Discussing your research on academic social networking sites, and on social media more broadly, has some value. Engaging with others online about your research can spark interesting conversations, future collaborations, and allow a broader audience to have access to your work. You can read more about the benefits of this, and how to capture such impact, on our Altmetrics Guide.
Two common academic networking and file sharing sites are ResearchGate and Academia.edu. It is important to remember that an academic social networking site is not a repository. Uploading published work to these sites does not fulfil your institutional or funder obligations and will likely breach publisher policies and your signed publishing agreement (see below).
|Research Gate||Academia.edu||Institutional Repository (e.g. Minerva Access)|
|Checks publisher policies for you, managing embargo periods as required||No||No||Yes|
|Supports export or harvesting||No||No||Yes|
|Sends you lots of emails (by default)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Wants access to your address and contact books||Yes||Yes||No|
|Depositing fulfils the expectations of the Principles for Open Access to Research Outputs at Melbourne||No||No||Yes|
|Depositing fulfils ARC and NHMRC open access policy requirements||No||No||Yes|
|Business model||Commercial (sells data, job postings, premium tiers, etc.)||Commercial (sells data, job postings, premium tiers, etc.)||University supported|
Tabled adapted from University of California (OSC), "A social networking site is not an open access repository," under CC BY.
Before uploading any files to an academic networking site (or any other website), you must check the publisher's sharing policies. In general:
Publishers are becoming more restrictive in what researchers can share on academic social networking sites. For example, large publishers such as Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley restrict sharing on commercial websites that have not signed up to the STM Sharing Principles. Currently, ResearchGate and Academia.edu have not signed up to these principles, so in most cases you can only upload preprints (submitted manuscripts that have not been peer reviewed). Springer Nature, however, permits their SharedIt links, which grant free access to an article, to be shared on these sites.
We encourage our researchers to deposit their AAMs to our institutional repository, Minerva Access. Content in Minerva Access is indexed by Google, Google Scholar, and other databases, and PDFs are made available on your Find an Expert profile. Most importantly, our staff check all publisher permissions to ensure your work is shared in line with your publishing agreement.
For more information on Research Gate, Academia.edu, other author profiles and how to set these up, visit our Researcher Profiles, Identifiers and Social Networks Guide.
You should always check publishers' sharing policies before sharing your work on academic networking sites. You can usually find these policies on publishers' websites, in your signed publishing agreement, or using services like Sherpa Romeo or How Can I Share It.
Unlike depositing to Minerva Access, where repository staff ensure compliance with publisher policies and apply any required embargoes, when you share your research on an academic networking site you must do these checks yourself. Failure to check your publisher policies could result in a breach of copyright, or of your signed publishing agreement
A useful tool in finding a journal's embargo period is Sherpa Romeo. Sherpa Romeo is a database of journals' deposit policies (that is, their open access sharing policies) that can be searched by journal title, ISSN, or publisher. The Sherpa Romeo help pages contain videos demonstrating how to use the website and understand its terminology.
A journal's record in Sherpa Romeo will list its policies for sharing the submitted manuscript, Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM), and published version. The icons indicate whether costs are involved, what embargo period (if any) applies, if a Creative Commons license shoudl be used, and where the output can be shared. If you want to share on an academic networking site, you must confirm which versions can be shared on an academic social network.