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ResearchGATE launches a self-archiving repository

Picture 1Despite 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

Picture 2ResearchGATE 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.

4 thoughts on “ResearchGATE launches a self-archiving repository

    • Thanks for sharing that, William. A great selection of viewpoints, and yes, the broad utility of PMC may trump other possible solutions. However, there are many converging paths to universal OA, and many individual needs that different solutions may serve.

      For example, I was reminded by John Ben de Vette that ‘Most universities have had a difficult time getting authors to submit copies of their articles and data sets to their local institutional repository (IR). ResearchGATE has the the potential to plug into an IR and become part of an IR solution,’ which indeed it does. It could be a strong card for them to play; you’ll remember that Elsevier was said to have been undertaking a similar campaign earlier this year offering IR services.

  1. Andrew – I concur with your assessment that this may be one of those small things that turns out to be a tipping point for the self-archiving movement… assuming that the feature (matching research uploads to the SHERPA RoMEO data set of journal self-archiving policies) is replicated by other researcher networks: SciLink, Mendeley, and Nature Networks in particular. I’m not sure that ResearcherGATE has the critical mass on its own.

    As I am not an attorney, I will not hazard an opinion on ResearchGATE’s claim that each researcher’s profile is that researcher’s personal Web site. I will, however, speculate that if self-archiving does reach a critical mass and a significant percentage of journal content beings to appear in researcher networks, many publishers will likely consult their legal council and review their self archiving policies. Of course by that point it may be too late–once that particular genie is out of the bottle I don’t think it will easily return.

    • Thank you for your comment, Michael. ResearchGATE’s self-archiving functionality adds another implement to the increasingly well-equipped OA toolkit. It’s up to the scientific community to decide how they want to use the resources they have to hand in order to fashion the publication outcomes they desire.

      As for publishers’ policies: there is a degree of inevitability about this process when looked at over the long term. However, as we all like to look for signs and portents in the dust of the present, there is one thing we can state with certainty: when scholarly publishers decide they must adopt more restrictive self-archiving policies, the endgame will have already been in play for some time. The only reasons publishers have ever given away free lunches is because they’ve felt that there is more food on the table than is decent. When the board begins to look bare, they’re going to fight for the scraps.

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