Gavia Libraria

ResearchGate, we hardly knew ye

Calling ResearchGate “the Napster of research papers” strikes the Loon as uncannily correct. Napster went down swinging because it was a single Big Red Target for the copyright-enforcement establishment. Its immediate successors in infringement—Gnutella and other peer-to-peer technologies, culminating in torrenting—survived in inverse correlation to their Big Red Target-ness.

In analogy form, Napster:Gnutella::ResearchGate:Sci-Hub. The Loon very much believes that ResearchGate is the victim of publishers’ displaced ire at the more difficult target.

Though the exact form of its demise is an open question, ResearchGate is likely through. They haven’t a legal leg to stand on, in the Loon’s non-lawyerly estimation, and (as any institutional-repository manager can explain) as soon as its content posters hear that they can’t post any old PDF just because it has their name on it, they will drop ResearchGate without looking back. If ResearchGate is truly unlucky, its content posters will additionally turn on it for removing their content or even endangering them (though this outcome is evitable with adroit public relations).

Will any big pigs suffer for destroying ResearchGate? Probably not. First, they used their classic responsibility-diffusion tactic of building a collective patsy to take the public-relations hit. (Any time a big-pig publisher trade organization suddenly erupts from nowhere, expect chicanery; this has been true at least since the PRISM Coalition and doubtless before.) Second, ResearchGate has clearly decided for placation and against a blame-the-vendor approach. The Loon cannot fathom why, but she supposes birdbrained lack of strategy is not the only possible explanation; there may be business or legal reasons she wot not of.

The Loon won’t miss ResearchGate; as a former institutional repository manager, she was repelled by their incessant spamming, their incessant privacy violations, and their laissez-faire attitude to copyright, and no little furious that their approach worked when all her and her fellows’ more legal and ethical efforts did not. She stops just short of “good riddance,” but she is entirely on board with “don’t let the door hit you, pond scum.”

2 thoughts on “ResearchGate, we hardly knew ye

  1. Björn Brembs

    Been arguing for a while now that we should be using the tried-and-tested “responsibility-diffusion tactic” to conjoin our repositories and post everything we possible can. After all, we are >10000 institutions (unis + others):
    No takers, though…

  2. Pingback: « Nous n’avons pas d’autre choix » : les éditeurs, ResearchGate et les guerres du copyright | UrfistInfo