Sharing through ScholarCommons: UofSC’s Institutional Repository

By Brent Appling

Our last post covered recent issues associated with sharing research on popular scholarly networking sites, but there are other options out there for USC researchers who want to make their work freely available.

ScholarCommons is the institutional repository (IR) for the University of South Carolina, and it supports archiving and distribution of work that is copyright free or has the approval of the copyright holder. This can include works-in-progress, copies of published articles, book chapters, and conference papers. The repository also houses student work such as presentations, dissertations, master’s theses, and undergraduate honors theses. ScholarCommons is unique not only because it contains the work of USC affiliates, but also because it hosts several journals that are published or managed by USC faculty, such as Studies in Scottish Literature, a leading publication in its field.

Managed by University Libraries, ScholarCommons is an essential tool that can exponentially expand the global visibility of the university’s scholarly output. Take a look at the readership map for a visual representation of how often, and from where, the work in the repository is being accessed. The IR platform is powered by Digital Commons, which provides a network of institutional repositories and has quickly become a standard service for many colleges and universities. This means items in ScholarCommons are discoverable by any other institution that utilizes the Digital Commons network, and vice versa.

Submitting your work to ScholarCommons is quick and simple: create an account and follow the prompts to upload your materials. Make sure your author agreement allows archiving in an IR; you can use SHERPA/RoMEO to check general publisher policies. To supplement the text of articles, you can include sound and video files, data sets, and executable files. Within ScholarCommons, you can choose to have your work listed in a discipline-specific collection. Additionally, uploaded items are indexed by Google and Google Scholar, making them discoverable on the open web.

Questions about how you can increase the reach of your work by archiving it in ScholarCommons? Please contact


ResearchGate v. The Coalition on Responsible Sharing

By Kathy Snediker

There’s been a lot in the news lately about major publishers threatening take-down notices and litigation against the scholarly collaboration network ResearchGate. The situation has yet to fully play out, but here’s where we are now.

Over the past several years, it has become increasingly common for researchers to share their published papers online, particularly on popular scholarly networking sites like and ResearchGate, whether or not they have the legal right under copyright law and/or the author agreement they signed with the publisher. The sites take the stance that while they explicitly ask users to comply with copyright law, they aren’t responsible for enforcement.

Not surprisingly, most publishers object to the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted articles and have tried different methods for addressing the practice, including allowing authors to “self-archive” submitted versions (as opposed to the final published version – see Springer, Wiley, Elsevier examples.) They’ve also used legal actions, like in late 2013 when Elsevier sent thousands of takedown notices to and other sites including universities. Yet unauthorized online sharing proliferated.

So what’s the latest? Publishers, claiming they have tried unsuccessfully to negotiate solutions directly with ResearchGate, have formed a Coalition on Responsible Sharing to take action against the site, including threatening a massive number of take-down notices. Also Elsevier and the American Chemical Society have filed a lawsuit against the company in Germany where ResearchGate is based. It appears that ResearchGate may have given in to the pressure and started removing copyrighted articles, though the company has not made a formal public announcement about it.

There is certainly a lot of debate over whether researchers should have the right to share their own papers freely wherever they choose, regardless of publishers’ views, but as of now that’s not a legal reality. Though in many cases, the difference between legal and illegal behavior can be simply posting a pre-print or post-print version instead of the final version, or adhering to the embargo period set by the publisher.