Copyright infringement on ResearchGate

Many researchers are aware of ResearchGate, a social networking site for researchers. ResearchGate allows researchers to chat, ask and answer questions, and upload full text versions of their work.

Shockingly, a recent study has found that a huge proportion of the papers uploaded to the site infringe copyright. In a random sample of 500 English language articles, 108 were open access (published in an open access journal or had an article processing charge paid to make the published version of the article open access). Of the remaining 392 articles 51.3% infringed copyright and were non-compliant with publisher policy.


The study, available to read (in compliance with copyright law!) on ResearchGate,* found that in the majority of these copyright infringement cases (97.5%) the published version of the article had been uploaded where it was not allowed to be. The remaining copyright infringement cases were due to not observing embargo periods, or archiving a version of the article that was not allowed to be archived (in some cases no version was ever permitted to be uploaded to a repository.)

According to the study, 88.3% of journals allow some form of self-archiving – so many of these authors knew that they were allowed to put a version of their paper up on ResearchGate, just not which version. This could cause serious problems for researchers and ResearchGate if publishers notice and start issuing mass takedown notices.

Before you next upload a paper to ResearchGate, stop and think. Do you have all the information you need?

  • Check Sherpa-RoMEO for self-archiving information for your journal.
  • Ensure you are uploading the correct version of the article and have observed any embargo dates and included any required statements.
  • Not uploading a journal article? Ask the publisher what their policy is (this may be available on their website.)
  • Upload it to the Research Repository first!
  • Any questions? Feel free to contact the Research Support Team. It’s why we’re here.

Remember: Everything uploaded to the Research Repository is checked against publisher archiving policies by repository staff before it is made live and publicly visible. ResearchGate has no such feature. It is all down to you, the uploader.

*Jamali, H. R. (2017) Copyright compliance and infringment in ResearchGate full-text journal articles. Scientometrics. pp. 1-14. Available from:

(At the time of writing this article was in Online First status and had not been assigned to a journal volume/issue)

Image: “Eminem Sues NZ Political Party For Copyright Infringement” by studio tdes is licensed under CC BY 2.0


One thought on “Copyright infringement on ResearchGate

  1. […] In September 2017, ResearchGate was issued with a request to alter its article sharing system, asking for the implementation of an automated system which would address copyright concerns (we have previously discussed the potential copyright infringement on ResearchGate on this blog.) […]


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