Have you uploaded your papers on Academia.edu?

  • Academia.edu has responded to thousands of takedown notices from Elsevier. It’s time to ensure the papers on your profile aren’t next in the firing line.

Before Christmas you may have seen the alarmist media about academics in the US and UK being threatened with takedown notices and potential penalties for copyright infringement. Academics were uploading copies of their published papers to Academia.edu, an academic networking site that claims to hold about six million profiles. Elsevier, a major publisher, scanned the site for infringing copies of their journal articles. The firm then sent takedown notices to Academia.edu who contacted the academic authors. Elsevier were fully within their rights to do so.

It’s only a matter of time before Elsevier, and potentially other publishers, scan the works uploaded to Academia.edu by Australian academics. So let’s get on the front foot now and check to ensure there are no nasty surprises for you.

Does this affect me?

There are many benefits to participating in online academic sites and also to sharing your papers, but you need to share the right version of your papers. If you have an Academia.edu profile, you need to review all works there to ensure they are copyright compliant. You’ll notice that Academia.edu has automatically harvested your published papers from an open access institutional repository, such as Griffith Research Online (GRO). These are perfectly fine and need no action. However, if you have uploaded published versions then they may infringe copyright and you’ll need to investigate further.

How do I know if it’s a published version?

The definitive published version is already formatted, copy edited and corrected after review and it usually has the journal branding, volume, issue and pagination or article number. Published versions may say in the header and on each page ‘This article was downloaded by [Griffith University]’ with a date stamp too. For example:

Example of Published Version

If you think your publisher allows the published version to be made available (for example, if you paid to enable open access to it), clarify it by searching the journal title in Sherpa Romeo. This site will tell you if the publisher does allow the published version to be made available. It will also tell you if the publisher allows another version of your paper to be made available. For example, Sherpa Romeo shows that the journal ‘Applied Nursing Research’ allows you to put the version of the paper submitted for publishing after peer review into GRO (see the image below). Academia.edu will then automatically harvest it to your profile from GRO. By uploading a postprint you’re making exactly the same content available, without the publisher formatting.

Applied Nursing Research journal on Sherpa Romeo

Alternatively, if you’re still in doubt about the correct version to put up, just link to the full record in GRO using its handle, (e.g. http://hdl.handle.net/10072/54013) which is a permanent identifier for it.  The GRO Team complies with the publisher’s copyright policy so you don’t have to worry about it.

If you need more information or you’re still unsure, help is available:

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