Helping Researchers Answer the Question: How Can I Share It?

August 3, 2017 Tom Griffin

How Can I Share It, launched in 2016 by the International Association of STM Publishers, is a website providing researchers with tools and guidance on sharing research content. As the site celebrates its first anniversary, we sat down with Matt McKay, Director of Communications & Events at STM, to discuss the site.

17871f2.jpgQ. For readers who are unaware, first tell us a little about the International Association of STM Publishers.

A. STM is the global trade association representing academic and professional publishers. We have over 120 members across 21 countries who collectively publish around two thirds of all journal articles. STM plays a leading role in promoting industry best practices and developing public policies which support publishers and their authors in disseminating the results of research. Members include learned societies, university presses, private companies, news start-ups and established players – many of whom are not-for-profits. You will often meet STM members at the various publishing industry events which take place annually around the world – including at STM’s two main conferences in the US and at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Q. Can you describe how the ‘voluntary principles for article sharing on scholarly collaboration networks’ came about?

A. Research is by its nature a collaborative process. Scholarly Collaboration Networks (SCNs) have been a part of the scholarly communication landscape for some time now, providing a way for researchers to collaborate and share their results. To gain a better understanding of the current landscape of article sharing through SCNs, STM conducted an open consultation in early 2015. The aim was to facilitate discussion by all stakeholders in order to establish a core set of principles that clarify how content should be shared using SCNs.  Our hope for this initiative is for publishers and SCNs to work together to facilitate the sharing of subscription and licensed content in a manner that is simple and seamless for academic researchers while also consistent with access and usage rights.

The consultation generated 50 substantive comments and the resulting feedback was carefully considered and woven into a revised version of the Voluntary principles for article sharing on scholarly collaboration networks. The principles have subsequently been endorsed by over 50 organizations from university presses, learned societies and academic publishers through to industry organizations, publishing service providers and SCNs themselves. Since the posting of the principles, several major publishers have already produced simplified, open and transparent publishing policies that specifically address the sharing of articles, and many more publishers are in the process of adapting their policies as called for by the principles.

Q. What was the impetus for How Can I Share It?

A. How Can I Share It was envisaged as a continuation of the project STM started with the creation of the voluntary principles. We wanted to produce a dedicated website which would cover all aspects of scholarly sharing as well as provide a new public home for the Voluntary principles. Since its launch last year we developed additional resources to add to the site, including visualizations (e.g. and ( and useful external resources on the current sharing landscape.

We’re seeing a good volume of traffic to the site – nearly 8,000 unique visitors last month so we’re hoping that How Can I Share it can continue to be a useful jumping off point for scholarly sharing, and a useful source of tools, information and resources for all interested in the sharing of scholarly research.

Q. How does the site make sharing easier for researchers?

A. The site includes practical information and tools to ensure articles can be shared quickly, easily and consistently. A DOI look-up tool provides researchers with an easy way to check where a journal article can be shared in line with its access and usage rights. To date, seven leading publishers have added their policies into this tool and we’re currently working to expand its breadth further. A section outlining publisher policies provides assistance to visitors by linking to the latest versions of a publisher’s license information – many of which have been updated because of this site and the voluntary principles to provide additional clarity around the specific topic of article sharing.

Alongside the voluntary principles themselves (offered in seven different languages) we have also included a detailed FAQ and visualization to further clarify how, where and what content should be shared using scholarly collaboration networks. The “Share it Here” section of the site offers a wide selection of recommended SCN sites where researchers can share their articles, as well as a compilation of sharing resources.

The latest addition to the site ‘A shared Journey’ is an interactive visualization which follows a paper from conception through to publication to demonstrate how ideas go on to become peer reviewed articles while highlighting how the research might be shared along that journey.

Thanks for sharing, Matt!

Editor's note:

Wiley recently launched Wiley Content Sharing across its portfolio. Wiley Content Sharing facilitates collaboration by allowing authors and subscribers to share free-to-read full-text articles with non-subscribers. In addition, Wiley Content Sharing provides the public with greater access to research when following links from selected media outlets globally. For more information regarding Wiley Content Sharing please visit our FAQs.

Image Credit: STM

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