piirusConnecting researchers. Crossing boundaries.

Piirus helps you to connect with other researchers - it's as simple as that.

Piirus started life in 2011 as Research Match, a service designed for researchers within the University of Warwick to find their research match. Users found the site so useful that the site was expanded so that more people could benefit from this tool.

If you want to make contacts, or find a collaborator, within your field or from a different discipline, then Piirus is a quick and easy tool to help you get in touch.

Led by colleagues in Library Services, The University of Birmingham has agreed to take part in the Piirus pilot phase and we are looking for up to 200 colleagues to participate.

If you would like to find out more or join the sample group, please email Judith Hegenbarth or Sue Gilligan.

Piirus is not intended to be a rival service to Research Gate or Academia.edu  allows individuals to set up a profile using keywords and to make connections, particularly at the edges of disciplines, where they may not have previously looked. The developers have acknowledged that early career researchers in particular often feel isolated and even within their own institutions don’t know about people exploring similar areas or using similar methodologies.

Follow Piirus on Twitter: @piirus_com

Piirus and research collaboration survey

Piirus are currently running an online survey for academic researchers about Piirus and research collaboration in general. It will take no more than 5 minutes to complete and will help the Piirus team to inform future developments of the Piirus service. The survey will run from 12-26 September and all researchers who complete the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 Amazon voucher.

If you are interested in participating in the survey, click here.

Visit the Piirus blog for more information.

Answers to common questions about Piirus

How does it work?

Sign up and create a short profile with your collaboration interests, research areas and methodologies. You can also add links to external sites where other users can find out more about you, such as your LinkedIn, your blog or your Academia.edu entry.

As soon as you have a profile, Piirus will suggest researchers with whom you may be interested in collaborating, based on the information in your profile. You can also search for users with particular interests, expertise or techniques. Find out how search works.

What can Piirus do for me?

It can help you to:

  • make contacts for your research and your career, both within your institution and beyond                
  • find expertise on a specific topic or technique
  • make interdisciplinary connections to refresh your work and widen funding opportunities
  • improve the visibility of your research outside your institution

How is Piirus different from sites like LinkedIn and Academia.edu?

Piirus is a quick and easy tool to help you make contacts and find collaborators. We keep it simple by focusing on connecting researchers. There is less effort to create and maintain a Piirus profile because it works alongside other systems that record full profiles. You can add links to your departmental profile or portfolio, blog, LinkedIn or Academia.edu profiles, without having to enter all the information they contain separately onto your Piirus profile.

Who can sign up to Piirus?

Piirus is open to any researchers from academic institutions and research centres. This includes doctoral researchers, early career researchers and research active staff.

There is a short video about the project here.

How is this different to Academia, Research Gate and my departmental web page?

Each of these platforms has a very important role to play in the research process and in making you visible. Piirus is primarily about making collaborative contacts at the earliest stages of a research idea. Academia.edu is a great platform for making your early release publications visible to the world. Your departmental website demonstrates how you fit into the ecology of research within your own instituion. As a researcher you need to make yourself available on all these websites. On Piirus you make yourself known for what you are wanting to research or collaborate on RIGHT NOW. That's its uniqueness. And on Piirus we make it simple for you to link out to all the other websites that you are currently on.

Can't you just populate this profile with my profile from x place (normally a formal institutional system)?

We like to keep the Piirus profile lean, so we don't ask for anything that is not going to support you matching with other researchers. Instead our mantra is to link out to other places rather than pulling in data. So this is why we collect your researcher author identification codes and links to your web pages of choice where you showcase your research. Don't forget to fill them in when you create your profile.

Can't you include my publications in here?

Piirus is primarily about making collaborative contacts, not historical showcasing of your research. We concentrate on making the best research matches for you and make it possible for you to link to sites that showcase your research where your publications are listed.

Is it free? You'll charge me at some point won't you?

Piirus is free. It will always be free to researchers.

This is good for Humanities and social sciences really, not for me as a scientist?

40 per cent of researchers on Piirus are scientists. What they really like about Piirus is that they can find collaborators on research techniques and scientific equipment which is often one of the hardest things to achieve efficiently and quickly.

This is for doctoral students really, isn't it?

Piirus is for any researcher seeking collaborators whatever stage in their research career. Doctoral researchers will find it useful for developing networks and those further into their career will find Piirus helps them when they are looking for collaborators on the edge of their field and therefore their known networks.

How could this support me as an early career researcher?

ECRs so often find themselves in transition these days, with shorter contracts and more competition as researchers at this stage chase fewer academic jobs. We know this means more mobility for our ECR researcher community and consequently a need to have somewhere that is visible and yet portable. Piirus provides this visibility and portability.

Why would I as a senior academic want to use Piirus?

Senior academics can find themselves looking at new areas of research and needing to find research connections beyond their normal research field. Piirus helps to create those connections. We've had a senior academic in Economics at Warwick needing to make connections with social policy and public policy people in the area of the impact of new media and he found Piirus as the most successful route to achieving this.

Why would I want to send out invitations?

We want to expand Piirus to an academic audience and the best way to achieve that is for other researchers to invite their colleagues across the globe. That way Piirus remains valuable to you as it is focused on researchers and is not filled with the general public, which has become the problem with some other academic sites.

How do I optimise my profile?

We think the best strategy is to create a quick profile, get in and look around, search for people, look at other profiles and then go back and amend and add to your profile based on what you found. We've got advice on the Piirus blog on how to optimise your profile and when you join you'll get an email with 5 steps to making the most of your Piirus profile.

Do I have to put a photograph on there?

No, though many people do like to. You may choose to add a photo that you use on other professional sites in order to maintain your professional online identity.

How does the matching work?

Matches are suggested based on the keywords that you entered as your collaboration interests. Piirus compares these to the collaboration interests of other researchers and suggests researchers with relevant collaboration interests. Matches are shown in order of relevance so researchers with more matching keywords will be ranked more highly than researchers who have used fewer related keywords. If you think that the matching isn't quite working you can change your keywords or search.

Can I add new keywords?

Yes, just type your word and if you don't see a matching keyword, you can create a new one. We'll then link your new keyword to relevant keywords in our database.

Who manages the data? Is it safe?

Your data is held in accordance with the 1998 Data Protection Act and is managed by the Piirus team within the University of Warwick. We take great care of your data and make sure it is not used in any other way than in relation to managing and developing Piirus. Information about researchers on Piirus will never be passed on to third parties for marketing purposes.

If I email someone how does this work? Is it handled through Piirus?

When you decide to contact someone, Piirus sends an email to the recipient and it goes to their academic email address. When the recipient replies, the reply will go directly to your email address. You don't need to log in to Piirus in order to see their reply.

Where did the name Piirus come from?

We wanted to create something new that didn't have any connections or connotations to other services and which would work within an international context. We took a neological approach to this and developed the name and identity we now have in Piirus.

Is my institution formally endorsing Piirus?

Researchers decide to join many different sites to increase their visibility and to promote their research which are not formally endorsed by their home institution. Piirus is the same. It is entirely up to individual researchers to decide to join Piirus, and institutions are not being asked to formally endorse Piirus.

Shouldn't we make it compulsory that all researchers or doctoral students are registered on Piirus?

Piirus is for researchers who are actively seeking collaborators. So we encourage researchers who are in those circumstances to join rather than force people against their will to join.

Why would Warwick do this and invest this money?

Warwick is a University that seeks to do things that help the sector as a whole. When we saw ways to impove recruitment for Warwick, we developed a jobs board and then made it available to the sector. You might have heard of it. it's jobs.ac. It's the same with Piirus. We identified a problem in connecting researchers at the earliest stages of a research idea forming and developed a solution. Now we are making this solution available to the sector.

Is my profile visible to search engines?

Your profile will only ever be visible to other members who have signed into Piirus. Some researchers on the Piirus homepage have volunteered to be the face of Piirus. If you'd like your photo to be on the Piirus homepage, then email us at hello@piirus.com.

How do you keep access restricted to genuine academics?

Piirus is open to any researchers from academic institutions and research centres. This includes doctoral researchers, early career researchers and research active staff. We restrict membership to researchers with academic email addresses so that you don’t have to worry about sifting through members from the general public to find fellow researchers.

Do I have to enter keywords with both UK and US spellings to get accurate matches?

You can enter either and Piirus will search across both spellings.