Problems with Academia.edu?


A professor who prefers to remain anonymous writes in:

Academia.com has recently, and without previous announcement, changed its appearance.  This is, in itself, not remarkable, but the changes are vast and drastic and have an enormous effect on several of the features of the past; features which users used to have control over.  For instance, they completely deleted overnight (not moved elsewhere, not saved for the users somewhere) the “Posts” section, which many of us users used as a blog of sorts or for announcements.  I had a number of items there, which I consider important, and they are all gone.  I inquired several times, even called their Skype account (to which I have access, since they recently contacted me with a favor), but never received a single reply.  

The site seems much more restrictive now and does not offer users much liberty to design their own page, all of which is entirely unprecedented and completely opaque.
I have trusted this website and preferred it over the many other offerings that are out there, but I am beginning to feel very uneasy about them.  I wonder what other Academia users think.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Alternatives?
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Christian Munthe
5 years ago

Totally agree. I’ve been very happy with Acadeia.edu up till recently. Among other things, it now seems completely impossible to update any uploads except articles. As I am as well on researchgate, I’m seriously considering a complete migration over there.

Christian MuntheReport

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Christian Munthe
5 years ago

Hi Christian, I’d like to help you get to the bottom of your struggle. Can you send me an email with a screenshot of the part of your profile that’s not working and the information that you’d like to update? [email protected]Report

Dave Ripley
5 years ago

Just to take the chance to weigh in: everyone, please post your papers on your websites or on philpapers or some other repository that’s actually public rather than (or, if you must, in addition to) academia.edu. Those of us who don’t want to join academia.edu can’t download papers from them. If you want your paper to be accessible, post it somewhere that allows everyone access.Report

Richard Price
Reply to  Dave Ripley
5 years ago

Dave – thanks for your thoughts. I put some stats in my comment below on maximizing exposure to papers.Report

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
5 years ago

Users can no longer move items to reorganize sections (or, at least, I can’t find a way to do this). I would love to get some help with this, but I have never gotten a response from the Academia.edu personnel to any of my queries about the site. Nevertheless, I was pretty happy with the old system and its appearance.Report

Dani
Dani
Reply to  Shelley Tremain
5 years ago

You can, actually, still add sections. go to your profile, click on the “edit” button, then click on “sections and papers”. This allows you to add new sections. I don’t know about recovering lost notes, though, as I never used that feature.Report

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
Reply to  Dani
5 years ago

Thanks, Dani. I wasn’t referring to adding new sections. I have done that. My remark referred to moving items *within* an existing section and moving items from one (existing) section to another (existing) section.Report

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Shelley Tremain
5 years ago

Hi Shelley, here’s a support article with videos showing how to move papers around using the new profile: http://support.academia.edu/customer/en/portal/articles/2133811-moving-papers-between-sectionsReport

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
Reply to  Kate
5 years ago

Kate, thanks for the instructions and video. Although I was able to move documents within sections, I could not move documents to another section because a “downward arrow” that should appear in the section is not there (it’s a new section with nothing in it). I don’t wish to bore others with this, so if you would kindly email me at [email protected], I’d be grateful.Report

Anon
Anon
5 years ago

Don’t let the .edu website fool you. This is a for profit organisation, that had some heavy investors who want a significant $$$ return on their investment. I remember an interview with its founder who said, when asked about this, that they were going to make money through ‘big data’; essentially enabling companies to trawl through vast amounts of academic work that we have uploaded for free because we’ve been fooled into thinking it’s some happy clappy academic facebook.Report

Kris McDaniel
Kris McDaniel
5 years ago

Just wanted to second Dave Ripley’s comment above. Use academia.edu if you want, but if you want to have your work find as large an audience as possible, you are shooting yourself in the foot if you use only academia.edu. There’s a lot out there to read! If you put up barriers to people reading your work, they’ll likely choose to read something else.Report

Clayton
5 years ago

Meh. On the upside, it’s a free site that I find useful for uploading my work, discussing the work of others, and finding work that others are doing in my areas of interest. The downsides are supposed to be that its appearance and functionality can change without prior notice and that someone might make loads of money from it. I don’t see why the downside is that big of a downside, but I think the upsides are real. I find things there, I find people find my things there, and the discussion sessions I’ve taken part in have been really useful. I can see why people who want wide readership would upload to as many sites as possible, but I’m not sure I see what the fuss is. (I’m not saying that there’s nothing to make a fuss about, only that I’m waiting for some clear statement of the features that call for fuss-making.)Report

n
n
Reply to  Clayton
5 years ago

The issue is the winner-take-all effect. When one (online) hub becomes *the* platform to get information, it gains something of a monopoly status. All other venues lose out on the limited time and attention people have to dedicate to this sort of thing. So the issue isn’t the money or functionality, but that a unilaterally controlled platform will inherently create a monoculture. We need a more distributed, trustless approach, so that new and different kinds of research collaboration are allowed to develop.Report

Clayton
Reply to  n
5 years ago

Fwiw, n, I agree that there are dangers with some site becoming a monopoly, but I don’t yet see how that applies in this case. (If anything, I’d worry about a push to use PhilPapers exclusively for just this sort of reason.) The presence and popularity of academia.edu doesn’t seem like something to worry about if you worry about monopolies because we have PhilPapers, personal websites, and other similar sites that seem to be doing just fine. I don’t see academia.edu becoming a monopoly anytime soon and it’s because I want there to be a variety of platforms for collaboration that I’m quite happy that they’ve introduced a platform for collaboration that the competitors hadn’t.Report

n
n
Reply to  Clayton
5 years ago

I go away a few hours and come back to the founder touting how “Academia.edu outperforms personal websites and department homepages,” (1) and is “the largest open access initiative in the world by traffic” (2). So, while I agree that there are other options and Academia deserves some leeway to fix bugs and make good-faith changes, winner-take-all is definitely an issue going forward.

1. http://dailynous.com/2015/10/01/problems-with-academia-edu/#comment-73200
2. http://dailynous.com/2015/10/01/problems-with-academia-edu/#comment-73209Report

Clayton
Reply to  n
5 years ago

Still not convinced. PhilPapers has institutional support that academia.edu does not and I don’t see it going away in the near future. And I don’t see academics deciding not to use departmental webpages or personal webpages to host their work even if there’s an alternative that outperforms these options. In the UK, we’re required to upload all of our published work to a site other than academia.edu so that it is accessible to the public. This provides steady support for alternatives to academia.edu. The worry about academia.edu becoming a monopoly strikes me as unfounded and the fact that the founder offers evidence that his site outperforms other options doesn’t really do much to justify that worry. We live in a world where lots of things can be ranked and the mere fact that some things outperform others doesn’t typically lead to a monopoly.Report

n
n
Reply to  Clayton
5 years ago

I’m replying to your comment of 2 October here since the comment system won’t let me reply there.

The point about the monopoly is not that there aren’t alternatives. What I wanted to emphasize was that the growth of Academia.edu will make it (almost) a requirement for researchers. When Academia makes changes — good, bad or otherwise — everyone will have to figure out how to make it work for them. For some it won’t be a problem, for others it will be a burden. This was OP’s issue and apparently lots of other people have similar concerns. Better to have multiple good platforms now (and wider in scope than PhilPapers- it is good for philosophy but not much else) rather than thinking everything is fine and having no options when Academia no longer works for you.

One last issue: The point that there are rankings actually does matter. Once reputational rankings exist, people tend to greatly overstate quality differences between individuals. This can feed into the winner take all effect.
see:
Gould, R. 2001. The origins of status hierarchies: A formal theory and empirical test. American Journal of Sociology 107: 1143–78.
Podolny, J. M. 2005. Status signals. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Report

Dave Ripley
Reply to  Clayton
5 years ago

You don’t address, or even mention, the downside that I and others have pointed to above: with academia.edu, unlike the other potential places mentioned (personal webpages, philpapers), your paper is not available to be downloaded by anyone who is not also a member of academia.edu.

The fuss comes (at least the fuss from me) for the simple reason that we have sensible and easy-to-use paper distribution systems that are completely open. Academia.edu wants to introduce barriers where none are needed, and it has been partially successful at this.Report

Richard Price
Reply to  Dave Ripley
5 years ago

Dave – the optimal strategy is to do both. Not posting on Academia.edu means you are not providing easy access to your article to the 25 million registered users on Academia.edu, and missing out on a 64% citation bump over 5 years. (64% is Academia.edu’s citation advantage compared with posting on a personal homepage; 73% is the citation advantage compared with leaving the paper on your hard drive. See my comment below for more info.)Report

Anonymous full professor
Anonymous full professor
5 years ago

I would like to follow Dave Ripley in urging people to make their work available on their own websites or on philpapers rather than on academia.edu. Faculty search committees considering possible appointments, or colloquium committees and conference organizers looking for people to invite need to have easy access to people’s work. Papers on academia are poorly presented (e.g. without dates and publication details) and many senior faculty members don’t belong to academia.edu and have good reasons not to want to. My heart always sinks when I’m trying to get information about someone’s research and find that the only access is through academia.edu. If that’s all you use to post your work, you are not only shooting yourself in the foot, but also making it hard for search committees and conference organizing committees to do a conscientious job of learning about who is out there and what work they’re doing.Report

Nick Byrd
5 years ago

If one wants both (a) customizability and statistics tracking like that offered by academia.edu — and their ilk — without (b) the for-profit/exclusive-access nature of academia.edu — and their ilk — then one might consider (i) making a free website with WordPress, Google sites, etc. and then (ii) creating entries in Google Scholar that link to the files on your website.

That would be even better than PhilPapers insofar as (1) you would have more control over the website than you do over your PhilPapers profile page and (2) your work might be more accessible to other disciplines (since Google Scholar is, presumably, used by more disciplines than PhilPapers).

One potential loss. Google Scholar tracks citations, but not views, downloads, etc. So Google Scholar’s stats aren’t quite as informative as the ones offered by Academia.edu, ResearchGate, etc. Then again, one could easily get a sense of the views and downloads of each of one’s paper based on website analytics. Such analytics can even be free (e.g., Google Analytics). So maybe this isn’t a loss after all.

There might be other considerations that outweigh the considerations above thereby making my recommendation moot. Since I’m still thinking through how to handle this kind of thing, I’d be open to hearing such considerations.

(Apologies for typos)Report

Clerk
Clerk
5 years ago

Our philosophy subject librarian at UT recommends ORCID as a non-profit alternative to Academic.edu and ResearchGate. I haven’t looked into it myself, yet.Report

Nick Byrd
Reply to  Clerk
5 years ago

In my limited experience with ORCID, I am asked to verify some kind of institutional credential before I can access whatever I am trying to access. When I was not a student, I couldn’t access it. Is this still true of materials on ORCID? If so, I’d prefer PhilPapers or a personal website.Report

Richard Price
5 years ago

Hi, I’m the founder of Academia.edu. We recently re-designed the profile page as part of a general design upgrade to the whole of Academia.edu. We feel the new profile page represents a cleaner, more elegant look. There have been some bugs as we’ve transitioned to the new profile, and we’ve been working on identifying them and fixing them. Some of the bugs are hard to track down, as they are specific to certain configurations of browser and operating system. However, we are arranging skype calls with affected users to figure out the exact problematic configuration. Once we know the exact issue, the problem is fixed rapidly. Please email [email protected] if you are experiencing an issue.

The posts feature was not used by many users, and it required a re-think. We are going to allow users who did use the feature to access their posts.

On the question of where articles should be posted, the more places the better. Some stats about Academia.edu that are worth sharing:

– Last year 285 million unique people visited Academia.edu to access papers. There are 17 million academics in the world. The demand for academic content on Academia.edu is international and considerable.
– We recently did a study on 40,000 papers on Academia.edu and off Academia.edu, exploring reports from users that they had noticed a bump in citations after uploading a paper to Academia.edu. The study found that papers on Academia.edu got 73% more citations than papers off Academia.edu after 5 years, controlling for selection biases. We were able to trace this 73% boost to the number of additional downloads that papers on Academia.edu get.

The 73% boost refers to uploading a paper to Academia.edu vs leaving it on your hard drive. We also compared uploading your paper to Academia.edu vs it being available online elsewhere (personal homepage, department homepage). The findings were that papers on Academia.edu had 64% more citations over 5 years than papers available online elsewhere. The paper, data and code are here https://www.academia.edu/12297791/Open_Access_Meets_Discoverability_Citations_to_Articles_Posted_to_Academia.edu

The optimal strategy for getting papers widely read and cited is to share them in as many places as possible. If you choose one place, Academia.edu outperforms personal websites and department homepages.Report

Dave Ripley
Reply to  Richard Price
5 years ago

Thanks for turning up! While you’re here, can you say a bit about why academia.edu chooses not to make the papers posted there downloadable by non-members? This is the main reason I left academia.edu years ago, and one of the things that I and others in this thread have pointed to as a key problem. So far, nobody seems to have offered a sensible rationale (except, at least by implication, Anon).Report

Richard Price
Reply to  Dave Ripley
5 years ago

Hi Dave – I was chatting to a professor in the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton the other day, and he made the following remarks about how he got hooked on Academia.edu:

“I was looking for a Russian article. I couldn’t find it in any library. I looked in the libraries in Munich, Heidelberg, Leiden, and a few others. It then occurred to me, somewhat belatedly, to Google it, and found that a pdf of it was on Academia.edu. I tried to download it, and found that I had to register. I did that, and as soon as I registered, I felt compelled to share my CV. I then uploaded a recent article. Normally this article would have been read by 5-6 people over a two year period. I got 20 views within a few minutes, and a 100 views within the month.

I started uploading articles, and I now have uploaded over 100 articles, and 2 book manuscripts. Academia.edu is the best thing that has ever happened to my research. I recommend Academia.edu to others. It saves me a tremendous amount of time.”

The reason that there are 6.6 million papers on Academia.edu, attracting 285 million unique visitors in the last year, is that people sign up when they download a paper, and then at some point later they upload their own papers, which helps the overall system, and provides a 73% citation boost to the uploaded paper.

Signing up is free and takes a few seconds. It is hard to apologize for a feature that has led to the creation of the largest open access initiative in the world by traffic; 6.6 million papers being placed online; and a distribution system with the largest citation advantage an academic can get on the internet today.Report

recent grad
recent grad
Reply to  Richard Price
5 years ago

Richard (if I may),

You say:

“It is hard to apologize for a feature that has led to the creation of the largest open access initiative in the world by traffic; 6.6 million papers being placed online; and a distribution system with the largest citation advantage an academic can get on the internet today.”

Are you claiming that the recent exclusivity of the downloading process helped attract millions of users before that feature was even in place? If that’s your claim, it seems implausible. If that’s not your claim, then you haven’t addressed Dave’s question.Report

Richard Price
Reply to  recent grad
5 years ago

Hi recent grad, the feature that people sign up when they download a paper has been in place for years: at least 5 years.Report

Kenny Pearce
5 years ago

I use Academia.edu, BEPress, PhilPapers, and my personal web-site for sharing papers. I upload drafts, and often want to update them as I edit further in response to comments. It is really annoying to have to go four places and re-upload the draft, so I try to keep a centralized version on my own web-site and link to it from everywhere. (I only upload to Academia when/if I’m permitted to upload a final, published version.) After the new update: (1) I cannot find any way to add links, other than typing the URL in the abstract, which is highly non-optimal; (2) Academia.edu appears to have archived versions of papers that I don’t remember uploading. Is it going out and getting versions from my web-site, based on the link, without my permission?

I find Academia.edu to have some distinctive benefits compared to the other sites I use and, as an early career scholar, I believe it’s most beneficial to me to use the ‘shotgun’ method (i.e., post everywhere to maximize exposure). But not if I can’t control the content and presentation. I certainly don’t want outdated drafts floating around. This, combined with the new interface, which is even worse than the old one (which was already not great), plus the decrease in my (already limited) control of what my page looks like has me considering closing my account.Report

Kenny Pearce
Reply to  Kenny Pearce
5 years ago

Also, I used to have a link to my CV for the same reason (only one version to update) but I can’t find that now, nor any place to add it.Report

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Kenny Pearce
5 years ago

Hi Kenny,

We’re working to bring back a lot of the functionality from the classic profile into the new design. That includes social media and external links that used to be on the left side of your profile (like the link that you use for your CV) . As an alternative in the meantime, you do have the option of uploading your CV as a PDF or .doc file directly to your profile. Here’s what that uploading process looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvIWmU_T6BoReport

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

I’m not sure if folks find this too inconvenient, but I’ve downloaded papers from academia.edu without being logged in before by just printing to a pdf. (And I hope Richard Price isn’t still reading should they decide to fiddle with the formatting so that’s less easy…).Report

Anon postdoc
Anon postdoc
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

I just tried that print-to-pdf trick, and at least on my computer (tested with IE and Chrome), it results in wonky text alignment (I think because it includes the academia.edu banner at the top). So maybe no need for them to fix…Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Anon postdoc
5 years ago

Yeah, I hadn’t tried it recently — that’s a bummer.Report

Fool
Fool
5 years ago

My favorite feature on academia.edu when I signed up was that it would show what search terms had brought people using search engines to my profile and papers. This became basically useless when google made some changes that required sites to pay them before they’d make this information available.

Since some academia.edu staff seem to be posting and reading here, any chance of a solution to this problem, or prospect of one day being able to know how people came to our work again?Report

Richard Price
Reply to  Fool
5 years ago

Hi – it wasn’t that Google required people to pay for this data. It was instead that they stopped sharing the data with anyone, for any price. I don’t see Google changing this policy in the future.Report

Dani
Dani
Reply to  Richard Price
5 years ago

If this is the case, why do I keep receiving emails from Academia that read “someone just found your page on google. Click here to see what search terms they used”?Report

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Dani
5 years ago

Hi Dani,

Good question. It looks like one of the emails we send is a little outdated. One of the engineers is updating it today. Thanks for the catch. Please let us know by email ([email protected]) if you keep receiving seemingly outdated emails.Report

Philemon
Philemon
5 years ago

Just to say, putting aside the issues with accessibility (important as they are), the new layout is beyond terrible. It screams “we’re modern with a clean design”, but lacks the functionality that was (at least mildly) attractive to researchers in the last version. And while ResearchGate’s new layout isn’t exactly on point (to my mind), it is at least quite usable – proper fields, proper categories, proper statistics, etc.Report

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Philemon
5 years ago

Hi Philemon,

Sorry to hear you don’t like our new layout. We’re working to bring back a lot of the functionality from the classic profile into the new design. This includes the fields you mentioned, which we actually added back yesterday. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the new profile.Report

Technically_a_Commenter
5 years ago

Good discussion and many good points made. I’ll second the comment, “If you want your paper to be accessible, post it somewhere that allows everyone access.” This is advisable for several reasons. In addition to those already given, there’s the internet proverb, “If you’re getting something for free, then you’re probably the product (being sold).” In the case of academia.edu, it’s your work that you upload as well. Not insignificantly, this proverb applies mostly to for-profit internet services. Being a for-profit corporation, this does apply to academia.edu. As such, and like all for-profit enterprises, the basis for business decisions is going to monetary. Because I can see no other possible motivation, I have to assume that this is the reason papers posted to academia.edu are not publicly accessible, but rather behind a membership wall– i.e., a person has to be a member to access the content which has been posted there. But membership is without cost to members, one might counter, so how could financial benefit accrue to academia.edu? The answer to that lies in the future: there is no guarantee that membership in academia.edu will always be free; indeed, it’s already happened that some initially free internet service, once it gained sufficient clients and created a need for its service, began charging for that service. Of course I’m speculating. I can’t read the minds of those in the boardrooms. But examining the evidence– that access is limited to members– and the (financially based) conditions in which we find that otherwise inexplicable policy, along with the fact that the strategy (switching a service from free to fee-based) has been successful in the past, my speculation doesn’t seem at all implausible.

So if anyone missed it the first two times, it bears repeating: If you want your paper to be accessible, post it somewhere that allows everyone access.Report

Wesley
Wesley
5 years ago

I just joined the site. I’ve noticed a few negatives. First, I second David Ripley’s comments above. It is annoying to have to be a member in order to DL papers, and was one reason why I avoided joining. So I won’t rely on it as a sole repository of my work, which probably decreases the likelihood I’ll be able to keep it updated along with others, like philpapers. Second, journal information for published papers is not and needs to be included directly with titles in the listings. Third, personally I’m not too into analytics, and find constantly seeing where people are clicking from a little off putting, but I recognize people like this feature and it is easily ignorable. Forth, it is hard to articulate, but as others have mentioned, the site doesn’t have a very good “feel” to it at all. Fifth there’s a bunch of stuff in my feed that isn’t very relevant. Maybe it will improve over time. It would be nice if there was some learning built into the functionality, about what kinds of things I want to see. Anyway, it’s a free service.

On the other hand, there are some strong positives. Within moments of joining, a session was recommended to me about a topic I was working on. I joined it, read a paper, gave comments, and conversed with the author. It was really great. A lot of people have told me they find cool papers relevant to their work in this way. So, I will continue for now and see how it goes. Thanks to this thread for encouraging me to join.Report

Alice Gorman
5 years ago

I am really unhappy with the new design as it removes many of the features that made it most useful to me.
1. The front page is now mostly space, with only a couple of papers visible on the screen unless you scroll down. The large square icons next to the papers (their first page) are mostly sparse black and white, as this is what most academic papers look like. It looks boring and unenticing.

2. Similarly, in the bar at the top which shows the sections, there are only a few visible in my case. You have to click ‘more’ to see them all. Every time an extra action is needed to view something (see point 1) is a time when someone won’t be bothered to do it.

3. So I have to re-order the papers in that section, and until I saw the link posted in response to a commenter above, I couldn’t work out how to do it! Similarly, I couldn’t work out how to move things between sections. It’s neither clear nor intuitive and we are used to doing these sorts of things, so I see that as a problem. You’re asking us to take time we don’t have to learn a new system instead of it being intuitive.

4. Because so much material is now click-through or scroll-down, it’s not possible to get a snapshot sense of a person’s work in one go. This really was useful when skimming for papers, collaborators, and just generally people you might want to make contact with.

5. I used my profile to highlight a whole range of things other than publications, such as public outreach, science communication, media appearances etc. I felt it was important to have a profile that showed how many other things academics routinely do, a well-rounded one that acknowledged how diverse our activities are. Again, most of this is no longer visible unless you take extra steps.

6. The details that you could formerly add to an entry seem to be mostly gone, and this is really a big problem if you’re entering something other than an academic publication. Seriously, NO DATE FIELD? Please bring these things back! It makes it almost impossible to adequately describe anything not a journal paper or book chapter. This is the most critical issue for me.

7. For older entries which do contain the more detailed information, editing these details does not seem possible. So I can’t update entries which had missing information.

8. I feel that a flexible and appealing-to-the-eye platform that allowed me to showcase all aspects of my work has now become a dry, boring skeleton. If I wanted that, I’d transfer everything to ResearchGate.

Please restore some of these features. I put a lot of work into my profile and it really does now feel like it was wasted time. I was an early user of academia.edu and frequently recommended it to people because it was so flexible. I don’t want another ResearchGate or ORCID.

Signed,

Aggrieved in AdelaideReport

Richard Price
Reply to  Alice Gorman
5 years ago

Alice, thank you for taking the time to write up these comments. We’ll consider them as we continue to work on the profile. Sorry about the missing date field; that is a clear omission, and we will fix it.

One thing I wanted to share is that the new profile appears to have increased paper views: preliminary data suggests that views on papers via the profile are up 18% in the new profile vs the old profile.

RichardReport

David Stern
David Stern
Reply to  Richard Price
5 years ago

Richard, I don’t think you appreciate why the redesign makes the site seem almost useless for the purposes of most long-time users, including myself. Like Aggrieved in Adelaide, I feel that the work I put into my profile has been wasted. Previously, one could look at a person’s profile page and see not only a list of titles, but also a lot of information about each title: an abstract, publication information, date, and so on. You could browse an enormous amount of information at a glance. Now, you can’t find out anything about any item on a profile page unless you click through to the “paper view” page. So of course “views on papers are up”: there’s no other way of getting even the most basic information (such as whether it’s a book, a paper, or piece of work, or even, often, what it’s about). But the trade-off is that the informativeness of the profile pages is down by about 95%.Report

Alice Gorman
Reply to  David Stern
5 years ago

Exactly as you say, David.Report

Oliver Pooley
Oliver Pooley
Reply to  David Stern
5 years ago

Another reason pages views might be up is that emails notifying you of uploads by those you follow no longer to include the paper’s title (as they used to); they just say “X has uploaded a paper”. This is a change that obviously decreases usefulness. Was it made just to artificially inflate paper views?Report

Richard Price
Reply to  Oliver Pooley
5 years ago

Olly – we change emails now and then and test them. What you saw was a temporary test, which we aren’t continuing. (Also, just to be clear, the 18% views boost I mentioned was from clicks on papers specifically from the profile, rather than clicks from emails).Report

Alice Gorman
Reply to  Richard Price
5 years ago

Thanks, Richard, I appreciate you responding. I look forward to seeing user feedback incorporated into the new design.

Best,
AliceReport

Christian Munthe
5 years ago

I have to say that the vigour with which representatives of Academia.edu are weighing in above to make the point that we are all idiots mainly to me signals desperation. Likewise, the fact that you have to write long essays and make demo-videos to explain how to do things which are supposed to be core functions is a vivid sign of utter failure. OF COURSE, core functions, such as uploading material (CV, articles, books, etc.) directly into different sections and moving between sections should be self-explanatory – as it was before. I’ll give this place one month, then I’m out. Might add that I am top 0,5-5% user and has been so for many years. Fix this, or lose me.Report

Richard Price
Reply to  Christian Munthe
5 years ago

Christian – apologies that these things haven’t been working as they should. You are absolutely right that core parts of the UX should not need explanation. We are working on improving it.Report

Christian List
5 years ago

In the context of this discussion, I thought I’d reproduce a comment on Academia.edu that I recently posted on another blog. Here it is:

One problem with Academia.edu, in my view, is the following clause in its Terms of Use — as of February 24, 2015, at: https://www.academia.edu/terms

“By making any Member Content available through the Site or Services, you hereby grant to Academia.edu a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, sublicenseable, perpetual, royalty-free license to reproduce, modify for formatting purposes, prepare derivative works based upon, publicly display, publicly perform, distribute, and otherwise use your Member Content in connection with operating and providing the Services and Content to you and to other Members.”

Though I’m not lawyer, I worry that the licence that members thereby grant to Academia.edu is far too strong. For example, what exactly does “perpetual” mean? Does it mean that Academia.edu retains this right even if someone removes an uploaded paper from his/her profile, or even if someone deletes his/her profile altogether? And what about “sublicenseable”? Furthermore, while most journals now have green open access policies which allow authors to post preprints of their published articles on non-commercial websites, it is not clear to me whether the Academia.edu terms (worded in the strong way I have quoted) are — strictly speaking — compatible with those green open access policies. (By contrast, posting articles on a non-commercial university server is unproblematically compatible with those policies.) Of course, right now, all parties involved seem to tolerate the status quo, but it would be good to modify the Terms of Use in such a way as to avoid these potential legal concerns.

By the way, it seems to me that both SSRN and ResearchGate have somewhat less demanding Terms of Use, though even in the case of those sites it would be interesting to know how their Terms of Use fit with journals’ green open access policies.

Needless to say, I, too, applaud the spirit of the open access movement and think that academic social networking sites provide a useful service. My remarks are meant to be constructive.Report

Richard Price
Reply to  Christian List
5 years ago

Christian, thank you for raising these questions. I’ll ask our lawyers, who produced our terms, what role ‘perpetual’ and ‘sublicenseable’ play.

I note that ‘perpetual’ is part of SSRN’s terms: “By contributing content to SSRN, you grant SSEP a non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide, revocable license to use your content in connection with the Services, including, without limitation, the rights to copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, print, allow others to print, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, translate, and reformat your digital and non-digital content, and/or to incorporate it into a collective work.”

Nonetheless it may be that “perpetual” is a residue of boilerplate legal language, and it may be possible to remove it.

I also note that Harvard’s model open access terms for institutional repositories have the “sublicenseable” clause at the end: “Each Faculty member grants the university a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same.” https://osc.hul.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/model-policy-annotated_01_2013.pdfReport

Christian List
5 years ago

Richard, thanks for looking into this. The key question, as I see it, is the following:

Are the Terms of Use of Academia.edu compatible with the green open access policies of most journals? In other words, are authors who have signed standard copyright agreements (such as those at OUP, CUP, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, Elsevier etc.) in a legal position to upload preprints of their publications onto Academia.edu under those terms? There are at least two potential concerns here.

(1) Once an author has signed a standard copyright transfer agreement, is the author still in a legal position to grant the extensive licence to Academia.edu which the author is currently expected to grant, under Academia’s Terms of Use?

(2) Green open access policies usually allow authors to post preprints on non-commercial servers (such as university servers or non-commercial subject repositories, such as arXiv.org), but Academia.edu is a commercial service. This may mean that authors’ rights to post material on Academia.edu are more limited.

I think it is important to clarify those issues. *If* uploading papers onto Academia.edu under its current terms turned out to conflict with the green open access policies of many journals (I’m not saying it does — I’m just asking for clarification), then the attention of users should be drawn to this. It would be unfortunate if users themselves had to bear that legal risk. Moreover, in case there is such a problem, it would be good if Academia.edu found a solution (e.g., by modifying its Terms of Use and/or negotiating with the relevant publishing consortia).

(Regarding the examples of SSRN and Harvard: the SSRN licence is “revocable”; and Harvard is a non-profit organisation, so for Harvard authors, posting their preprints on a Harvard server is compatible with the standard green open access policies.)

Once again, I applaud the open access idea, and I find the traditional status-quo of academic publications behind paywalls regrettable. Hopefully, in the long term, the entire model of academic publishing will shift significantly. But while we are in a transitional phase, it is important for authors to be protected against certain legal risks (e.g., the risk of being accused of copyright infringement) when making their papers available under green open access.Report

Dani
Dani
5 years ago

A problem much more likely to drive me away from Academia is that CVs (or at least mine) have not been displaying correctly for at least a week. They moved CVs into a new pop-up kind of frame, and when I click to see mine it loads only the first several pages. The rest of the pages show up blank. I have tried replacing the file and the same problem persists. Presumably there are lots of folks out there with CVs that are longer than 3 or 4 pages and who want them to show up in their entirety when prospective employers or collaborators go looking for their work.Report

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Dani
5 years ago

Hi Dani,

Sorry this has been an issue. CV display should now be working. Please let us know at [email protected] if you’re still experiencing problems.Report

Instructor Gadget
Instructor Gadget
5 years ago

I’m not clear on what and when I’m allowed to post something on academia.edu. When I google around it seems like I’m not supposed to put up stuff from Springer or other places up or I’m supposed to wait a long period of time before doing so. But it looks like some people I follow on academia.edu just post stuff as soon as it is accepted. I’d be interested in knowing (1) what I’m *officially* allowed to do and (2) what I can get away with doing. In particular, if I upload a paper that has been accepted and published online, what is the worst thing that could happen if I uploaded the paper to academia.edu? Any help on this would be appreciated.Report

Kate
Kate
5 years ago

Hi Instructor Gadget,

Most publishers allow you to upload a pre-print of your article. For more info about copyright policies, you can check out our Copyright FAQ page: http://www.academia.edu/copyrightReport

W H Lingenberg
W H Lingenberg
5 years ago

Today I noticed some improvements although adding a link (rather than a file attachment) to an existing entry still does not seem to be possible and the editing procedure did not work for the publication year (Firefox).

I would strongly suggest though removing those previews at the left, or at least making them optional at the discretion of the user. They usually contain no relevant information at all but force the screen to be filled with unused space. At present I do not see more than four papers at a time on the screen, making it impossible to get an easy overview of some scholar’s work.Report

beth
beth
5 years ago

I have just discovered academia and like it. But it seems impossible to comment on a paper, leave the session and then, in a couple of days return to leave another comment, to be part of an ongoing discussion. All I can do is click on JOIN, get a “request pending” response and that’s it. I’m a member (student, not contributor of articles) and this is very frustrating. If anyone out there can help, I would appreciate it. It seems there is no real person to contact.Report

justtryingtohelp
justtryingtohelp
5 years ago

Perhaps, academia.edu could try a combined “Guest” (view only) and “Member” (full functionality) model. Let the academic review committees purview their candidates anonymously. Let future users see what the site has to offer prior to downloading.

Another suggestion: Tell me on the main page the benefits of joining. Look, we are used to reading scads of information, so we can quickly process a list of benefits.

I have a game website myself and I appreciate the difficulties of designing a good user experience (UX). I too have removed some previous functionality as my game grew and its focus changed. I hope it hasn’t frustrated my users too much. So far I have had no complaints.

I am also into computer simulations. There are a couple of pieces of software I use that have been upgraded and have become virtually unusable. They have both experienced “feature creep”. There is one piece of software that I instantly fell in love with, way back in 1993, when I first received it. The reason: I was able to get it up and simulating within 10 mins. My god, it was love at first use. The newest “upgrade’ took me 3 hours to configure to run a simulation!

The problem is they tried to make it visually more appealing by incorporating fancy 3D graphics and supposedly more user-friendly by having multiple screens in which to configure parameters. So instead of simply writing x=5 in your model, you now have to to click through various screens to enter the value of x, a task that is infinitely difficult if that particular parameter is below the bottom of the screen.

It just seems to me that you may have gone for the MVC model of organizing your computer code, which has the benefit of helping you make updates, but has unfortunately carried over to your UI/UX design concepts. In other words you are fragmenting the user-interface when it would be more user-friendly to keep it on one page.Report

helen Lauer
helen Lauer
5 years ago

I just wrote to academia.edu to ask what they are up to, they have contacted a senior mentor, esteemed is too modest to capture the importance of the relationship–because they falsely claim that I have listed this professor as a co-author. No place and never. What are they talking about? She was acknowledged as a source of material in an anthology, as were everyone of my sources personal and commercial, and she is a referee on a CV which by the way I could not upload in the old way, it had to be listed as a paper.

But sending academics of high repute whom you have listed as your referees in a CV or who appear on an acknowledgement page, being asked to verify claims you make about them which you never did?

What distinguishes that kind of antic from outright libel? Whether it’s well intentioned or a technical glitch, the effect is the same on users’ credibility with the most important people to us professionally.

I’m flummoxed.

HelenLauer
Univ. GhanaReport

Kam Kalantar-Zadeh
Kam Kalantar-Zadeh
5 years ago

Compared to ResearchGate and its efficient features, Academia.edu does not appear to have a reliable mechanism to automatically capture all publications. Only half of my PUBMED indexed publication are listed under academia.edu and there is no other automated mechanism to rectify this. Sadly manual entry is not a competitive option for busy academicians. Report

P.Skayannis
P.Skayannis
5 years ago

Academia edu has become totally disappointing. It has fallen to the trap of “innovating” which a lot of sites do with the result of destroying the good things there had been doing. Just an example (of the many): you do not have the flexibility to arrange the order of appearance of your articles (according to date or how recently they were uploaded, etc). They had a quite good website and it has become a sterile crap. I only use it just because I have been using it for sometime, but I now rely on another one (which you all know).Report

Kate
Kate
Reply to  P.Skayannis
4 years ago

Hi P,
I’m sorry to hear you feel that way. You can manually re-arrange your papers, though we don’t offer a sort-by-date feature at this time. Here’s a guide from our Help Center explaining how to re-arrange your papers:
http://support.academia.edu/customer/en/portal/articles/2247191-organizing-works-within-sections
http://support.academia.edu/customer/en/portal/articles/2247281-moving-works-from-one-section-to-another
Report

Vivian Mendenhall, Ph.D.
Vivian Mendenhall, Ph.D.
4 years ago

Academia.edu just (May 2016) started sending me requests to approve my status as junior author on a paper that I think was published >35 years ago. And I can’t see the paper without joining academia.edu. This smacks of phishing, although apparently it isn’t technically. It does not inspire me to post or read anything on the site.Report

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Vivian Mendenhall, Ph.D.
4 years ago

Hi Vivian,
You can click on the title of the paper to see more information about the document. If it’s not something you collaborated on (or if you do not wish to have your name associated with it for whatever reason), you can just ignore the email. You will not be emailed about that paper again.
Thanks,
Kate at AcademiaReport

Bob
Bob
4 years ago

Apologies if after all the clever comments above mine sounds stupid… but has anyone else noticed that since the re-jig the website has become prohibitively slow? Report

Robbi Rahim
Robbi Rahim
4 years ago

Academia now is not free, even i can’t search an author that cited my paper, and i have to pay… i like prefer use Researchgate….Report

Aleph
3 years ago

I found academia.edu in its early days to be important in leveling the
playing field between adjuncts and tenure track staff when it comes to disseminating research and acquiring a digital profile. Tje fact that ot was free was obviously important . There are lots of scholars who do not belong to just one institution, and academia was a way for them to have a home page. Who can forget the injustice of carrying the full teaching load of a professor while the academic department does nothing to profile, acknowledge and support their actual casual teaching staff?Report