Similar to popular social media, commercial scholarly social networking tools, such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate, and Mendeley, claim to expand the reach of researchers’ scholarship through connections made among research communities, across research domains, and to the public. On these sites, researchers can easily develop profile pages with lists of publications, background statements, and descriptions of research interests; they can follow other researchers and receive updates on new publications; in addition, profile views and article citation/downloads are measured and visualized to show the researcher’s increasing scholarly impact over time.
Although scholarly networking tools appeal to the scholarly culture of sharing and collaboration, researchers need to be very cautious especially when they upload full text articles onto these for-profit sites. Recently, several publishers issued takedown notices requesting ResearchGate to remove millions of infringing articles from its site. These notices have targeted the company, not the researchers who have accounts on the site. It is important for researchers to know that these commercial platforms are not open access repositories and their copyright agreements with publishers determine how and where articles can be shared.
Your copyright agreement with your publisher
Researchers need to check the copyright agreements that they signed with their publishers and make sure they can legally post their articles on commercial sites, like Academia.edu, Mendeley, and ResearchGate. Researchers can go to the SHERPA RoMEO site, search for the journal titles, and find out summaries of self-archiving permissions that the publishers normally give to authors. It is possible for researchers to negotiate a non-exclusive copyright transfer agreement with the publishers using, for example, the BTAA Author’s Copyright Contract Addendum. See this page for more information on copyright in academic research and publication.
NOTE: The Rutgers University Libraries do not endorse uploading your articles to commercial platforms.
While Rutgers University has an Open Access Policy promoting open and free access to scholarship created by faculty, graduate and post-doctoral students and federal agencies are implementing public access requirements for funded research results, researchers need to be aware that uploading articles to social networking sites does not meet the requirements of open access policies from universities or funding agencies. Please look at this article from the University of California’s Office of Scholarly Communication for a detailed analysis of the two systems.
Research networking tools run on business models. Researchers' personal information and their usage data are collected and may even be shared with third parties by these tools. The proprietary nature of the metadata used by these commercial sites means it cannot be harvested by others for broader access. In contrast, open access repositories use standard protocols to guarantee the interoperability and reusability of the metadata they create for researchers' deposits. Finally, Academia.edu and ResearchGate send researchers product recommendations and job advertising; open access repositories do not.
Long term preservation and access are high priorities for open access repositories. For example, SOAR (Scholarly Open Access at Rutgers) is based on a sophisticated information architecture using standardized metadata descriptors, and each article deposited in SOAR will receive its own DOI (Digital Object Identifier). You can use this custom persistent link to your open access article to send to readers.
Rutgers librarians with expertise in scholarly communication can:
- Provide information on scholarly networking options for you
- Schedule instruction for your graduate students on best practices for sharing scholarship
Have questions about using scholarly communication tools? Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: November 29, 2017