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Oct 14 / scholarscooperative


What is ResearchGate?

Many WSU researchers have become active members of ResearchGate, a social networking site specifically for researchers to share their scholarship, ask and answer questions, and connect and collaborate with colleagues. Described as “a sort of mash-up of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” by the New York Times, ResearchGate has become an increasingly popular tool since being founded in 2009.

Some useful ResearchGate features are:

  • The ability to publish your non-peer-reviewed research in order to get feedback from other researchers
  • Tracking of views, downloads and citations, and providing system-generated “impact points”
  • A lively and robust Q&A section allowing researchers to ask and answer questions of one another

What about copyright?

If you hold the copyright to your work, you can determine where you want your work on display. In most cases, however, copyrights have been transferred to the publishers. Depending on your agreements with your publishers, you may be violating copyright law by posting your full-text articles in ResearchGate. A great tool to determine publisher copyright and self-archiving policies is SHERPA/RoMEO. Most publishers allow for self-archiving of the post-print of your work in an institutional repository or the author’s personal website, but make no provisions for archiving in a commercial social networking site. ResearchGate claims that individual profile pages on their site are considered the author’s personal websites in a past press release, although we are unable to verify the claim.

Is it a long-term archival solution?

ResearchGate is a commercial enterprise and has no obligation to provide continuous support for its archival benefits. The company could decide to change strategic direction or close its doors entirely. Likewise, the company could be sold similarly to the recent acquisition of Mendeley by Elsevier.

Is there a perpetual, copyright-compliant way to self-archive?

As stated above, ResearchGate provides a number of useful tools for researchers and we encourage you to use it if it works for you, noting the potential shortcomings highlighted above.

If you are looking for a true Open Access solution, DigitalCommons@WayneState, WSU’s institutional repository, may be exactly what you need. We can provide you with an Open Access platform, complete with permanent and stable URLs. We can help you retain control of your copyright and ensure that the scholarship you deposit to DC@WSU is copyright-compliant. DC@WSU provides you with monthly readership reports. Furthermore, DC@WSU is indexed by Google and Google Scholar providing impressive discoverability of your work.

The Digital Commons Network links your scholarship with fellow researchers from  over 300 institutions.

For those of you maintaining a ResearchGate profile, we would be happy to deposit your works in DigitalCommons@WayneState for you, as well.  Just send us an e-mail at