ResearchGate has moved at least 1.7 million articles to make them less easily available, according to a publishers' group that sent mass take-down notices against papers they said were in breach of copyright laws.
James Milne, a spokesman for the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, said that the action was a "positive step" by the academic social network but added that the papers still breach copyright and that ResearchGate was allowing them to be re-uploaded into the public domain.
At the beginning of October, the CRS, a group of five publishers including Elsevier, Wiley and Brill, issued a wave of take-down notices. Since then, 93 per cent of the CRS publishers' papers had been made less accessible, explained Dr Milne, so that instead of being instantly downloadable, users had to request a copy from the author.
But this additional restriction does not go far enough, he said, as the terms of copyright only allow them to be shared with those closely related to the research.
"If they were really [serious about our demands] they would identify which papers are under copyright and make sure that those only stay in private sharing networks," he said. ResearchGate had also been much less active in moving papers from publishers which were not part of the CRS, he added.
A spokeswoman for ResearchGate said the company could not comment.