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ResearchHub: The GitHub of Scientific Research

· 5 min read
Bekah Hawrot Weigel
Developer Experience Lead

Today is day 10 of my 29 Days of Open Source Alternatives series, where I'll be exploring open source alternatives to proprietary software in the categories of Game Development and Multimedia, Development Tools and Platforms, Productivity and Collaboration Tools, and more. If you'd like to see the list of the open source alternatives I'll be covering this month, head over to my 29 Days of Open Source Alts Page or check out my bonus lists: open source games and open source learn to code programs.

Before coming into tech, I spent ten years in academia. I always found it frustrating that so much research was guarded behind paywalls. Why were we preventing people from valuable research that could allow us to grow in our areas of expertise? Now, I was in the humanities and not the sciences, but once I learned about ResearchHub, I was intrigued.

ResearchHub's mission is to accelerate the pace of scientific research. Our goal is to make a modern mobile and web application where people can collaborate on scientific research in a more efficient way, similar to what GitHub has done for software engineering.

Researchers should be able to publish articles (preprint or postprint) and discuss the findings in a completely open and accessible forum dedicated solely to the relevant article.

Imagine a world where the latest scientific breakthroughs aren't hidden behind paywalls. They're shared freely and collaboration between academics and non-academics is encouraged. That means that all of us have to potential to contribute to research that shapes the world. ResearchHub is building a platform where the power of open access transforms academia.

The Challenge of Academic Access

Traditionally, accessing academic research has been like trying to enter a locked room without a key. Research is often behind high-cost paywalls or requires academic credentials to access barriers, making it difficult for researchers, students, and non-academics to access.

ResearchHub Features

ResearchHub empowers not only the academic community by providing an open platform for sharing research instantly, but also anyone interested in research, growth, and understanding.

  • Open Access: Free and immediate access to research articles.
  • Real-time Collaboration: A platform for researchers worldwide to collaborate, discuss, and refine ideas.
  • Community Engagement: An open source community driving the platform forward, ensuring that knowledge is shared and accessible to all.
  • Efficient: Research should be completed more quickly by removing red tape to get started and encouraging collaboration and peer reviews.

Another way this differs from traditional academic research is because it's incentivized by ResearchCoin.

ResearchHub platform


This project is kind of a special case. We're looking at both the web and backend repos, which are the ones that are pinned in their org, but you can see the engagement on the site as well - which likens its platform the GitHub of scientific research.

We don't see many contributors over the last thirty days, but we do see positive numbers for PR Velocity and activity.

researchhub dashboard

The engagement of users tells a different story:

research hub community numbers

Getting involved is straightforward. Whether you're a researcher eager to share your findings, a developer looking to contribute to the platform's growth, or someone who believes in open access to knowledge, ResearchHub has opportunities for many different types of contribution.

Open Source Stats (web/backend)

  • Stars: 43/21
  • Watching: 8/10
  • Forks: 27/20
  • License: User contributions to ResearchHub are shared under the Creative Commons Attribution License

A New Era of Research Collaboration

Comparing ResearchHub with traditional proprietary academic databases reveals a stark contrast in philosophy and functionality:

FeatureResearchHubElsevier's ScienceDirectClarivate's Web of Science
AccessOpen, free for allRestricted, subscription-basedRestricted, subscription-based
Collaboration FeaturesReal-time collaboration, open discussions (limited by platform features)Limited collaboration within platform, integration with external tools possibleLimited collaboration within platform, integration with external tools possible
Speed of DisseminationImmediate upon submissionWeeks to months for peer reviewWeeks to months for peer review
Community EngagementOpen-source community, global collaborationLimited to subscribers, less direct interactionLimited to subscribers, less direct interaction
Content CoveragePrimarily preprints and unpublished workExtensive coverage of peer-reviewed journals and booksExtensive coverage of peer-reviewed journals and books
Search FeaturesBasic search optionsAdvanced search tools and filtersAdvanced search tools and filters
Data & MetricsLimited data and basic metricsExtensive citation data and advanced metricsExtensive citation data and advanced metrics
Long-Term SustainabilityRelatively new platform, long-term sustainability unprovenEstablished platform with proven track recordEstablished platform with proven track record


What ResearchHub is doing is really interesting, and I'm surprised I haven't heard about it before. In terms of the GitHub open source collaborations, it would be great to see more contributions and issues being addressed. But it does look like they make up for it in the open source research aspect of their project. This is definitely something I'll be watching and diving in deeper to learn more about things like their open source hub.