May 26, 2022

Research Article: “Institutional Repositories and Academic Social Networks: Competition or Complement? A Study of Open Access Policy Compliance vs. ResearchGate Participation”

The following article was recently published by the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication (JLSC).


Institutional Repositories and Academic Social Networks: Competition or Complement? A Study of Open Access Policy Compliance vs. ResearchGate Participation 


Julia A. Lovett
University of Rhode Island

Andrée J. Rathemacher
University of Rhode Island

Divana Boukari
University of Rhode Island

Corey Lang
University of Rhode Island


Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication
5(1); 2017
DOI: 10.7710/2162-3309.2183


INTRODUCTION The popularity of academic social networks like ResearchGate and indicates that scholars want to share their work, yet for universities with Open Access (OA) policies, these sites may be competing with institutional repositories (IRs) for content. This article seeks to reveal researcher practices, attitudes, and motivations around uploading their work to ResearchGate and complying with an institutional OA Policy through a study of faculty at the University of Rhode Island (URI).

METHODS We conducted a population study to examine the participation by 558 full-time URI faculty members in the OA Policy and ResearchGate followed by a survey of 728 full-time URI faculty members about their participation in the two services.

DISCUSSION The majority of URI faculty does not participate in the OA Policy or use ResearchGate. Authors’ primary motivations for participation are sharing their work more broadly and increasing its visibility and impact. Faculty who participate in ResearchGate are more likely to participate in the OA Policy, and vice versa. The fact that the OA Policy targets the author manuscript and not the final published article constitutes a significant barrier to participation.

CONCLUSION Librarians should not view academic social networks as a threat to Open Access. Authors’ strong preference for sharing the final, published version of their articles provides support for calls to hasten the transition to a Gold OA publishing system. Misunderstandings about the OA Policy and copyright indicate a need for librarians to conduct greater education and outreach to authors about options for legally sharing articles.

Direct to Full Text Article
36 pages; PDF

See Also:  Conference Presentation: “Deposit in Local IR v. Deposit in ResearchGate”
Slides from a July 2017 presentation by two co-authors of JLSC article.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.