Springer Nature is extending its content sharing pilot with site ResearchGate, originally launched in March, with a new phase that will see the publisher roll out four times as much content on the platform, but also bring in a restriction on downloading material for non-subscribers.
ResearchGate users with an institutional subscription will be able to access, download and share the content; users without such a subscription will have access to articles in a non-downloadable format. In the previous phase of the pilot, all users could download content, whether they had a subscription or not.
The second phase of the pilot will also see ResearchGate and Springer Nature working with librarians, assessing how a more comprehensive picture of the use of research literature can be provided.
Springer Nature said the new pilot phase, which will run until the autumn, would be “assessed via internal research and community feedback to see whether it is a sustainable model for the future.”
Meanwhile a survey of 700 ResearchGate users found 90% reported a “positive or very positive” reaction to Springer Nature and ResearchGate working together, with 96% being “comfortable or very comfortable” with their Nature full-texts being automatically added to their articles on the platform.
Steven Inchcoombe, chief publishing officer at Springer Nature, said: “Springer Nature is constantly adapting and finding new ways to help researchers advance discovery and support the vital role that librarians play within the scholarly communication chain. Our partnership with ResearchGate is one way in which we are doing that, and we are delighted to have seen such a positive response. This extended pilot will enable us to build on our previous offerings, providing an enriched experience for the scientific community that we serve through enhanced accessibility and reporting.”
ResearchGate c.e.o. Ijad Madisch called the partnership with Springer Nature “a pivotal move for the scientific community around the world”, saying: “ResearchGate’s mission is to connect the world of science and make research open to all. Building on the success of the first phase of the pilot, we are happy to take another step towards that mission by expanding access to valuable Springer Nature content on ResearchGate. Judging from the significantly positive user feedback during phase one of this pilot, the scientific community is very supportive of this.”
Academic sharing site ResearchGate has previously run into trouble from publishers including Elsevier, Wiley, Wolters Kluwer, The American Chemical Society and Brill who issued takedown notices, claiming it was sharing up to seven million copyrighted articles without permission. A number of journal publishers also launched legal proceedings against the site. Springer Nature and ResearchGate reached agreement, along with CUP and Thieme, on sharing articles in April 2018 in a way that would offer protection to author and publisher rights. As part of the agreement, ResearchGate said it would cooperate with publishers in educating users about their rights on copyright-protected content, providing better information about when they may share their journal articles on the network. ResearchGate said it would also continue to promptly remove copyright-infringing content when alerted by publishers.