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Academic social networking sites: Comparative analysis of ResearchGate,, Mendeley and Zotero

Raj Kumar Bhardwaj (Library, St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, Delhi, India)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to compare four popular academic social networking sites (ASNSs), namely, ResearchGate,, Mendeley and Zotero.


Evaluation method has been used with the help of checklist covering various features of ASNSs. A structured checklist has been prepared to compare four popular ASNSs, comprising 198 dichotomous questions divided into 12 broad categories.


The study found that performance of ASNSs using the latest features and services is not up to the mark, and none of the site is rated as “Excellent”. The sites lack in incorporation of session filters; output features; privacy settings and text display; and search and browsing fields. Availability of bibilographic features and general features is poor in these sites. Further, altmetrics and analytics features are not incorporated properly. User interface of the sites need to improve to draw researchers to use them. The study report reveals that ResearchGate scored the highest, 61.1 per cent points, and was ranked “above average”, followed by with 48.0 per cent and Mendeley with 43.9 per cent are ranked “average”. However, the Zotero (38.9 per cent) was ranked “below average”.

Practical implications

Accreditation agencies can identify suitable sites in the evaluation of institutions’ research output. Further, students and faculty members can choose the site suiting their needs. Library and information science professionals can use the checklist to impart training to the academic community which can help fostering research and development activities.


The study identifies features that ought to be available in a model ASNS. These features are categorized into 12 broad categories. The findings can also be used by developers of the sites to enhance functionalities. Institutions can choose suitable sites while collaborating with other institutions.



Bhardwaj, R.K. (2017), "Academic social networking sites: Comparative analysis of ResearchGate,, Mendeley and Zotero", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 118 No. 5/6, pp. 298-316.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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