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University of Groningen LibraryOpen AccessPolicy UG on 'Green open access'

Go green: be open

Go green: be open
Go green: be open

Social networks are useful for researchers, no doubt about that. But only the University’s research database Pure is certain to have your interests in mind: guaranteed, sustainable and trusted access to your publications without commercialization of your work.

Want to ensure your publications are safely stored on a trusted and open platform?

Go green open access: Deposit your publications in the University’s research database Pure and make them freely accessible. The University of Groningen Library and the Central Medical Library handle all copyright and licensing issues for you.

Commercial academic social networks, such as ResearchGate, or the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) are useful tools for academics to connect with peers, to receive updates on their colleagues’ research interests and activities and – most importantly – to share publications with a larger audience.

It is a common assumption that sharing research results is basically just another form of open access. However, posting your publications on these social networks “is far from being ethically and politically equivalent to using an institutional open access repository” (Hall, 2015b). Only genuine open access repositories – such as the University’s research database Pure – are committed to ensure equal access to scholarly works without limitations.

But what exactly is the difference between commercial academic networks and an institutional open access repository? And why should you use the University’s repository Pure instead of – or at least complementary – to commercial academic networks?

Commercial academic networks are guided by profit, not by the interests of researchers

Commercial academic networks use the work of publicly funded academics to build their privately-owned for-profit platforms. As commercial enterprises, they necessarily aim at a monetization strategy that often involves selling information about scholars (or other users) to other entities, restricting access or charging for premium features.

By participating in such networks, academics essentially perform unpaid work for corporations, often lose control over their data and enable the sale of metrics that they might later not agree with.

Institutional open-access repositories, by contrast, are run by universities and are thus subject to the self-governance of the academic community and not bound to profit imperatives. They are governed by the strict data protection laws and academic integrity standards of scholars' home universities [LINK RUG-WEBSITE?]. They are committed to the promotion of research and the enlargement of scientific information as a common good.

Commercial academic networks control access and gate-keep publicly available information

Commercial academic networks often require you to register and to agree to their terms and conditions before you are allowed to download publications that academics provide to them. It is often overlooked that much of the content that is stored in these networks is already freely accessible without restrictions. Through the market dominance of such platforms, access to the content is controlled by powerful companies in order “to capture, analyse and exploit extremely large amounts of data”. (Hall, 2015a) To them, gate-keeping access to information is more important than content itself (Hall, 2015a).

The University’s research database Pure does not require users to log in to access publications written by UG or UMCG staff and has no commercial interest in monetizing the data of its users.

The terms and conditions of commercial social networks often do not permit users to take their own data and reuse it elsewhere, nor do they facilitate libraries in extracting that data on the authors’ behalf. In other words, they benefit from the scientific commons but do not give back.

Commercial academic networks are not sustainable archives

Genuine open access repositories are usually managed by universities or other non-profit institutions. Their repositories are designed to be available in the long term. The primary aim of UG’s Pure is to make the scholarly output as widely available as possible and to ensure its long-term archival. Our specialists ensure archiving the data in a sustainable manner.

In contrast, commercial companies must be expected to offer content only as long as it fits their business aims. Commercial academic networks can close down at any time or be taken over by other for-profit cooperations (Elsevier’s acquisition of SSRN) , and they often reject any duty to warn their users before they shut down and delete all content.

Commercial academic networks are not acknowledged as “trusted platforms” by funding agencies

Institutions increasingly require their scholars to store their output in such repositories as only these data are relevant for the evaluation of their researchers. Additionally, many funders, such as the NWO or the European Union require that publications and data are made available in so-called trusted open access data repositories: "NWO considers all repositories included in the Directory of Open Access Repositories [OpenDOAR ]to be ‘trusted repositories’." The research database Pure is listed in the OpenDOAR fulfilling this requirement.

What can you as a researcher do?

  • Always first upload your publications to Pure. The University of Groningen Library and the Central Medical Library handle all copyright and licensing issues for you.
    Only in Pure, your publications are maximally accessible and constitute an unencumbered contribution to the scientific commons.
  • Use commercial academic networks only as a secondary publication platform.
  • Consider adding a notice to any publication you upload to a commercial academic network informing users that they can download it at Pure without having to register.
  • When commercial academic networks ask for your input (for example, to rank papers or edit categories), ask whether they will share the profit they derive from your work and whether you will retain your rights in the information you generate by your activities.
  • Check all terms and conditions of commercial academic networks carefully before joining and uploading papers to make sure you do not sign away any essential rights in your scholarship.

More information

Last modified:21 December 2018 11.31 a.m.
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