Referencing research papers

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Referencing research papers

Post by silver007a »


I hope you can help. I create video and write articles and like to refer to research. I want to stay on the right side of copyright law.

Sites like researchgate elsevier, ncbi, pubmed, nature, all have paywalls and most research papers have copyright clauses attached.

If someone gives me a copy of the paper that they bought via the paywall am I allowed to read it, and am I allowed to make a reference to the data in the research?

There is also a chrome extension that searches for papers that have been published behind paywalls but have also been published on other sites and therefore available to read. I would be allowed to read it at that point, but would I be able to reference any of the research paper in my own work?


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Re: Referencing research papers

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Silver,

Yes, you can read and quote from research papers, irrespective of how you accessed them provided that they have been published in some way. The authority for this is section 30 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. There is also an exception which allows text mining or textual analysis, provided that this is done for non-commercial purposes. Although Elsevier and other publishers fight hard against it, a good proportion of scientific papers also make their way to repositories like SciHub, where access is effectively free, as I am sure you are probably aware.

On the specific point about quoting data, this is entirely permissible, as facts (and all raw data are considered as facts) are not protectable by copyright. Only the analysis or theories or interpretation around such facts would be sufficientally creative to attract copyright, but even then there is nothing to stop you from selectively quoting from the copyright-protected parts of a paper under the fair dealing exception contained in section 30, provided that you cite the source, which I imagine you would want to do anyway.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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