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In this recent paper the author suggests why we should not upload our full-size (non-open access) papers on social portals like Academia.edu (he does not mention Researchgate but the idea should be similar).

Any comments/opinions?


"Now, to be fair, the idea that is implied by this suggestion – that the Academia.edu platform for sharing research represents just another form of open access – is a common one. Yet posting on Academia.edu is far from being ethically and politically equivalent to using an institutional open access repository.

October 19-25 is International Open Access Week 2015, an annual event designed to promote the importance of making academic research available online to scholars and the general public free of charge. But when it comes achieving this goal is the open access movement in danger of being somewhat outflanked by Academia.edu?"


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A post addressing a similar question is at http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/2015/12/a-social-networking-site-is-not-an-open-access-repository/ . It highlights the differences between those non-OA sites and OA repositories.
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4 Answers

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These websites require logins, are not properly searchable when you are not a member, not indexed into any scholarly search engine (excluding Gscholar because it is not a scholarly search engine), and do not carry public licenses.

So no, this is not a viable Open Access route, but an advanced sharing mechanism (can be seen as the equivalent of sharing it with a listserv on email).
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A colleague made me aware of this site which seems to be a more open alternative to academia.edu and ResearchGate: https://www.scienceopen.com/
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by (330 points)

ResearchGate's terms and conditions are especially tyrannical. Specifically, they state:

The software running the Service, the site design, the logos and other graphics, articles and other texts as well as the database are protected by copyright and property of the Provider.

The Provider here means ResearchGate, so these terms appear to assert that ResearchGate owns the rights to uploaded articles. Quite reprehensible and definitely not open!

Nonetheless, uploading your articles to a walled garden may ease access barriers and could help garner article attention. I suggest making the article available from at least one truly open repository. And then you can decide for yourself whether the attention and access benefits warrant supporting a parasitic social network for academics.

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What is a "truly open repository" and how do you handle copyrights then?
by (330 points)
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@Nadia, a "truly open repository" should have the following characteristics:

+ clearly state the license of the uploaded content
+ encourage open licenses (especially CC-BY or CC0) while placing no restrictions beyond those placed by the authors
+ no access restrictions – includes paywalls, logins, or scraping prohibitions
+ content backup in case the repository fails. See [CLOCKSS](https://www.clockss.org/clockss/Home) as an example
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by (783 points)

As it happens, I just saw an invitation on the GOAL mailing list that seems highly relevant. The event is called, “Why Are We Not Boycotting Academia.edu?”

Here it is:

With over 36 million visitors each month, the San Francisco-based platform-capitalist company Academia.edu is hugely popular with researchers. Its founder and CEO Richard Price maintains it is the ‘largest social-publishing network for scientists’, and ‘larger than all its competitors put together’. Yet posting on Academia.edu is far from being ethically and politically equivalent to using an institutional open access repository, which is how it is often understood by academics.

Academia.edu’s financial rationale rests on the ability of the venture-capital-funded professional entrepreneurs who run it to monetize the data flows generated by researchers. Academia.edu can thus be seen to have a parasitical relationship to a public education system from which state funding is steadily being withdrawn. Its business model depends on academics largely educated and researching in the latter system, labouring for Academia.edu for free to help build its privately-owned for-profit platform by providing the aggregated input, data and attention value. 

To date over 15,000 researchers have taken a stand against the publisher Elsevier by adding their name to the list on the Cost of Knowledge website demanding they change how they operate. Just recently 6 editors and 31 editorial-board members of one of Elsevier's journals, Lingua, went so far as to resign, leading to calls for a boycott and for support for Glossa, the open access journal they plan to start instead. By contrast, the business practices of Academia.edu have gone largely uncontested. 

This is all the more surprising given that when Elsevier bought the academic social network Mendeley in 2013 (it was suggested at the time that Elsevier was mainly interested in acquiring Mendeley’s user data), many academics deleted their profiles out of protest. Yet generating revenue from the exploitation of user data is exactly the business model underlying academic social networks such as Academia.edu. 

This event will address the following questions:

  • Why have researchers been so ready to campaign against for-profit academic publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and Taylor & Francis/Informa, but not against for-profit platforms such as Academia.edu ResearchGate and Google Scholar?
  • Should academics refrain from providing free labour for these publishing companies too?  
  • Are there non-profit alternatives to such commercial platforms academics should support instead?
  • Could they take inspiration from the editors of Lingua (now Glossa) and start their own scholar-owned and controlled platform cooperatives for the sharing of research?
  • Or are such ‘technologies of the self’ or ‘political technologies of individuals’, as we might call them following Michel Foucault, merely part of a wider process by which academics are being transformed into connected individuals who endeavour to generate social, public and professional value by acting as microentrepreneurs of their own selves and lives?  

About the speakers

Janneke Adema is Research Fellow in Digital Media at Coventry University. She has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and edited books including New Formations; New Media & Society; The International Journal of Cultural Studies; New Review of Academic Librarianship; LOGOS: The Journal of the World Book Community; and Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy. She blogs at Open Reflections: http://www.openreflections.org/

Pascal Aventurier has been leading the Regional Scientific Information Team at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research’s (INRA, France) PACA Centre since 2002. He is also co-leader of the scientific information technology group. His focus is on research data, linked open data, open science, knowledge management and controlled vocabularies, as well as researching digital and social tool practices. His team is also exploring the evolution of social networks for academic use. His recent piece on ‘Academic social networks: challenges and opportunities’, is available here: http://www.unica-network.eu/sites/default/files/Academic_Social_Networks_Challenges_opportunities.pdf

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Scholarly Communication at the MLA, and visiting professor at Coventry University. The author of Planned Obsolescence (2011) she is also co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons. Her recent piece on Academia.edu, ‘Academia. Not Edu’, is available here: http://www.plannedobsolescence.net/academia-not-edu/.

Gary Hall is Professor of Media and Performing Arts, Coventry University, UK, and co-founder of Open Humanities Press. His new monograph, Pirate Philosophy, is forthcoming from MIT Press in early 2016. His recent piece on Academia.edu, ‘What Does Academia.edu’s Success Mean for Open Access?’, is available here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2015/10/22/does-academia-edu-mean-open-access-is-becoming-irrelevant/ 

David Parry joined Saint Joseph's University in the Fall of 2013. His work focuses on understanding the complex social and cultural transformations brought about by the development of the digital network. He is particularly interested in understanding how the internet transforms political power and democracy. He also researches and is an advocate for Open Access Research. His work can be found at www.outsidethetext.com.

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Thanks, Christian, I might even be able to make it to this meeting...
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by (783 points)

Paolo Mangiafico has another contribution to this debate. He recommends VIVO because Adademia.edu and similar services disallow data re-use and lead to vendor lock-in:


by (295 points)
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VIVO seems to be a nice find, I really think that for academics it is impotant to have an online platform that lets them  keep contol of their work and exchange it freely with others, without any obscure interests of commercial companies or stringent copyright issues getting into the way ... +1

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