Copyright compliance and infringement in ResearchGate full-text journal articles
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ResearchGate is increasingly used by scholars to upload the full-text of their articles and make them freely available for everyone. This study aims to investigate the extent to which ResearchGate members as authors of journal articles comply with publishers’ copyright policies when they self-archive full-text of their articles on ResearchGate. A random sample of 500 English journal articles available as full-text on ResearchGate were investigated. 108 articles (21.6%) were open access (OA) published in OA journals or hybrid journals. Of the remaining 392 articles, 61 (15.6%) were preprint, 24 (6.1%) were post-print and 307 (78.3%) were published (publisher) PDF. The key finding was that 201 (51.3%) out of 392 non-OA articles infringed the copyright and were non-compliant with publishers’ policy. While 88.3% of journals allowed some form of self-archiving (SHERPA/RoMEO green, blue or yellow journals), the majority of non-compliant cases (97.5%) occurred when authors self-archived publishers’ PDF files (final published version). This indicates that authors infringe copyright most of the time not because they are not allowed to self-archive, but because they use the wrong version, which might imply their lack of understanding of copyright policies and/or complexity and diversity of policies.