ResearchGate converging with Libre peer review?

Before I Mendeleted, one thing that always pissed me off about Mendeley was that they provided no tools for being notified when a private group member added a reference to a shared library.  Getting an email or text when a valued colleague or collaborator publishes a paper is the main way I stay on top of the literature these days.  Sometimes the notification comes directly from the author (often via a topical email listserv like MarMam).  Other times it is in a personal email from a co-author, or in a Tweet from a colleague (Rob Williams and Erin Ashe of Oceans Initiative are good at this).

Given this aspect of my scientific workflow, I’ve been very pleased that Research Gate has been reliably sending me email announcements when the members I follow add publications to their account.  While some of these notifications aren’t so useful because the publications are dated (due to new members uploading their old work), many notifications have led me to recent publications that I’d not yet read.  Here’s an example from this morning’s email:

Thunderbird view of ResearchGate email announcing new pubs from colleagues I follow

Thunderbird view of ResearchGate email announcing new pubs from colleagues I follow

I clicked on view, cut and pasted the title into Google, and happily found an open source version of the article published by Hindawi.com.  I read it, found some errors, and wished I could ask a couple questions of the lead author.  Hindawi offered no way to comment (or even contact the publisher), so I went back to ResearchGate and noticed the discuss button:

Note the discuss button in the lower left corner...

Note the discuss button in the lower left corner…

I clicked on that and was able to ask a question (not always the best way to start a discussion, but ok).  It took me a while to figure out how to get the title worded right (and under the character limit), how to pose multiple questions, and what tags to add to the discussion topic, but this is how it came through:

ResearchGate discussion topic

I’ll report back if I get any response, but I’m pleased that ResearchGate made posing some questions possible, at least.  This is far from what I’d prefer to be able to do: mark-up the paper directly (or at least my version of it) as I read it in a way that the author could easily understand and respond to (in the form of corrections or improvements to the paper).

Of course, this is what projects like Libre aspire to do…  Which leads me to my next task this morning: exploring what appears to be the launch of Libre!  At last their home page has changed; in fact, it’s re-branded as Liberating Research.  Now that’s a movement I can join!

Unfortunately, it looks like the new site is just a framework for what’s to come.  Although the navigational header looks promising —

Libre navigation

— those links to (tools for?) Authors, Articles, Bibliographies, and Disciplines all lead to the same old “Sign up” page for those wanting to hear when the site actually launches.  Here’s looking forward to the wedding of scientific social networks like ResearchGate with improvements in peer review like those offered (very soon!?) by Libre.