions to science.

With your input, we’ve constantly evolved over the past decade. In this interview, we speak with Ijad about what’s next. We can’t wait to see what you make of ResearchGate in the future.

ResearchGate: Congratulations on 10 years! What’s coming next? ?

Ijad Madisch: Thank you. The crazy thing is that our plans won’t change much. We started out to connect science and make it open. Ten years later, that’s still our mission.

Our 15 million scientist members have made 220 million connections in total. We estimate that half of all life scientists worldwide now use ResearchGate. I’d like to thank every one of them.

But there are areas where we can still grow. China, India, and Indonesia are already among our top ten countries, both by members and by growth. I see great potential in connecting scientists to our global network from these and other countries, including places where English may not be the primary language in research. We’re missing out if scientists don’t get easy access to this non-English research.


"We started out to connect science and make it open. Ten years later, that’s still our mission."


RG: How do you hope scientists will use ResearchGate to advance their research going forward?

Madisch: It’s also important to us to make research open and accessible. We support Open Science, which is to research what Open Source is to software. We have a vision of scientists not only sharing the results of their research, but the entire process. This vision is already part reality: in ten years, scientists have shared over 110 million research items on the network. This includes raw data, methods and code, and all kind of other work that’s part of the process and traditionally not shared.

Many scientists are also opening up about the process in Projects, a feature for collaboration. Joseph Miano from the University of Rochester is one of them. He tried the gene-editing technique NgAgo as an alternative to CRISPR-Cas9 and documented his experiments and findings in real-time. It turned out, NgAgo was a bust. Thanks to Milano, his peers knew it didn’t work, and they learned about it one year before the study that had first reported the technique was retracted.

Many scientists are following Miano’s example, and are sharing four times more new, unpublished research on ResearchGate than journal articles. For the immediate future, we’ll focus on preprints and Projects to provide even more opportunities to make this ongoing research accessible.

RG: If you could change science anyway you want to, what would you change?

Madisch: I’d delete the word “failure” from the dictionary. Every result is a result, and there are no failed experiments. Results either confirm your hypothesis or they don’t, and either is valuable to know. Sharing all results helps keep you from inventing the wheel over and again, and it helps you discern what works from what doesn’t.


"Every result is a result, and there are no failed experiments."


RG: How does ResearchGate help scientists share all results, including “negative” ones?

Madisch: Scientists can share these results as negative results directly on their profile. But they do so even more often by asking questions in our Q&A section – on average 500 times per day. They tell peers about research they can’t get to work and ask them for help. Scientists give over 2,000 answers to these questions daily. The great thing is that this information stays on the site, so other scientists can find it later when they run into the same problem. I have a bit of a soft spot for Q&A. It was one of the first features we launched on ResearchGate. It’s what I would have needed back when I was working in research and ran into problems I couldn’t find answers to on my own.

RG: What do you think ResearchGate will be like 10 years from now?

Madisch: Ten years ago, I was still working part time as a doctor and was working on ResearchGate on the side. I’d never would have guessed we’d be 15 million members strong today, and I would have never dreamed about what they’ve accomplished in terms of making science more accessible. That makes it hard for me to imagine what ResearchGate will be like ten years from now. We’ll just keep on connecting and opening up science and see to which new exciting places it takes us.

For regular updates from Ijad, follow him on ResearchGate and Twitter.?