|Type of business||Private|
Type of site
|Platform for sharing research papers|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California|
Academia.edu is an American for-profit social networking website for academics. It began as a free and open repository of academic journal articles and registered a .edu domain name when this was not limited to educational institutions.
The site was launched in September 2008.
Academia.edu was founded by Richard Price.
On its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company uses the legal name Academia Inc.
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.
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. As of 2020, the traffic ranks had reversed, with ResearchGate being a top 150–200 website in the global Alexa ranks, versus a position in the 200–300 range for Academia.edu.
Unpaywall, which collects data about open access versions of academic publications and provides easy access to them, is considered a competitor to Academia.edu for the users who prefer more legally sound green open access hosts.
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, before the regulations required .edu domain names to be held solely by accredited post-secondary institutions. All .edu domain names registered before 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 found the use of the ".edu" domain name by Academia.edu to be "extremely problematic", since it might mislead users into thinking the site is part of an accredited educational institution rather than a for-profit company.
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 before 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.
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)".
In December 2016, Academia.edu announced new premium features that includes data analytics on work and the professional rank of the viewers, which have also received criticism.