|Type of business||Private|
Type of site
|Platform for sharing research papers|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California|
|Alexa rank||624 (International), 74 (Indonesia) (January 2018)|
Academia.edu is an American social networking website for academics. The platform can be used to share papers, monitor their impact, and follow the research in a particular field. It was launched in September 2008, with 39 million unique visitors per month as of January 2019 and over 21 million uploaded texts. Academia.edu was founded by Richard Price, who raised $600,000 from Spark Ventures, HOWZAT Partners, Brent Hoberman, and others.
The website allows its users to create a profile, upload their work(s), select areas of interests and then the user can browse the networks of people with similar interests among the almost, as of December 2017, 58 million users from around the world.
Academia.edu's competitors include ResearchGate, Google Scholar and Mendeley. Compared to ResearchGate, in 2016 Academia.edu reportedly had more registered users (about 34 million versus 11 million) and higher web traffic, but ResearchGate was substantially larger in terms of active usage by researchers. The fact that ResearchGate restricts its user accounts to people at recognized institutions and published researchers may explain the disparity in active usage, as a high percentage of the accounts on Academia.edu are lapsed or inactive.
Academia.edu claims it supports the open science or open access movements and, in particular, instant distribution of research, and a peer-review system that occurs alongside distribution, instead of prior to it. Accordingly, the company stated its opposition to the proposed (since withdrawn) 2011 U.S. Research Works Act, which would have prevented open-access mandates in the U.S.
However, Academia.edu is not an open access repository and is not recommended as a way to pursue green open access by Peter Suber and experts, who instead invite researchers to use field-specific repositories or general-purpose repositories like Zenodo.
Academia.edu is not a university or institution for higher learning and so under current standards it would not qualify for the ".edu" top-level domain. However, the domain name "Academia.edu" was registered in 1999, prior to the regulations requiring .edu domain names to be held solely by accredited post-secondary institutions. All .edu domain names registered prior to 2001 were grandfathered in, even if not an accredited post-secondary institution.
A critic, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, the Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association, said she finds the use of the ".edu" domain name by Academia.edu to be "extremely problematic", since the domain name might mislead users into thinking the site is part of an accredited educational institution rather than a for-profit company.
In November 2011, Academia.edu raised $4.5 million from Spark Capital and True Ventures. Prior to that, it had raised $2.2 million from Spark Ventures and a range of angel investors including Mark Shuttleworth, Thomas Lehrman, and Rupert Pennant-Rea. In September 2013, the company raised $11.1 million from Khosla Ventures, True Ventures, Spark Ventures, Spark Capital and Rupert Pennant-Ream, bringing its total equity funding to $17.7 million.
Many academics are happy about the increased publicity their research can garner due to the website, but some are worried about the effect on research and science in general, especially since Academia.edu refuses to make its business model public.TechCrunch remarked that Academia.edu gives academics a "powerful, efficient way to distribute their research" and that it "will let researchers keep tabs on how many people are reading their articles with specialized analytics tools", and "also does very well in Google search results". Academia.edu seems to reflect a combination of social networking norms and academic norms.
Months after its acquisition of Academia.edu rival Mendeley, Elsevier sent thousands of takedown notices to Academia.edu, a practice that has since ceased, following widespread complaint by academics, according to Academia.edu founder and chief executive Richard Price.
In early 2016, some users reported having received e-mails from Academia.edu where they were asked if they would be interested in paying a fee to have their papers recommended by the website's editors. This led some users to start a campaign encouraging users to cancel their Academia.edu accounts.
Other criticisms include the fact that Academia.edu uses a "vendor lock-in" model: "It's up to Academia.edu to decide what you can and can't do with the information you've given them, and they're not likely to make it easy for alternative methods to access". This is in reference to the fact that, although papers can be read by non-users, a free account is needed in order to download papers: "you need to be logged in to do most of the useful things on the site (even as a casual reader)".
A registered user, in order to use advanced search on the site and several other functions, needs to subscribe to premium ($100- per year, or $10- per month) as explained on the site when using basic title search.