, Volume 112, Issue 1, pp 443–460 | Cite as

Do ResearchGate Scores create ghost academic reputations?

  • Enrique Orduna-Malea
  • Alberto Martín-Martín
  • Mike Thelwall
  • Emilio Delgado López-CózarEmail author


The academic social network site ResearchGate (RG) has its own indicator, RG Score, for its members. The high profile nature of the site means that the RG Score may be used for recruitment, promotion and other tasks for which researchers are evaluated. In response, this study investigates whether it is reasonable to employ the RG Score as evidence of scholarly reputation. For this, three different author samples were investigated. An outlier sample includes 104 authors with high values. A Nobel sample comprises 73 Nobel winners from Medicine and Physiology, Chemistry, Physics and Economics (from 1975 to 2015). A longitudinal sample includes weekly data on 4 authors with different RG Scores. The results suggest that high RG Scores are built primarily from activity related to asking and answering questions in the site. In particular, it seems impossible to get a high RG Score solely through publications. Within RG it is possible to distinguish between (passive) academics that interact little in the site and active platform users, who can get high RG Scores through engaging with others inside the site (questions, answers, social networks with influential researchers). Thus, RG Scores should not be mistaken for academic reputation indicators.


Academic social networks ResearchGate Altmetrics Research evaluation Bibliometrics 



Alberto Martín-Martín enjoys a four-year doctoral fellowship (FPU2013/05,863) granted by the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura, y Deporte (Spain). Enrique Orduna-Malea holds a postdoctoral fellowship (PAID-10-14), from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain).

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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enrique Orduna-Malea
    • 1
  • Alberto Martín-Martín
    • 2
  • Mike Thelwall
    • 3
  • Emilio Delgado López-Cózar
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.EC3 Research GroupUniversitat Politècnica de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.EC3 Research GroupUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  3. 3.Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group, School of Mathematics and Computer ScienceUniversity of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK

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