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Nature declares content-sharing initiative a success

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Nature Publishing Group has announced the results of its 12-month content sharing initiative to support collaborative research. The organisation says the trial has concluded with positive results and the initiative to offer on-platform sharing of the full text of nature.com articles using ReadCube’s enhanced PDF technology will continue indefinitely. 

In December 2014, a 12-month content sharing trial was set up to enable subscribers to 49 journals on nature.com to legitimately and conveniently share the full text of articles of interest with colleagues without a subscription via a shareable web link on nature.com, enabled by publishing technology company, ReadCube.

The trial was also extended to 100 media outlets and blogs around the world that report on the findings of articles published on nature.com, allowing them to provide their own readers with a link to a full text, read-only view of the original scientific paper.

The key findings were:

  • The most popular method of sharing of scientific articles has been via the media and blogger referral programme, which gave readers of articles free, read-only access to the full text of scientific articles in news stories and posts;
  • High-profile media reports of Nature journal articles from a plethora of international media outlets drove the most traffic of the trial. The most popular article of 2015 was, “A new antibiotic kills pathogens without detectable resistance” published in Nature in January 2015;
  • In order, the most popular news outlets were: the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, Science Magazine and the Washington Post;
  • Peer to peer sharing, where subscribers send or post shareable links to journal articles on nature.com tended to be mostly (67 per cent) between subscribers and non-subscribers, with the remainder mainly accounted for by sharing between those who already had subscription access;
  • The trial had no adverse implications for subscription-based journals either in terms of institutional business or individual article sales;
  • The free read-only links were shared all across the globe but the most active sharing was instigated by subscribers in: the USA, the UK, Japan, Germany, China, Canada, Spain, France, India and the Republic of Korea; and
  • The free read-only links were also accessed by readers across the globe. Top receiving nations were, in order: USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, Spain, Brazil, and the Netherlands.

Steven Inchcoombe,  managing director of the Nature Research Group at Springer Nature, said: 'Our original aim had been to open up our treasure chest of scientific knowledge to both researchers and society at large, so we are very pleased that this content sharing trial has concluded with positive results.

'This means that the initiative to offer on-platform, convenient sharing of the full text of nature.com articles using ReadCube’s enhanced PDF technology will continue indefinitely. No-one in our industry has so far been able to do this, that is, to create the policy, supply the content and provide the digital platform.”  

Nicko Goncharoff, director of publisher relations at Digital Science, added: 'Nature’s progressive policy combined with ReadCube technology enabled us to provide a  positive, sustainable option for conveniently sharing subscription journal content. This is a significant step toward addressing researchers’ needs to share articles and knowledge while giving publishers and authors visibility on sharing activity.'

The technology behind this initiative was developed by ReadCube, part of the Digital Science family of companies.  ReadCube develops software to make research literature more manageable, accessible and connected for researchers, institutions and publishers. Its publisher technologies have already been adopted by partners such as Wiley, Nature Publishing Group, Karger, De Gruyter, and Rockefeller University Press.