Despite the somewhat self-congratulatory tone of the tweet that announced it (come on, folks, at this moment in time it’s ‘A’ rather than ‘THE’ “green route” to Open Access’, right :)), I appreciated Ben Toth bringing a post from the ResearchGATE blog to my attention this morning.
First things first: I like what ResearchGATE is doing. I like the quiet way they’ve gone about building an open science community. I like the collaborative opportunities that they place in the hands of scientists that supports the practice of open science. And now, on the same day that a familiar voice asks research communities to commit to green OA before committing to pay for gold OA, I like the way that they are set to become a major force in the green Open Access movement
ResearchGATE now not only allows scientists to connect, discover, and collaborate: it also allows them an elegant way to offer full-text access to their work, for free, by
enabling users to upload their published research directly to their profile pages[…]. Our publication index, containing metadata for 35 million publications, will be automatically matched with the SHERPA RoMEO data set of journal and publisher’s self-archiving agreements. As a result, authors will know which versions of their articles they can legally upload.
On the basis that ‘nine out of ten journals allow self-archiving,’ ResearchGATE’s claim that ‘this project could give thousands of researchers immediate access to articles that are not yet freely available’ is not unreasonable.
They have also been careful to place copyright issues front and centre. They claim (and I see no reason to contradict them) that their self-archiving repository does not infringe on copyrights as a consequence of the fact that ‘each [uploading user’s] profile page within ResearchGATE is legally considered the personal website of the user (and the majority of journal publishers allow articles to be openly accessible on personal homepages). Therefore, each user can upload his or her published articles in compliance with self-archiving regulations’.
The thing about tipping points is that you tend not to notice they’ve happened until your flat on your back, looking at the sky.
With their self-archiving repository, ResearchGATE is helping scientists to look up.