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Who Isn’t Profiting Off the Backs of Researchers?


ResearchGate-gate isn’t utterly as familiar as other scandals, but it is something we competence be conference some-more about in the future.

A new essay published by Sarah Bond at Forbes encouraged researchers to mislay all of their articles from the for-profit company, Academia.edu. This has led to a call of comment deletions at the site, and also at ResearchGate, two sites dueling with any other to spin the “Facebook for academics.”

The issue Bond raises is this: Why should companies beget boost from investigate with little transparency? It’s a good question.

This sounds suspiciously like the whole erudite edition ecosystem to me, and it is not transparent because Academia.edu is in Bond’s crosshairs. For decades, for-profit companies have been making immeasurable sums of income from researchers’ work, and mostly with distinction margins in excess of 35 percent, larger than those even of Google (25 percent) Apple (29 percent) and even the largest oil companies like Rio Tinto (23 percent).

The ‘Facebook for Academics

The normal erudite edition marketplace is worth an estimated $25.2 billion USD any year, many of which is generated by publicly saved researchers who yield their work for free to publishers, having that work reviewed for free by their peers. Then, publishers spin around and sell any piece of investigate for around $40 a copy. In exchange, researchers get an additional line on their CV and a outing to the journal’s domicile to applaud contributing to the publisher’s immeasurable profits—I mean, humanity’s corpus of knowledge. This is a vast, global ecosystem that researchers fuel every day, and one that is undergoing utterly a state of shake at the moment as some-more researchers comprehend just how daft the whole thing is.

So because yield ResearchGate and Academia.edu differently? In her Forbes article, Bond states:

“Moving the papers divided from Academia.edu is then about holding possession of the work and determining what we do with it, rather than permitting a private company to use the extend for profit.”

This critique of Academia.edu is a bit odd, as the educational edition complement is accurately that: private companies making income by holding researchers’ work and then selling it.

One of Bond’s pivotal arguments is that in Dec 2016, Academia.edu suggested its premium feature choice business model. Going “premium” provides additional information to users such as who is reading their work, the reader’s educational role, geographic location, university affiliation, as good as the source directing them to your work. Bond argues that this promotes educational category politics and hierarchical stratification.

Additionally, Bond argues that the height can now collect and weigh information supposing by users, and presumably sell it. Again, it is not transparent how this differs from publishers that collect information formed on calm researchers plainly provide.

But by all means, if this concerns you as a researcher then undo your accounts. But you should substantially also then stop giving your investigate divided for free to private edition companies too. And undo your Facebook and Twitter accounts too, while you’re at it.

Two Sides to Every Coin

If anything, these information analytics on both platforms provides a profitable service to researchers. Both yield metrics on essay re-use that are useful for researchers in seeing how their work is being eaten by the community. ResearchGate even provides reference scores now too for researchers, identical to Google Scholar and other for-profit platforms like ScienceOpen. And all of them do this for free to users, stealing some of the mastery over reference metrics that Web of Science and Scopus, both reward and secretly owned services, used to have.

Richard Price, the CEO of Academia.edu, has even stated “The idea is to yield trending investigate information to RD institutions that can urge the peculiarity of their decisions by 10-20 percent.” That sounds flattering useful to me for a lot of opposite stakeholders, including researchers themselves.

So here’s the question: Why does it matter if they are making income from edition data? If someone sees an event in making large-scale assessments about erudite edition and investigate in general, isn’t that a good thing? One of the categorical reasons because we tell is so that other people can re-use the work. Publishers don’t compensate researchers for giving them their work, so it stays misleading to me again because this should be noticed as opposite for ResearchGate and Academia.edu. Except that these platforms seem to legitimately give something of value in return over a code name.

As such, Bond’s arguments aren’t quite convincing; they seem to omit the bigger picture of the enormously broken erudite edition system. Things have got so bad, that whole universities and countries are now holding a mount against the profiteering inlet of some publishers. Making income while improving the altogether complement of erudite communication is feasible, and zero of the arguments put brazen convince me that possibly height is in tangible dispute about this.

Dark Sharing vs. Open-Access

It’s no good secret that a immeasurable cube of the articles posted on both platforms are finished so illegally.

Many publishers need authors to send their rights in sequence to be published. While this use is in itself questionable, this does not legally clear the large-scale copyright transgression that is so apparent on both sites, irrespective of how useful it competence be to authors.

As a consequence, one of the biggest erudite publishers, Elsevier, sent 2,800 DMCA takedown requests of articles it published that were illegally hosted on Academia.edu. While this was a generally bad PR pierce for both Elsevier and Academia.edu, Elsevier were technically entirely within their rights to do so. An overarching problem here is that ResearchGate and Academia.edu are not accountable to anyone but their shareholders.

When questioned about illegal file hosting, they can simply call their hands and contend it has zero to do with them; instead, error lies with the choices of their members. In the meantime, they can both keep using this illegal calm to raise their information analytics, which is maybe some-more of an issue than what they then select to do with such data.

One can simply be fooled into meditative that this arrange of ‘dark sharing’ with ResearchGate and Academia.edu is a good concede for getting open-access edition right—it’s not. If anything, dim pity undermines open-access swell by providing a discerning by-pass that lacks the fortitude and government of a biography or repository system.

But at the finish of the day, even open-access is being used as a way for publishers to make additional income from your work. While around 70 percent of journals indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals do not charge to publish, the infancy of immeasurable publishers mostly charge in additional of $3,000 to publish.

Posting to Academia.edu is no some-more formidable than plainly posting to an institutional repository, nonetheless with allegedly some-more than 47 million members at Academia.edu, edition there is appealing. Academics precariously use it as a veteran promotion tool, and in an educational sourroundings where self-centredness and self-marketing is rewarded some-more than sharing, it is easy to maybe see because one is some-more renouned than the other.

All Is Not Lost

There are many institutional repositories out there that have one job: make researchers’ work open-access in a demeanour that is agreeable with appropriation mandates and publisher policies.

There are a horde of other subject-specific or cross-disciplinary repositories too. These embody Zenodo, a non-profit and saved by OpenAIRE, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN or the arXiv, which has been hosting articles given 1991. Ethan Gruber has even recently launched a apparatus that transfers all of your calm between Academia.edu and Zenodo, for those interested.

For me, we deleted both of my accounts by excess as we was just not seeing the value in them. we have already done all of my research plainly permitted by my institutional repository at Imperial College, as required, or permitted at open-access journals.

Being in a position where you can undo ResearchGate and Academia.edu accounts is actually a position of educational privilege, and revelation other authors to do so could be careless of their position and status.

So we consider a lot of the angst towards Academia.edu and ResearchGate competence be better placed elsewhere. We have an whole erudite edition complement that is mostly fueled by taxpayer money, but governed and compelled by private interests, and that should be something of much deeper concern. ResearchGate and Academia.edu are tiny fish in this immeasurable sea of profit-seeking.

The genuine doubt is what do we do when private interests actually start to meddle with those of the public, as many erudite publishers actively do by prohibiting entrance to investigate – indeed, this is how they make their money. we don’t see Academia.edu and ResearchGate doing that, or at slightest not to an border that is larger than any other for-profit company concerned in erudite publishing.

If you wish to actually do something useful, select open-access, and share your investigate distant and wide. Just don’t close it up.


Author note: Thanks to Lisa Matthias and Penny Andrews for discussions on this topic.

  • Researchers are ruled by business managers (grant funding). Managers have no spreadsheet dungeon for “quality.” Managers review integers, “publications.” The whole complement is bass-ackwards. Young expertise with ideas are starved, tenured expertise with reputations are glutted, and egotistic charlatans at all levels and services are fêted.

    Undergrad takes your money, grad takes your labor, post-doc takes your soul, partner prof takes your life. When zero useful stays of you, get down to business.

  • The Open Science Framework (OSF) provides free and open source plan government support for researchers opposite the whole investigate lifecycle. As a stretchable repository, researchers can store and repository their investigate data, protocols, and materials. As a partnership tool, researchers can work on projects secretly with a singular series of collaborators and make tools of their projects public, or make all the plan publicly permitted for broader dissemination. As a workflow system, researchers can bond the many services they use to streamline their routine and boost efficiency. Worth a look!

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