In a globalised world with increasing competition for professional careers, e.g. an academic career, or even for getting or/and maintaining or/and improving professionslism in private or public sectors it is IMPERATIVE to be “visible”. It is a simple fact in nature that we can not see and evaluate any object unless it is, in away or another, becomes visible. In addition of being essential is also problematic how and where you need to be visible. Equivalently, it is important how your visibility is going to be judged and by whom.
The common tool and instrument for visibility in any academic career (http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2012/06/14/the-perfect-academic-career-pathway/) is “Publishing” regardless which state/stage in the academic career you are. At any stage several key questions arise along any academic career, e.g. why, how, when and where you get your material published.
For early stage researchers putting a plan for your research strategy (why and how) is critical to get a good start (http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2015/01/13/new-years-research-resolution-plan-your-research-strategy/).
Even if you leave the research for some short periods, which might be very healthy, one can always get back to research after professional breaks (http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/2014/09/17/opportunities-for-researchers-after-a-career-break/).
The are considerable needs for researchers to keep contact with the outside world, i.e. apart from the small groups there are integrated in. Such contacts indeed bring in additional dimensions not only to the research itself but also to the researchers. They can also be arranged and organized in many ways and new global alternatives keep emerging, and become more and more available thanks to diverse possibilities of the social media.
As academic staff, with great pressure to publish in academic journals, it is being recognized that academic generalist networks are becoming increasingly essential, e.g. ResearchGate, Academia.edu or Mendeley, which help to disseminate on the web published articles and to try to obtain more citations and name among the scientific community in the existing fields of expertise. They may also help quick and easy accessibility and affordability especially for early stage academics. Also, for setting up research collaboration and international research projects, share ideas and find solutions. What concerns social media Facebook don’t clearly do it because it’s very focused on leisure and personal life but, what about Linkedin? With millions of professors and professionals connected interested in science/research? No and no again, sciences and technologies need specific ones that differentiate researchers, with specific functionalities on usability and sociability (mainly source credibility).
Here are some information for user or scientist concerning main features and how to make out of their time spent in ResearchGate, Academia.edu or Mendeley, also what you can expect from each. An important aspects in social media in general is if not constantly updated (profile and papers), the effort will be useless (http://howtopublishinjournals.com/2014/05/18/academic-networks-contest-researchgate-vs-academia-vs-mendeley/).