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Nature Physics is one of 23 Springer Nature journals involved in a pilot scheme to make published papers readily available via ResearchGate.

There’s no doubt about it, this is an era for creative thinking in the world of scientific publishing. The push for open science has forced publishers to rethink existing models and to look for new ways to disseminate research. The latest chapter in this story involves a partnership between Springer Nature and social-media platform ResearchGate (https://www.researchgate.net), which will make future Nature Physics articles — and some of our back-catalogue — available to view and download without a subscription.

ResearchGate was founded in 2008 by scientists Ijad Madisch, Sören Hofmayer and Horst Fickenscher. Based in Berlin, the platform boasts a global network comprising more than 15 million scientists who participate by uploading their research output — primarily papers — and populating their profiles. The goal of the platform is to facilitate collaboration between users and to make research open to all, so although creating a user account requires affiliation with a recognized institution, anyone can consult the platform and read its content.

In the campaign for transparency, there will inevitably be a few ruffled feathers. In September 2017, the International Association of Scientific Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) contacted ResearchGate to express concern over their article-sharing practices. Five publishers subsequently formed a coalition for ‘responsible sharing’ (https://www.responsiblesharing.org/), which issued takedown requests. Coalition members Elsevier and the American Chemical Society later filed lawsuits in Germany and the US.

Other publishers chose a different route. In April 2018, Cambridge University Press, Thieme and Springer Nature formed an agreement with ResearchGate, expressing a commitment to find a way of sharing scientific articles without compromising the rights of publishers and authors1. The new partnership between Springer Nature and ResearchGate forms the next — seemingly logical, if bold — step in this direction. Currently pitched as a three-month pilot scheme beginning 1 March 2019, the initiative makes articles from 23 different subscription-based Nature journals accessible, including those from Nature and Nature Physics, dating back to November 20172.

In practice, the work will be done behind the scenes. The final published versions of Nature Physics articles will be directly uploaded to our authors’ ResearchGate profiles, although whether or not they remain there will be the author’s prerogative.

It goes without saying that we’re excited to be taking part in this scheme, which we see as an excellent complement to the SharedIt initiative, allowing anyone with a subscription to generate links to free readable versions of our papers. We would encourage all our authors to spread the news about both options to give their papers the widest possible audience.

References

  1. 1.

    Bengsch, D. ResearchGate welcomes cooperation agreement with three major scientific publishers. https://go.nature.com/2TJIuVn (ResearchGate, 19 April 2018).

  2. 2.

    ResearchGate and Springer Nature embark on pilot to deliver seamless discovery and an enhanced reading experience. https://go.nature.com/2JuvNJg (Springer Nature, 1 March 2019).

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We like to share. Nat. Phys. 15, 303 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-019-0503-y

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