Despite Growth, Scientific Networking Sites Are Likely to Complement, Not Replace Open Access Repositories
increasingly important for scientists, questions about the implications
that the business models of scholarly networking sites have persist,
while leaving institutional repositories and Open Access publishers with
a significant role to play in knowledge sharing.
A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.
As scholars become increasingly concerned with the visibility and
view counts that their scientific articles generate, social networking
platforms have been slated to become the primary venues for the
dissemination and sharing of scientific knowledge. However, as Jessica
Leigh Brown implies, as these scholarly social networking sites, such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu,
have sought to achieve both economic sustainability and reputation
within different scientific communities, Open Access institutional
repositories run by universities and institutes are likely to continue
to be important for ensuring content availability in the long term.
In other words, either as open source projects, e.g., Zotero, or startup initiatives, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Mendeley,
these scholarly networks depend on either non-profit, donation-based or
private funding, which can either limit their scope or involve the
privatization of digital commons with possible non-positive responses in
the scientific communities. For instance, ResearchGate has had to
demonstrate swift reaction
to copyright infringement allegations from large journal publishers,
Academia.edu has not met with an enthusiastic response from scholars to
its attempts to introduce paid-for services and Mendeley, upon its
purchase by Elsevier in 2013, has raised concerns that its content
sharing practices might deviate from the principles of Open Access.
Even though social networking sites have been expected to further
promote the scientific communication and even provide alternatives to
the traditional publishing models, as Cornelius Puschmann has argued in 2013, despite their limited proliferation and growth performance,
such as in the case of ResearchGate, their eventual effect on the
journal publishing industry has not necessarily proved to be significant
or disruptive. While both specialized science-oriented and
general-purpose social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, can
facilitate communication with colleagues, research promotion and
information dissemination locally and internationally, the effects of
the underlying business models that these platforms have are not
necessarily supportive of Open Access, due to their not infrequent
profit orientation. As David Grotty has stressed,
the practices of private social networking sites, such as user behavior
tracking, are likely to affect scholarly communication the implications
of which only begin to be fully comprehended for both content sharing
and scholarly networking, as large publishers either purchase or sue
science-related social networks.
By contrast, Open Access article and book publishers and repositories
are generally not expected to generate revenues off digital content
circulation, have transparent cost structures and can provide long-term
access to materials they store. This cannot be said of private social
networking companies that are exposed to market forces and legal
consequences of insufficiently protecting intellectual property rights.
Thus, both Open Access journal publishers and institutional
repositories are likely to play complementary roles in scientific
communication and networking in the future.
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: Group on Earth Observations Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, January 14, 2014 | © Courtesy of United States Mission Geneva.
Despite Growth, Scientific Networking Sites Are Likely to Complement, Not Replace Open Access Repositories | Open Science