I’ve written about piracy in scholarly communication before, and the two best heard of pirates, Research Gate and Academia.edu are slowly withering under attacks to their business model.
Both sites valiantly try to establish social networking for researchers. It is a good idea, and if it was sustainable, should be an excellent business. Unlike most social networking sites though, the content that is being created and shared doesn’t belong to the participants.
In the case of non-OA research outputs, the copyright for them has been signed over from the author (who gets it automatically for most academic research institutions) to the publisher, forever. That means when a researcher shares their work by uploading it to these two, they are breaking copyright law – they no longer own the right to share their work.
Both of these research social networking sites have undergone changes to try to placate publishers, instituting non anonymous downloading, and now, in the case of the most litigious and profiteering discipline of all, chemistry, they are twisting to implement technological changes to an essentially broken business model.
These semi-pirates are having their Napster moment. I give them a long, slow death, but that’s what’s headed for them. If you want to see a successful model of getting your research out there, look no further than https://arxiv.org/ or https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv, but note, there’s not a chemist to be seen…