The communication and exchange of scholarly research is evolving very rapidly There are now at least 40 scholarly collaboration networks (SCNs – also known as social sharing networks, SSNs) offering services to researchers, including private and public networking and sharing. Millions of researchers use networks like ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Mendeley to communicate with each other, to build online profiles, and to exchange scholarly information.
On February 9, 2015, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) launched a public consultation on article sharing in scholarly collaboration networks, focusing on the sharing of research articles in private groups. The consultation, which closes on April 10, invites responses from stakeholders across the scholarly community, including researchers, societies, libraries, publishers, and SCN providers. To help facilitate the consultation, an STM taskforce has developed a set of draft Principles, which set out some core thinking about a common position on the issue. The Principles will be developed to take into account feedback from the consultation.
At the heart of the Principles is the belief that research is, and always has been, collaborative. The ability to share research and data in online research groups, which are increasingly international and interdisciplinary, is exciting and powerful. Publishers are committed to the development of internet tools and technology, including scholarly collaboration networks, to facilitate the discovery and dissemination of scholarly research articles published by them. However, the Principles also note that, although online sharing has grown very rapidly, it is still far from a seamless experience. To operate optimally, the sharing experience needs to be consistent and frictionless, with much greater legal certainty about what can and can’t be done with copyright materials.
In order to help overcome these challenges, the Principles therefore propose that sharing of journal articles should be permitted in private academic groups, which would be by invitation only, and of a size consistent with a typical research group in the applicable discipline. Researchers would be able to share published research freely for the research purpose of the group only. At the same time, publishers and libraries should be able to collect data on usage of published articles in such private collaborations, in order to understand and optimize the sharing environment. Work should also be undertaken to develop common standards and to integrate access and usage information into research workflows.
Wiley participated in the task force and is a signatory to the Principles, which we fully support. We are also very supportive of the open consultation process and the opportunity it provides to build consensus on the benefits of an industry-wide approach to article sharing. We encourage our society partners, library customers, and authors to read the draft Principles and hope that many of you will also respond to the consultation
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