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.