The scholarly publisher Springer Nature and ResearchGate, a Berlin-based academic networking platform, announced the launch of an article-sharing pilot project last Friday (March 1).
With this new initiative, articles published in 23 Nature journals, including Nature, Nature Medicine, and Nature Neuroscience, between November 2017 and this March will be freely accessible from scientists’ ResearchGate pages.
“Springer Nature will upload all the necessary content, meaning that authors will not have to do anything to make their work available,” Susie Winter, the director of communications and engagement at Springer Nature, writes in an email to The Scientist. “Authors will still be bound by the license to publish agreement they entered into when they published with Nature Research.”
The initial pilot period for this project will last three months, during which “Springer Nature and ResearchGate will gather data about how and how often the articles are discovered, accessed, and used as well as feedback from authors and readers about their perceptions and experiences,” according to The Scholarly Kitchen.
Springer Nature publishes more than 3,000 academic journals across its three platforms, Nature, Springer, and BioMed Central. Whether all those titles will eventually be shared on ResearchGate is still unclear. “During the pilot period the companies will evaluate the new access and distribution model with the goal of upholding and expanding access to scientific content,” Danielle Bengsch, ResearchGate’s head of communications, writes in an email to The Scientist.
Cambridge University Press and Thieme have also announced collaborations with ResearchGate, while other publishers have taken a starkly different approach to the website. Elsevier and the American Chemical Society (ACS) have filed lawsuits against ResearchGate for illicit sharing of copyrighted work in Germany and the US, and several other publishers have stated that they would take steps to change the site’s practices.
“We feel that [ResearchGate] should take responsibility for what they upload and what they allow users to upload,” James Milne, the spokesperson for the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, a group of publishers including Elsevier and ACS that have taken a stance against ResearchGate, told The Scientist last October. “Their view is, I believe, that they feel that they are just a platform and they have no responsibilities in that context. That’s something that we disagree with.”
“Springer Nature’s view is that ResearchGate is a legitimate platform and a platform we want to work with,” Steven Inchcoombe, Springer Nature’s Chief Publishing Officer, tells The Scholarly Kitchen.
Ijad Madisch, ResearchGate’s CEO, notes in last week’s statement that ResearchGate is “looking forward to working with more industry partners with complementary capabilities and strengths like Springer Nature in the future to create the conditions in which scientific collaborations can flourish.”