I'm writing my PhD-thesis in economics at a fairly small university. Accordingly, there are relatively few scientists in my department. I am planning to write a research paper on a specific topic that nobody else at my university is researching. However, I think that it makes sense to write this paper with several people so that the expertise of others can also be included in this study (and many more reasons).

My question now is where I can find other researchers on this topic. Is there a "Facebook" for researchers? And how can I contact them?

I would also be pleased if someone would tell me about their experience on this problem.

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    I've seen people attempt similar ideas on Researchgate, but don't have personal experience on the rate of success. There are a lot of early-to-mid career researchers there though. That said, there is a chance that this will be closed as a 'shopping question'. Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 10:30
  • I don't understand why my question should be a 'shopping question'. This is a question on academic axchange.
    – TobKel
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 10:42
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    @TobKel- That's true, but the way its formulated makes it sound like a website recommendation question, even though that may not be precisely what you want. academia.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3657/… Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 12:40
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    Why does this question even mention Facebook? Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 5:24
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    Do you try to find new friends by adding random people with the same interests as you on Facebook? Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 8:30

10 Answers 10


Facebook is not a collaboration tool. It is a tool for advertising companies and the government to gather information about people; that is the business model and the primary intent. Interaction and collaboration are at best secondary effects.

Now, other social networks controlled by commercial entities and many have business models which involve advertising, but Facebook is among the worst.

At any rate, have a look at:

The first two are sites intended for researchers to showcase their work using a generic UI/UX. Users of both complain about their spamminess; and Academia.edu apparently has most functionality limited by a paywall. I personally have found ResearchGate less spammy than Academia.edu, but some comments below suggest otherwise.

The third one, owned by Microsoft, is more geared towards recruitment/head-hunting, and is about presenting one's professional profile rather than research. But I've found both ResearchGate and LinkedIn to be places where I've discovered people who are potential collaborators or sources of useful material for my research. I have not, however, used these networks to actually engage on collaboration.

But of course, that is also true for scientific conferences and journals, or rather their on-line form of websites and downloadable proceedings.

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    I'm in the private sector, but I've spent some time in the lower levels of academia while I was also working in the private sector, and I was surprised then how few people were using LinkedIn. Simply put, if you either intend to join the private sector in the future or want to collaborate with people there now, LinkedIn is an invaluable tool. It doesn't take much time to find some people and a company or two in your field, put a couple keywords in, and make a couple posts, and you will be able to network and start some really awesome conversations. Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 21:55
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    If academia.edu is more spammy than researchgate.net, then I really don't want to try it. Researchgate is already too spammy for me.
    – Isaac
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 10:59
  • @Isaac: I don't get email from ResearchGate right now that I don't expect to get. I vaguely recall having trouble achieving the same with academia.edu. But I could be mistaken or it could have changed.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 11:58
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    @luchonacho: I did say that, I just said Facebook is worse. But - rephrased somewhat to emphasize this point.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 13:41

My question now is where I can find other researchers on this topic.

The usual approach is to build up your own credentials and reputation first, then go to conferences and give talks and meet people, and only then seek out collaborations.

In my opinion, what you propose is likely to be difficult. At least in my field, it is not common for reputable researchers to seek out collaborators in the way you suggest.

But there is one possible option: read others' research papers, and look for ideas based on what they are interested in. For example, if an author writes that "It would be interesting to do XYZ, but it isn't clear at the moment how to overcome obstacle ABC", and you have ideas on how to overcome ABC, then you might be able to strike up a collaboration based on a cold email with no credentials.

If you've already got a topic you want to work on, then it is okay to write to researchers outside your university and ask them for advice. But if you do this, then keep it brief and specific, and don't ask them to assume any responsibility. For example, "I am writing a thesis on X, and I want to increase my expertise on Y which you are an expert in. Could you please recommend a paper or two on subject Y which is particularly representative of recent work in the field?" Or better still, "I was reading your paper Z, and got hung up on W; could you recommend a good reference to learn about W?"

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    Good answer, except that I would add you do not need credentials or reputation to meet people. You do need to meet people to have a reputation. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 5:23
  • @AnonymousPhysicist Good point, indeed I think it's a good idea for grad students to go to conferences and start talking to people as soon as possible. I wouldn't usually advise them to explicitly seek out collaborations in this way, at least not early in their careers, but sometimes it happens naturally.
    – academic
    Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 9:01
  • "It would be interesting to do XYZ, but it isn't clear at the moment how to overcome obstacle ABC", Can we use NLP to parse scientific literature and find such scenarios?
    – BND
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 8:20

I don't actually think your situation is very different from that of others at large universities. I went to a very large place, one of the biggest in the US at the time. The math department was huge for the time with about 80 professors and twice that many doctoral students. But in the field I was working in there were only three professors in our working group. The fact that there were tons of topologists and algebraists in the department meant little to me. Research is specialized and normally done in small groups.

But, to actually answer your question, a facebook group for economics is probably going to be just what I describe above. Lots of people, but very few that have interests close to yours. What you need is a tailored approach not a broadcast one.

Your advisor or another faculty member in the department probably has already developed a circle of contacts and maybe collaborators. Ask to be introduced into such circles. See if the department can provide some funding either to invite a visitor to your institution for a few days or to send you on a visit to work for a bit with someone interesting.

Contact authors of recent papers that interest you. First just to say you are trying to join that field and value the paper, but also wondering if they would be willing to answer questions you might have in the future. First contact should be fairly light, so as not to overwhelm a potential contact. Or, better, get your advisor to introduce you and to recommend you to them as a future collaborator.

Go to whatever conferences in your field you can and introduce yourself to speakers there. Your goal is to establish contacts, not, specifically, to get help on your own projects. At a conference, take note of who asks questions of the speakers and introduce yourself to them. Ask questions yourself. Take a lot of notes with ideas about research ideas that look like they might be worth pursuing in the future. Associate those notes with the individuals that generated the idea in your mind.

As a faculty member, I had a wide circle of collaborators, but they were distributed worldwide - mostly US and Europe. No other faculty at my fairly small institution had the same interests. When I worked with a doctoral student it was either one on one or with the help of some colleague elsewhere than the university. That circle was developed over time as I've suggested above, but especially through conversations at conferences.


In addition to the existing answers, "science twitter" is a thing in several fields and might be a way to hear about/connect with relevant researchers outside your advisor's network.

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    I prefer science twitter to other platforms. It really depends on how many users there are and twitter has the most active communities in my field (neuroscience and machine learning).
    – Memming
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 13:19

You are in economics. Therefore I will answer from that field.

There is a website called Ideas-RePec that summarises the whole economic field of research, from journals to papers to authors to institutions (it's actually a whole series of tools and websites). You might be familiar with JEL codes, found in any paper in economics. Well, in Ideas-RePec you can search papers and authors by JEL code. So if your field is JEL code D31, search for it and you will find papers and authors. Here is the example for D31. Alternative, you can use this tool they provide to see a list of authors by field. For example, here is central banking.


I can't speak for economics but in other fields yes, definitely. It is called conference.

The large majority of all collaborative projects start with meeting another researcher at a conference, listening to each other's talks and then finding someone with a common interest.

Electronic communication afterwards is great but for an initial start into a collaborative project nothing beats the investment of sitting down for half an hour face to face and figure out if this would be a beneficial collaboration.

  • Yeah, economics has conferences too. But the OP wanted more than that. Commented May 19 at 12:57

This is a second-hand answer. My very close friend is in academia field (food safety) and he uses www.researchgate.net exactly for this purpose. It looks very much as Facebook for researchers. I can ask him for more details if I need to expand this answer.


Most academic publications list an email address, or at least a postal address. Finding relevant publications (e.g. Google Scholar, arxiv, etc depending on field and preference) and then looking at the authors details would be a start.

Often, addresses might be out of date (e.g. moved to different university) but may still forward to an active email. Generally anyone still in academia and a potential collaborator / peer would be findable by most popular search engines. For particularly common names you may need to use other identifiers such as ORCHID or email.

Getting an engaging reply might be a bit of luck however! Show that you know their work and the field, and have the potential to contribute and help them. But also be prepared to be ignored a lot, though don't hold it against them if you meet them in future!


Read the literature. You don't have to know it all (impossible since the 1700s). But you need to be dipping into it, tracing sources back, etc. in such a way that you find out the key references in your field. You don't need someone social media chatting with you if you learn to research the literature.

Do your own stuff. It's good for you and good for the field. Earn your stones.

Nothing wrong with collaborating when you have a strong reason for it. But just "I'm gonna put on a play" is not a good rationale. And really nobody will want to collaborate with you until you have at least some basic beginnings to show you can hold up your end. That you have something precious for them.

Time is precious and nobody is sitting around wanting to Facebook with adrift, beginner researchers in small freshwater colleges. I would think an econ student would grasp this. But I still encounter tenured profs at big schools who make sunk cost fallacies. (The state of micro teaching...sigh...)

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