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Publishers propose agreement with ResearchGate to limit unauthorized paper sharing

Publishing trade group, which includes the American Chemical Society, offers networking site a solution to copyright infringement

by Jyllian Kemsley
September 18, 2017

A publishing trade group has suggested an arrangement with ResearchGate, a scientific networking site, that would restrict unlicensed sharing of copyrighted scientific journal articles.

Founded in 2008, ResearchGate enables scientists to share and discuss papers and to connect with collaborators. It now has more than 13 million members and 100 million publications, according to its website. Its funding comes from venture capital investment; investors include Bill Gates, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, and Wellcome Trust.

The Sept. 16 proposal by the International Association of Scientific Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) would allow ResearchGate users to continue uploading documents as they do now. After material is uploaded, “an automated system, utilizing existing technologies and ready to be implemented by STM members, would indicate if the version of the article could be shared publicly or privately,” the proposal says. If the article could be shared only privately, then access would be restricted to coauthors and “other private research groups.” STM estimates that the system could be implemented within 30 to 60 days. One analysis of 500 papers on ResearchGate found that roughly half of 392 non-open-access papers did not comply with publishers’ sharing policies (Scientometrics 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s11192-017-2291-4).

“The proposed approach would enable ResearchGate to operate its scholarly collaboration network service in compliance with copyright laws, and in a manner consistent with whatever access and usage rights have been agreed upon between authors and the scientific journals in which they have published,” says the American Chemical Society, which is a member of STM and publishes C&EN.

ResearchGate has until Sept. 22 to agree to the proposal. After that date, STM members may follow up with ResearchGate, individually or in groups, as they see fit, STM says.



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Frances M. Andreasen, DDS, dr.odont. (September 20, 2017 12:55 AM)
I have recently found that chapters from a textbook which I've co-authored has been uploaded to ResearchGate without permission from me or my Publisher. This has also been done for at least one of my Scientific papers. I am now in a dialogue with my Publishers about removing these sources from RG. There should be stricter restrictions layed upon RG to prevent this from happening. Whatever the Word used, this is piracy and a direct attack on the integrity of copyright. In the end, it could be the death of book sales, which is the only income authors might have for sharing their hard-earned research results. This MUST be stopped!
lana (September 21, 2017 11:47 AM)
The methodology of the paper purporting half of the papers are infringements is faulty and can only be an OVER-estimate.
Just because a journal article in its final published format for a non-OA journal is present on RG does NOT mean it is an infringement. Many authors do NOT transfer copyright, even for final versions, to the Journal.
Most notably every government employed researcher.
Lets not get hyperbolic shall we. This is clearly about one economic powerhouse, publishers (in the form of their trade group, STM) leaning on an emerging economic player who is monetizing the same stuff in a new way (RG) to protect their business (selling access to published works). While the older players (publishers) clearly add value and are more adept at whipping up their content creators, the new player has a decent hand to play with those same creators (reputation/access/visibility). If the publishers were smart they would band together and buy RG.

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