Authors want to promote work via PDF sharing sites without contravening copyright
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What is it about?
PDF-based profile sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu have become extremely popular with researchers both as a way of finding / accessing relevant publications, and as a way of creating a profile for your own work. These sites require you to upload a PDF for each work that you want to list and publishers have begun to clamp down on copyright infringement where such PDFs are shared in contravention of authors' publishing agreements. We did a study that showed that although the scale of sharing by authors has grown substantially, they do still value copyright and aren't necessarily trying to undermine it. They simply want to be able to have a presence in sites where the only way to do that is to upload a PDF. We therefore trialled a service that would enable authors to create a "shareable PDF" that would enable them include their work in their profile without contravening their copyright agreement. These "shareable PDFs" also add value by including additional information about the work, and by making it easier for authors to track readership of their work (by consolidating all readership in one place) and to compare different sharing channels on a like-for-like basis.
Why is it important?
This article describes the outcomes of a trial of "shareable PDFs". Over 500 authors created a shareable PDF during the trial (the most up to date figures now show that almost 1,500 authors have done this, with over 2,000 PDFs created). Given the short time frame of the trial, and the limited number of publishers / articles for which this is currently available, that is a strong indication that authors welcome alternatives that help them to share enhanced versions of their work, in ways that enable them to better evaluate both the performance of their work, and the effectiveness of their dissemination choices.
The following have contributed to this page: Charlie Rapple (Kudos)