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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 do 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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Data_Files_Readme.txt (3 kB)
Table of contents / guide to all included data files

Population_study_raw_data_anonymized.csv (31 kB)
CSV file of the population study results

Survey_questions.pdf (110 kB)
PDF file from SurveyMonkey of questions asked and possible responses

Survey_all_summary.pdf (180 kB)
PDF file from SurveyMonkey of responses; see Readme first

Survey_full_responses_coded.csv (63 kB)
CSV file of the complete responses to the survey from each of the 135 respondents, coded

Survey_full_responses_codebook.txt (13 kB)
TXT file to accompany Survey_full_responses_coded.csv

Q2_&_Q12_coded.txt (1 kB)
TXT file indicating which of the answer choices for Questions 2 and 12 are true and false

Survey_statistical_analysis.R (4 kB)
R script file quantifying certain survey questions to which multiple linear regression models were applied