Why I quit Academia.edu
Well it should be obvious why, right? No? Oh let me tell you, Academia.edu is not the friendly neighbour that invites you to his home. You get invited and even some food, but the good wine and the freshly made dish is for someone else. Someone who pays your neighbour until you smell the better food and think about paying as well…
What is Academia.edu?
Academia.edu is something that you could describe as a Facebook for scientists. Most of you will already know, but for those who don’t, here is the outline: On Academia.edu, you can set up a profile that connects you to your university and upload your works like presentations, articles or even whole books. The idea behind it is great: you can build up a profile, find and follow scientists you are interested in and increase your reach that way.
Academia.edu is owned by a San Francisco based company that started the service in 2008 and was founded by an Oxford PhD named Richard Price (nomen est omen). Today, nearly 200 million users have registered, over 40 million papers have been uploaded, and the page has over 98 million visits a month. A success story, right? Well, to use the full spectrum of the website, you got to pay a 100$ a year, because Academia needs to make money. This does not wonder, as investors want something back.
Why I quit Academia.edu
Initially, I started to use Academia to make my papers available. I don’t really remember when I joined, but I guess it was around 2010/11. There weren’t much alternatives, at least that I knew of. So I gardened my profile and fed it with papers I wrote, presentations I gave and even my graduate thesis. After a while though, the permanent reminders of the premium service suggested to me, that a premium profile would be a good idea. I never purchased one, as I didn’t see the point really, but the advertising was so good, that I actually got the feeling of missing out.
A while ago my colleague and friend Sophie wrote about quitting Academia.edu for similar reasons. She also made me aware at that time, that uploading your papers to the service isn’t even really helpful, as Academia isn’t providing any persistent identifiers, like DOI. Also, Academia tries to trick you into the premium service with suggesting that your profile is incomplete or wrong in the premium part of the website. There are other choices though.
Where I go now
I started to upload all my papers to Zenodo now. Why? Because this service doesn’t need to make money and offers a lot of additional possibilities. First, you get a DOI, but that is not all. Besides papers and presentations, you can upload quiet a lot of stuff. This includes software or lessons and the service can connect to GitHub for example. The possibilities are endless and they are knowing what they are doing. You can also control who has access to your publications.
But Zenodo is not the only possibility. Figshare.com is also a yet free service with the possibility to receive DOIs and other services like the Open Science Framework do the same. So the main reason to quit Academia is actually, because you can. Sure, the service has the highest user numbers, but that is something we just need to accept. In the long run I am betting on other services. University and knowledge should be free and accessible (that’s Why I use OrcID), two things Academia is promoting to do, but really doesn’t.