Sharing your work online without breaching copyright: or how I learned to stop worrying and use ResearchGate correctly

Academics often like to make their published work as accessible to readers as possible, which is great. Unfortunately, they are often not aware if they are breaching copyright with their publisher, which isn’t great. Hopefully in this post I can give you some information about the questions you need to ask, the resources you can use, and how to best disseminate your research without infringing on any contracts you may have with publishers.

Definition of terms

Pre-peer review version: The version before revisions arising from peer review are made (sometimes called the pre-print) and still in the format you originally submitted to the publisher.

Post-peer review version: The version of your work after peer review, but still in the format originally accepted by the publisher (most commonly a word.doc), except with added revisions (sometimes called the post-print).

Publisher version: the published version of your work that has been stylised per publisher guidelines and is available through physical copy or on their website. Usually, the publisher owns copyright of this work.

Please visit Sherpa/Romeo (details below) for copyright details for specific publishers or contact UNE’s Researcher Services Librarians.


How copyright is often breached

With most publishing models authors cede copyright of the publisher version of their publication to their publisher. This means that when an author shares a publisher version online instead of, for example, linking to the publisher version on the publisher’s website, they have breached their copyright. It is important to know which version of your publication you have ownership over (see definition of terms, above) and when and where you are allowed to publicly share your publications.

If you publish Open Access you maintain copyright of your work and are able to upload your publication online when and where you wish.


How to share publications online (the legal way)

ResearchGate is a very popular publication sharing platform. Put simply, you are unable to upload a publisher version of your work onto ResearchGate (or any other sharing platform). To avoid breaching copyright, you can upload a pre-peer review version at any time, a post-peer review version after the embargo period has ended, or information about a publisher version (title, abstract) and either link to the publisher’s website or ask people to contact you directly.

This applies for several other sharing platforms such as, Mendeley, ArXiv, and personal websites.

How can I share it? advises on what you can share, how you can share it, and where you can share it. If you have a publication you can enter in the DOI (digital object identifier), select if you are an author on the publication or not, and be given a list of what you can share and where.

If you are looking to publish and want to know more about sharing policies there are a number of publisher sharing policies listed and information on worldwide voluntary principles.

How can I share it? also has information on a number of scholarly collaboration networks (SCNs) that may be suitable for you to upload your publication to. These include figshare, LabArchive, and the Center for Open Science.


It is a requirement that all publications from UNE students and staff be stored in UNE’s Repository. Upon publication you will be asked to provide metadata, the publisher version for the dark archive (this is not made public), and a pre-peer review or post-peer review version of the output to make it open access (if applicable).


Other resources

Please contact UNE Library ( if you have any questions.

UNE’s Copyright page

Sherpa/Romeo– a database of publisher copyright and self-archiving policies

A social networking site is not an open access repository

Getting it right: Disseminating research in the world of open access publishing, academic social networks and institutional repositories’: Panel discussion + Q&A Webinar

Publishers escalate legal battle against ResearchGate (HigherEd, October 2018)


-Eleanor Colla, Researcher Services Librarian, UNE

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