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Publishers pursue ResearchGate over copyright infringements

Science reports that a major scientific publishing group is pursuing article sharing website ResearchGate over the illegal sharing of paywalled journal papers.

An attorney acting for the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers (STM) has written to ResearchGate asking for the site to work with STM to improve communication around its paper-sharing policies, and that the various stakeholder discuss whether non-compliant content should be on the ResearchGate site.

It’s understandable that publishers would want to protect their legitimate business interests. However, ResearchGate represents one of very few ways that members of the public have been able to access important research findings. If the sharing of papers on ResearchGate is constrained, then key stakeholders will be denied valuable evidence for their decision-making processes and operational practice. Increasingly, even researchers are unable to access paywalled journal papers because a growing number of universities aren’t able to afford the rising costs of journal subscriptions.

Jon Tennant, communications director of professional research network ScienceOpen, sums up the situation in this quote in the Science article: “The unasked question that this all comes down to is: Do publisher-owned rights matter more than the sharing of research for whatever benefit?”

While open access articles are becoming more prevalent, there’s still a long way to go. Publishers like STM need to revisit their business models so that instead of opposing the open publication of papers, they become supporters or even advocates of the open access model.

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Also published on Medium.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is a knowledge management (KM), environmental management, and education professional with over 30 years of experience in Australia and China. His work has received high-level acclaim and been recognised through a number of significant awards. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group at Wageningen University and Research, and holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction. He is also the editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (, and teaches in the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) Certified High-school Program (CHP).

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