Scholarly collaboration networks (SCNs) are top of mind these days for publishers and academic societies. One such network is ResearchGate. A new alliance of publishers, called the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, is taking steps to address widespread distribution of published articles in violation of copyright. For this article, I spoke with James Milne, Senior Vice President at the American Chemical Society (ACS) and chair of the Coalition.

ResearchGate is a for-profit undertaking, with reportedly more than $85M in funding from venture capitalists and other high profile investors. It is arguably the most popular SCN, likely due to an aggressive and very successful program of email marketing. The slide below, from a presentation by Philip Carpenter (John Wiley & Sons) given at the Academic Publishing in Europe Conference (APE) earlier this year in Berlin, offers a sense of the enormous traffic levels ResearchGate sees, more than even the largest of scholarly publishers (and close to 7X that of Sci-Hub):

 

graph showing traffic to websites
Used with permission.

Researchers clearly are making great use of ResearchGate. Part of the reason is that ResearchGate is easy to use. Gaining access to large numbers of articles without the hassle of journal authentication systems is likely a large draw, as is access to papers from journals to which one’s library does not subscribe. Several studies (examples here, here and here) have shown that these networks are actually used almost exclusively for profile building, and the uploading and downloading of research articles.

Any academic will tell you that ResearchGate looms large in their daily life. Researchers receive massive numbers of unsolicited emails from ResearchGate on a daily basis, and while 90% of these will end up in the trash, the fact is that the remaining 10% are actually useful – the brand of ResearchGate is front and center in their minds.

Researchers particularly appreciate ResearchGate because they can easily follow who cites their articles, and they can follow references to find other articles they may find of interest. Researchers do not stop to think about copyright concerns and in fact, the platform encourages them, frequently, to upload their published papers.

Users likely pay little attention to whether the article they are accessing is being presented to them legally. There are, of course, many papers hosted on ResearchGate that are not violating copyright. Authors can and do often post the accepted manuscript version respecting any embargo policies and where such posting is allowed for commercial purposes. ResearchGate provides links to the SHERPA/ROMEO database and provides the color designation for each journal to facilitate sharing policies

Puzzle doors open to the dreamy clouds.

Publishers have been grappling with what to do about SCNs, and ResearchGate in particular for close to a decade now. ResearchGate is hosting a mix of material which includes a significant number of final published Version of Record articles, in violation of copyright. Further, there are reports that ResearchGate has stripped out metadata from papers, rebranded them, and altered links in papers to point to their own hosted versions of papers, rather than the original journal. If true, these represent direct copyright infringements that go beyond the mere hosting and encouraging of copyrighted materials.

Publishers and societies have tried to find common ground and cooperative, mutually beneficial solutions for working with SCNs. This includes the STM’s (International Association of STM Publishers) Sharing Principles, which have been signed-on to by several SCNs. It appears that such efforts have not succeeded with ResearchGate, which has resulted in the formation of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, which includes publishers and societies ready to take action, ranging from legal requests asking ResearchGate to remove infringing articles, to litigation.

Milne, Spokesperson for the Coalition for Responsible Sharing has a significant history in academic publishing across corporate and society publishing. In his 25 years he has worked at Elsevier, been Managing Director of publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry, Global Publishing Director for the Physical Sciences at Wiley, and currently is Senior Vice President in charge of journals publishing at the ACS.

Formation of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing

The Coalition for Responsible sharing currently includes five members, with several not-for-profit publishers and research societies expected to join shortly: ACS, Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, Wiley, and Brill.

According to Milne, the Coalition is a recent coming together of publishers that are also members of STM. For over two years, STM has being attempting to discuss with SCNs an amicable solution on how publishers of all stripes could work together in a fully collaborative manner, with SCNs as part of the scholarly communication ecosystem.

Milne related that STM’s role had been to work with a broad range of publishers, representing them in discussions with ResearchGate in attempts to have all parties sign up to the Voluntary Principles of Article Sharing on Scholarly Collaboration Networks. A separate proposal, offering a route to providing automated processing of uploads, indicating to users whether an article can be shared privately, or publicly was also made via a public letter. Unfortunately, these efforts have so far yielded no results. Individual publishing houses are now taking on the task outside of STM. The five publishers in the Coalition believe that the activities of ResearchGate undermine the integrity and sustainability of the scholarly communication system, Milne said.

The statement from the Coalition mentions that members are prepared to issue take-down notices for content that violates copyright and that at least two publishers, Elsevier and the American Chemical Society, are pursuing further legal action.

Milne told me that members of the Coalition will issue take down notices (an initial batch exceeding 100,000 to be sent imminently) to ResearchGate, and in fact ResearchGate has asked publishers to do just that if they discover articles that infringe copyright. The trouble is that this is a paper by paper solution. Coaliton publishers also want ResearchGate to help explain to authors how to share research, while bearing in mind the need to be copyright compliant.

According to Milne, ACS and Elsevier are taking further legal action against ResearchGate with the thought that even if infringing content is removed, more will be uploaded, and that take downs do not address the underlying pattern of behavior from ResearchGate.

“Copyrighted material should not be made available for free, unless there is a license in place, or the process aligns to the Voluntary Principles of Sharing” he said.

It should also be stated that most content on ResearchGate does not infringe copyright; with that said, as many as 7 million copyrighted articles are currently freely available on its platform.

The popularity of ResearchGate with users is a potential public relations problem.

“This really is part of the core aspect, and why we were trying to work with ResearchGate towards an amicable solution,” Milne said. He notes that the issue here is really that if ResearchGate were to work with publishers to keep their environment strong and compliant, then there would be a significant benefit to researchers, so it is not the publishers causing loss of access here, but ResearchGate. Publishers have also been quite active on such initiatives as How Can I Share It, and authors are encouraged to share responsibly.

Asked whether there is a positive outcome to researchers in this scenario, Milne said that publishers have been active in educating authors about how to share articles. Publishers are of course promoting Gold OA and the maximum ability to share that Gold allows. Researchers are now more engaged in sharing activity. Researchers should benefit from publishers and ResearchGate working together.

ResearchGate is of course a for-profit entity, with vast amounts of venture capital funding. I asked Milne if there were any similarities to the early days of YouTube, and whether the ultimate solution would be a revenue-sharing arrangement along the lines of that site. Milne said that none of the publishers involved have explored revenue generating arrangements under agreements to license content to ResearchGate.  The primary concern of publishers is to have ResearchGate abide by the Voluntary Principles and respect copyright.

Asked what ACS and Elsevier hope to get from the legal filing, Milne said, “We want ResearchGate to stop scraping materials and modifying copyrighted materials. We don’t want to see authors posting their content to ResearchGate in good faith, only to find out that they have to take it down later.”

The Coalition essentially wants the courts to tell ResearchGate to work with publishers on collaborative solutions that are good for the research community. Currently, ResearchGate’s lack of responsiveness has lead the coalition to conclude that the only option available is to issue take down notices and pursue legal action in hopes that ResearchGate will comply.

As Chair of the Coalition, Milne invites publishers and scholarly societies who are interested in joining, should contact him directly or visit the Coalition’s website.

Robert Harington

Robert Harington

Robert Harington is Associate Executive Director, Publishing at the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Robert has the overall responsibility for publishing at the AMS, including books, journals and electronic products.

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Discussion

44 Thoughts on "ResearchGate: Publishers Take Formal Steps to Force Copyright Compliance"

Strength in numbers? Perhaps by acting through a broad coalition and going after ResearchGate instead of individuals, publishers will stiffen each other’s backbones.  The American Psychological Association got cold feet and backed down after it pissed off its members and authors with thousands of individual takedown notices. Elsevier went it alone and fired off thousands of takedown notices around 2013, but seemed to back down.

I’m conflicted. Sites like ResearchGate have to be bleeding the publishers, and publishers need to be profitable to persist and hopefully improve their providing essential services to science, yet the present system is atrocious. I am fortunate to have good library support, but off campus where I do most of my searching and reading, it falls apart. I have a complicated scheme of VPN that are supposed to make the IP recognition work, but it’s tedious and only partially works. I have personal access to scientific society publications (hurray for them), but their miserable system of keeping track of passwords, clicking link after link, wait, sometimes, have the webpage hang, and repeat authentication is so clunky I usually don’t bother and wait until I’m back at work. Or just get it from an author on ResearchGate.  And, the publishers’ consortium How Can I Share It? service has room for improvement. I punched in doi’s for some of my copyright-free articles published in otherwise paywalled journals (e.g., “hybrid OA”), and the site didn’t recognize the exceptions, and told me I couldn’t post the publisher’s VOR.

I’d rant more, but right now I need to go check that my ResearchGate postings are in order.

Further, there are reports that ResearchGate has stripped out metadata from papers, rebranded them, and altered links in papers to point to their own hosted versions of papers, rather than the original journal.

If true, this development is troubling, but not unlike the preferential linking within PubMed to keep readers on the site. Can you be more specific about the reports you have seen/heard? A screen shot would be helpful.

One big difference is that the NLM is not a for-profit entity. That said, I’m not aware of PubMed changing the links within papers that are deposited (just preferentially linking to their own versions in search results). Do you know of PubMed creating derivative works?

That’s not completely true. RG doesn’t strip anything off that I can tell. What they do is create their own rebranded first page with clickable links to RG versions and other links within their walled garden. They are a bit disingenuous in this behavior, in that they add a line to bottom of the page that “The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file” when in fact this is their default and it’s not intuitive to users that it’s a controllable option (under Privacy settings of all places). Other of RG’s defaults are so unintuitive that I have to wonder if it’s not deliberate. Even the fact that there even are user settings isn’t obvious – it’s just a little down arrow in a corner, rather than the word “Settings.”   Easy to upload full-text publications, but removing them? Not so easy. It did not readily occur to me that the way to delete that full text file that I mistakenly uploaded is to click “Add Resources.”  Those obnoxious phishing emails that RG sends out in the names of its users can be controlled by a tiny text option buried under “Notification settings.”  I posted some screenshots of these obnoxious RG features here.

Certainly conflicted about RG. It does provide authors a very valuable networking and sharing service, but RG is aggressive and they play fast and loose.

I rarely access Research Gate except to update my profile and decline requests for full-text copies of copyrighted articles. Lately it seems as if there are so many of these types of profiles to manage. Today’s entry inspired me to log in to Research Gate for a look.

Tangent-warning: I just took the survey about sharing research pre-publication. Yes there is a push that this (along with apriori publication of protocols and making data available) will hold researchers accountable in some way. But these sorts of things are not aligned with Human Subjects Research (IRB) requirements. This creates a problem for faculty scholars (which is more acute for the growing number of non-tenure track, contract faculty.)

Back to sharing of copyrighted materials. I don’t. Despite nagging by Research Gate (and other platforms.) Sometimes I am nice and respond by encouraging the requester to check via interlibrary loan. But I did notice something odd today, a few of my articles that are not open access were not on the “your research items don’t have full text yet.” That means they have been uploaded by a co-author. Even though I object to that occurring, it happened anyway.

Virginia, somewhere near the file on RG it should say who uploaded the paper. I have had several authors swear they did not upload the VOR even though RG claims that they did. I have no way of knowing which is true but I do wonder if RG is getting papers from “other sources.” If the paper has a watermark indicating who downloaded the PDF (or from which university) you could compare whether it was from your co-author’s institution (this assumes the RG isn’t stripping those watermarks out). But, yes, you are correct that if you have an account and your co-author uploads the paper, it will be present on your profile as well.

It would be interesting to know what ResearchGate thinks its possible legal defense could be. It has no protection as an ISP (Internet Service Provider) under Section 512. Surely, fair use would not apply here since ResearchGate is a for-profit company and the articles distributed are entire articles, not excerpts. The market effect is surely evident. There is no “transformative use” here. It would appear that none of the four factors of fair use would favor ResearchGate. Precedents like decisions in the Napster, Aimster, and Grokster cases do not favor Research Gate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe_harbor_(law)#United_States
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has notable safe-harbor provisions which protect Internet service providers from the consequences of their users’ actions. (Similarly, the EU directive on electronic commerce provides a similar provision of “mere conduit” which, while not exactly the same, serves much the same function as the DMCA safe harbor in this instance.) The US Patent and Trademark Briefing on ISP Liability states that in order to be eligible for safe harbor, the ISP must have adopted and reasonably implemented a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers.

Yeah, but it didn’t get Aimster, Napster, or Grokster off the hook.

ResearchGate spammed me so much, I actually appreciate if someone takes them down.

In my domain, barely anybody has a RG profile, and many actually boycott RG as much as Elsevier. There is nothing “open“ about RG, only free, not open.

I find ResearchGate actually useful. Among the various trash they notify me from time to time that the researcher I follow published a new paper. Sometimes you can even read it.

I find twitter quite useful too. I follow about 20 journals. I even have 2 incidental followers. I cannot figure our what Facebook is for and how it can be useful. I have a mostly inactive account.

Real spammers are LinkedId and Academia.edu. LinkedId took information from my address book and continually asks me if I know that and that person. Of course I know a female student 30 years younger than me. What should I do about that? Similarly other people to whom I sent an email. Disgusting. Academia.edu beats them all. They regularly send me emails informing that they have generated an account for me and if I pay money they can let me look at it.

Why are Elsevier and ACS not suing the researchers and academics directly? Seems to me, as ResearchGate user, that the user (academics) control for the greater part, what files they upload. Indeed, ResearchGate provides the platform, but are the copyright violators not the academics? I can’t understand why Ijad Madisch simply cannot make ResearchGate copyright-compliant. I think it’s fair for researchers who may have knowingly, or unknowingly, uploaded copyrighted full texts (PDFs), to be given a warning and notice for each copyrighted version at ResearchGate. It’s not a very sustainable way of dealing with this issue, but it seems like the most effective. Academics who do not comply should have their account shut down.

Academics who publish with Springer Nature, for example, also receive a PDF file, referred to as the author’s copy, which is NOT the same as the final PDF file that is published on the journal/publisher website at SpringerLink. Reading the fine-print on that file leaves academics with the impression that posting that “author’s copy” is legit, i.e., not a copyright violation (once embargo periods have been respected).

Unpaywall is a slop-job and waste of time. The solution should exist in a direct publisher-academic relationship.

Finally, how do Elsevier, ACS and ResearchGate differentiate between a Sci-Hub downloaded PDF file and one that was downloaded directly from the publisher website?

From personal experience, for 2-3 years, being extremely copyright-conscious at ResearchGate, I would ask leading researchers in the plant sciences why their profiles carried so many copyrighted papers, and if copyright violation was not a criminal activity in their countries. I know that US Government employees such as USDA, UK/Canadian Government employees whose copyright belongs to the Crown, and possibly others do not sign over copyright (a ridiculous exception, IMHO), but does that exempt them from posting the final publisher-created PDF files?

Academics need grass-roots level education and training about copyright, even as so many use Sci-Hub (as John Bohannon stated, who uses Sci-Hub? Everybody) [1].

A curious (and ironic) case. A Chinese researcher, Lei Lei recently published a paper in Science and Engineering Ethics reporting on the fraud and academic misconduct in China, as evaluated by retractions [2], even gaining an interview at Retraction Watch [3], and yet his Springer Nature copyrighted paper is freely available on ResearchGate, posted by Lei Lei. So, I ask Lei Lei, is copyright violation not academic misconduct or illegal in China? Or is the suing of ResearchGate a distraction from suing the real copyright infringing entities, the academics who post at ResearchGate?

Where do the funders like the Gates Foundation stand on this?

Finally, considering the massive copyright infringement of Springer Nature and possible Nature Publishing Group journals at ResearchGate, why are these publishers not part of the Coalition for Responsible Sharing?

A lot more discussion and clarification from all sides is required. Academics will once again become the victims ultimately of this copyright circus.

[1] http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/04/whos-downloading-pirated-papers-everyone
[2] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11948-017-9962-7
[3] http://retractionwatch.com/2017/09/27/20-years-retractions-china-misconduct/

Disclaimer: I am not 100% confident that any full texts of mine are not copyright compliant, but I would expect ResearchGate to alert me if any were not. This is because on several occasions, ResearchGate adds publications to my account without my permission, or knowledge, but I am unclear if ResearchGate adds full texts.
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jaime_Teixeira_Da_Silva

” I know that US Government employees such as USDA, UK/Canadian Government employees whose copyright belongs to the Crown, and possibly others do not sign over copyright (a ridiculous exception, IMHO), but does that exempt them from posting the final publisher-created PDF files?”

It does, at least in the USA. but it is a very narrow exception. All authors have to be US government employees, which makes their works part of the public domain and which cannot be copyrighted. Not included are a lot of multiple author papers that include academics, contractors or others, and it doesn’t apply to papers by academics supported by government funding. CHORUS was supposed to provide public access  to those. CHORUS had a 1 Oct 2016 start date, and with the default 12-month embargo it should now start making government funded works directly available through the publishers’ websites. Anyone heard? Is CHORUS still a thing, or did it go away in the new regime?

These issues got thrashed about in detail in this SK posting, down in the bottom third of the 44 comments on that hit-a-nerve-post. (https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2015/04/08/revisiting-the-price-of-posting-pubmed-central-spends-most-of-its-budget-handling-author-manuscripts/)

My understanding is that authors who are employed by the US government are not allowed to copyright their work, and this is the case for papers, even if only one author is a government employee. I believe this is true for British government employees too, and most publishers have government licenses they use for such situations (essentially putting the works into the public domain).

CHORUS (http://www.chorusaccess.org) is indeed alive and thriving, and has just signed its first agreement with a non-US funding agency (https://www.chorusaccess.org/jst-signing-ceremony/), started a trial with another non-US government agency (https://www.chorusaccess.org/chor-continues-international-expansion-australian-partnership/), and added another US federal funder to their service (https://www.chorusaccess.org/iarpa-signs-participation-agreement-chorus/). CHORUS is also building tools for university libraries to help aid in their compliance efforts (https://www.chorusaccess.org/university-denver-joins-chorus-tuning-public-access-compliance/).

From the current home page, CHORUS is tracking over 400,000 articles and more than 82,000 of them have been made publicly available by publishers to meet funder requirements. (full disclosure, I am on the board of CHORUS)

I also had it in my head that one author was sufficient to invoke the “public domain – government works” copyright exemption argument until I got into a dispute with Wiley in 2015 over a paper in which 3 of the 4 authors were government employees and which had 100% public funding support. I chased it up the chain until I got referred to a government attorney who handled IP issues, and she confirmed Wiley’s position – all authors needed to be government employees, unless we could excerpt out the different contributions by author.

Good to hear CHORUS is still in tune. Maybe there will be a forthcoming post ?

Different government lawyers, different opinions. Sometimes at the Agency level, sometimes at the individual lawyer level.

I think that citing papers read illegally must be considered unethical.

Dear Editor, replying to the reviewers #1 and #2, I am familiar with the excellent work by Captain Jack Sparrow published in Cell, but unfortunately my institution is not subscribed to Cell. I read a copy I had found under a bush. In these circumstances, I cannot cite this remarkable work.

Fortunately, there are legal and ethical means of getting access to most papers. If researchers were better at posting copies in their university and other subject specific repositories, this would be less of an issue.

That would be the second argument of my lawyer. The first would be that nobody can prove the defendant actually read the article he cited.

But I am about ethics, about self-imposed constraints. I do not cite articles I have not read legally.

I’m wondering if anyone can point to these reports: “Further, there are reports that ResearchGate has stripped out metadata from papers, rebranded them, and altered links in papers to point to their own hosted versions of papers, rather than the original journal.” I’m seeing repeated instances of this claim in various settings and no one providing substantiating evidence or even identifying the source of the original claim.

I’ve heard this informally but haven’t tried to collect any evidence myself. Perhaps a quick test would be to download a journal article to which you have access and compare what you get to a version from ResearchGate.

While you are in some ways correct, since I have downloaded things from RG that don’t have these changes, the problem with the test is that I can’t take any sample I might do as evidence that RG doesn’t do this. Only that they didn’t do it on the ones I’ve looked at.

I’ll also add that I think it is on an author to cite their sources. If “there are reports” … let’s see the reports!

Yes, another example of the assertion but with no evidence. Actually one of the ones I was referencing in my seeing repeated instances …

I suspect there may be legal and/or strategic reasons for not publicly dumping all evidence before a court case begins, but we will see. We did specifically say this was based on “reports” and speculate on what it meant, only if it were to prove true, and that’s probably where one should see it at this point.

I’m sure there are for the coalition. My point was about this SK piece. It says there are reports. The piece didn’t provide them and I was giving feedback that think it should have. Let the reader evaluate the basis for inclusion in the essay. “Reports” could cover wide ground – from hallway gossip to a formal analysis and publication so, as a reader, seeing the source is important for assessing the claim. One of the great things about writing on the web, demonstrated well elsewhere in this piece (e.g. here here here) is that one can link directly to the evidence. No need for wrangling footnotes!

https://www.researchgate.net/file.PostFileLoader.html?id=58c92391217e2031224d805c&assetKey=AS%3A472133680799744%401489576849427

Example of how RG at least used to (this may have changed, RG doesn’t openly discuss such changes) modify PDFs. All the odd blue links go back to RG instead of the original locations. So they don’t easily map to DOIs, and I cannot easily import the reference into my reference manager anymore. I hate these fckd up PDFs. And yes, that PDF looks very much like a copyright violation on Elsevier – it contains the Elsevier logo.

RG is clearly on thin ice here. They don’t just redistribute the version uploaded by the author, but they modify it again. So now it’s RGs own version, they can’t just claim they are “just ISPs”.

But it looks as if they are mass taking down PDFs already. Almost every link to a ResearchGate PDF now appears to be disabled, taking you to the metadata and “request full-text” page now instead.

But it looks as if they are mass taking down PDFs already. Almost every link to a ResearchGate PDF now appears to be disabled, taking you to the metadata and “request full-text” page now instead.

To be clear, my understanding is that the Coalition has not sent out any Take Down Notices as of yet, and that ResearchGate is taking these actions on its own.

You haven’t seen evidence because it’s not true. RG doesn’t strip anything off the publisher’s version. Rather, it slaps its own first page on top, redirecting links within its own site. I described this and more questionable RG features in more detail above in my reply to Phil Davis.

Hi Chris,
How extensive is your analysis? How many papers have you checked, and what is the date range on their uploading to the site? If you have data available, I’d love to see it.

I haven’t done any analysis beyond exploring the features fairly carefully to try to slap down the more obnoxious ones on my own profile (partially successful). However, I did double check my understanding of the how the “enriched” [rebranded] ResearchGate full text downloads work. Before commenting on this blog, I enabled it for my profile, and did the test download of a paper for which I made screenshots mentioned earlier.  However, after un-checking the option, if you were to follow the RG link to that same paper, it would be unaltered. I noticed that with RG’s “Enrich my publications” option checked the [default setting] journal articles got a new RG front page, but that files I had tagged as Technical Reports were unaltered. So this different behavior for document type and the profile “owner’s” option to disable the RG “enrichment” features would account for why Lisa Hinchliffe noted inconsistently finding publishers’ versions or RG versions

I’m quite certain that the “enrichment” option was the default when I signed up around 2014, because it took some work figuring out how to kill it. Whether that’s still the case, I don’t know.  Perhaps it would be worth signing up, for opposition research if no other reason. Or talk someone else into it. Just be careful what you click!

Good to know, thanks Chris. You may be dealing with a small sample size and you are assuming that ResearchGate’s behavior has been static since 2008 to the present.

Seems like everybody is seeing only the “small” sample then?

I almost exclusively get “enriched” PDF from RG, with all links trying to direct you back to RG.

I hate these RG versions of articles. They add a useless page to the front (nobody except the original author cares for these statistics, and you don’t need to redownload your own PDF to see these numbers!), and replace perfectly good links with bad links back into their own site.

ResearchGate is playing a very foul game here.

Just as they did with the fake “invitations” they kept sending out for years, before eventually (and silently) changing the defaults to something sane only when seeing the negative press pile up on them.

As a matter of fact, this is also an essential difference between scihub (and no, not everybody uses scihub. When I really want to read a paper I cannot access, I usually send the authors an email… or I just don’t read the paper, if it’s not accessible – and it looks like this will soon apply to much of Elsevier…): while scihub aims at helping researchers in particular in low-income countries, ResearchGate is all about their own site. Their only interest is in growing, the typical startup behavior. Grow fast, while making huge losses. Then cash out before it falls apart. RG is not about providing open access; but about eventually making a lot of money from users that rely on it. That is why RG has to do the invitation spam thing, and the “encrapped PDFs” with all the backlinks. Why they provide fake ‘impact’ data, to make you feel good at their site (so you spend more time there). RG is not about opening, it is about locking in users into their system.

The authors fight against overcharging by Elsevier must be fought without the ResearchGate vendor-lock-in. I am surprised to not having seen anything here, e.g., on project DEAL. Apparently, most German universities have canceled their contracts with Elsevier already, or effective end of the year.
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/german-universities-plan-life-without-elsevier
List of universities canceling Elsevier contracts: https://www.projekt-deal.de/vertragskundigungen-elsevier-2017/

Honestly, I’ve been hearing complaints about changes in articles for years. The site continues to evolve, and what people are seeing now may not reflect the practices seen over the last decade.

Can anyone link to a RG record for a PDF with these “changed” links? I see plenty that have a cover page and I’ve seen alternative RG links in an RG record. But, I’ve never seen a PDF with changed links. Maybe my small sample!

bepress also puts a cover page on every downloaded PDF. Will be interesting to see if Elsevier changes this practice if it is part of what is considered egregious with RG.

Small correction. I didn’t say I inconsistently found RG or publisher versions. I said I didn’t find any examples that corroborated the “reports.”

In case anyone cares, I decided to test it out this morning with published articles where I have the right to upload. Uploading with “enhanced” led to a cover page being created that included the number of citations to the piece RG had tracked and a link back to the RG page for the piece. (Side note – bepress also adds a cover page to everything that is uploaded with links back to the repository but not a count of citations. And, with bepress there is no user choice. I’m not complaining though … I think it is a great service in both cases.) Uploading to RG with “enhanced” turn off just resulted in the PDF being loaded as is. I’ve had an account for too long to recall what the defaults were and/or if along the way I consented to a change to enhanced as the default. But, now that the test is over, I’m turning it back on.

I just can’t stop madly giggling at the sentences:
“… discussions with ResearchGate in attempts to have all parties sign up to the Voluntary Principles…”
“The primary concern of publishers is to have ResearchGate abide by the Voluntary Principles … ”
I also get a vision of Orwell smiling beatifically in his heaven at the wonderful newspeak. Voluntary Principles indeed… Now with extra lawyers!

That’s a shame, because it seems to me that going after ResearchGate about this is the right thing to do. They happily break rules and mislead members about what they can and can’t do. Their messages that “Do you know that this journal allows archiving” are very often wrong and even more often misleading. They should at least be forced to provide accurate information, but why not just enforce the correct behaviour directly on the platform and not even allow me to do this wrong? For me as someone who tries to share his stuff as much as possible within legal limits, it is really frustrating that no platform seems willing to tackle this issue by straightforward automation. Which is really the only way, because who can keep track of precise details of the conditions of each and every publisher without going insane in the process?

For all intents and purposes, this article and its comments indicate that most of these copyright and access issues would have been resolved, had a large-scale transition to Open Access has occurred on the level of scholars, journals and publishers. While it is early to say how ResearchGate will resolves the legal predicament in which it finds itself vis-a-vis publishers, policy makers and scientific associations ought, however, to be aware of the risks the commodification of the products of scientific labor ultimately poses for scholarly communities and networking platforms (http://openscience.com/researchgate-is-at-the-epicenter-of-legal-controversy-as-large-publishers-sue-it-over-copyright-infringements/).

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