Under a new agreement, the networking site will share which content it is hosting from three publishers

ResearchGate, which allows scientists to share papers and connect with potential collaborators, has reached an agreement with three publishers to resolve differences over article sharing. As part of the arrangement with Springer Nature, Cambridge University Press and Thieme announced on 19 April, ResearchGate says it will ‘continue to promptly remove copyright-infringing content when alerted by publishers’.

The publishers will now have a better idea of when and where their material is shared, but they will not be able to pre-emptively block or filter research that scientists upload to the network, according to ResearchGate. The site has about 15 million users.

Not everyone is enthusiastic, including two big publishers that are not part of the new agreement – the American Chemical Society (ACS) and Elsevier. They have sued ResearchGate for copyright infringements in a court case that started on 18 April in Germany.

Jim Milne with the Coalition for Responsible Sharing (CRS), a group of five science publishers including the ACS and Elsevier, said ResearchGate has rejected all collaborative efforts it has put forward. He emphasised the coalition’s position that no copyright-infringing content should go on ResearchGate’s site in the first place. ‘The availability and subsequent removal of unauthorised content is unsustainable and disruptive to researchers who need a simple system that automatically provides clarity on how widely research can be shared,’ Milne said.

In November 2017, ResearchGate responded to publisher concerns that the networking site may be illegally publishing copyrighted material online by relocating 1.7 million journal articles from CRS members so that they were no longer publicly accessible.