ResearchGate is a popular social media platform for scholars to share their work and communicate with others. Recently, major scientific publishers have requested that ResearchGate remove any articles in which publishers hold copyright. Publishers had been in discussion with ResearchGate about sending take-down notices to ResearchGate—to the tune of hundreds of thousands of notices. Read more about what has transpired here.
What does that mean for those with ResearchGate accounts or for article sharing in general?
Most articles published in the scientific literature are under the ownership of the publisher, not the author. If author copyrights are negotiated or if the article is open access, then the author retains copyright. When work is owned by an entity other than the author, only that entity holds the right to post the final version of the article. That means that the full text of the final published version, called the “version of record,” may not be posted to a personal or professional website, repository, or social network like ResearchGate. There may be a few exceptions, but the majority of copyright transfer agreements signed by the author do restrict posting the final published version.
With these restrictions in mind, how can you share your work with others?
Your ability to share your work depends on the copyright transfer agreement you signed with the publisher. Most major publishers permit you to share the final published version of your work with colleagues, with students in classes that you teach, with conference attendees, and for other limited audiences. However, you may not be able to share that final published version online.
For online dissemination of your work, most publishers permit authors to post what is called the “author’s final” or “pre-print” version of an article—the version that exists before copyediting, before the masthead, and before final publication markup. This is the version that has been submitted and accepted for publication. This “pre-print” submitted version, as well as the publisher’s peer reviewed or “post-print” version, can often be shared via websites, repositories, or social networks, but only after a specified embargo period. To see which version of your article is allowed, you can search SHERPA/RoMEO, a resource that compiles article sharing permissions.
At UNMC, you can make your pre-print and post-print scholarly works available to colleagues around the world by submitting them to DigitalCommons@UNMC. DigitalCommons is a repository of scholarly work at UNMC, hosted by the McGoogan Library of Medicine. Simply email your work to firstname.lastname@example.org and library staff will upload your files, add descriptive information required by the publisher, then release works (following any specified embargo period). DigitalCommons offers extensive usage information, such as downloads, referrals, and geographic distribution.
For more information regarding article sharing and DigitalCommons@UNMC, contact Heather Brown at email@example.com or 402-559-7097.