Academic social media sites are becoming commonplace. Referred to as “Scholarly Collaboration Networks,” (SCN’s), sites such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and Mendeley.com were all created to allow academics to share their work and network with others in their chosen fields.
One interesting aspect of these sites is the degree to which they encourage the uploading of academic papers to their sites. While this may seem like a good idea, authors who choose to do this may be violating the copyright agreement they signed when the article was published.
Journals disseminate their content through subscriptions, both hard copy and digital. They earn revenue through these subscriptions, and authors who share their published work without permission are (1) violating the agreement of the copyright that they’ve signed, and (2) denying the publisher of their subscription fee.
ResearchGate is currently being sued by Elsevier and the American Chemical Society to stop the uploading of papers to their sites, and it is unclear how these actions may affect authors. Based on agreements signed at publication, authors may be opening themselves up to lawsuits. It is important to understand the limitations of each copyright agreement signed, because different publishers have different expectations.
For example, I recently signed an agreement with Taylor & Francis that contain my rights as an author. With regard to sharing, the agreement explicitly states that I have the right to:
- freely post the original version of the manuscript that was initially submitted to the journal, prior to review (the AOM: Author’s Original Manuscript)
- freely post the accepted manuscript (the AM), but not the final version of record (VOR) and that:
- I “include any amendments or deletions or warnings relating to the article issues or published by us” AND
- I include the following acknowledgment, “The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in http://www.tandfonline.com/.”
- I follow the embargo set forth by some journals for sharing the AM (http://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/journal-list/). Their criminal justice journals have an 18 month embargo period.
- I have permission to upload the final VOR if I paid for open access rights (T&F charges around $2,300 for gold access).
- share the digital VOR with colleagues (i.e,. single copies via email) or printed version via regular mail
- share the printed VOR with my students
Wiley has a similar policy, which can be found in this handy image (and similar in concept to the T&F guidelines):