On Why I’ve Removed My Work From Academia.edu

Today, I removed everything I had uploaded to the Academia.edu website. I have kept my profile there (with a small statement on why I will not upload any of my work to the site), but only to serve as an access point to this website.

Academia.edu is as predatory on academia as pay-to-publish journals and potentially more harmful.

Removing my work has its drawbacks; my relevant papers won’t turn up in people’s searches for example. On the other hand, I might draw more people to this site where I have more options to do and say more.

My reason for removing my work from the site is the following:

Academia.edu is a private, for-profit, and predatory corporation seeking to monetise academia and turning the communality of scientific research and scholarship into a business opportunity.

This is all in the nature of capitalism, of course, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight it where you can.

Academia.edu is funded by private equity investors, chiefly Khosla Ventures, True Ventures, Spark Ventures, Spark Capital, and the private investors Mark Shuttleworth, Rupert Pennant-Rea, and Thomas Lehrmann. From these, the company has raised more than $17.5M. (This is all according to their own website).

These investors, of course, demand an ROI, which has forced Academia.edu to monetise their platform (like that wasn’t the plan from the begninning). This has, among other things, lead to them making full-text search (‘advanced search’) and the ability to know who is reading your work available only to premium users — which it costs the exorbitant amount of $99/yr to be.

As the two posts linked above also argue, this kind of profiteering behaviour in relation to science and scholarly work is predatory in its nature. It is an attempt to take a field which should be open for all and close it in order to monetise it. We should not allow this to happen. As Ico Maly writes in Diggit Magazine, “The academic production of knowledge should not be used to make profit, but to improve society”.

While some have seen Academia.edu as part of the (good, reasonable) effort to wrest away scholarly progress from mega-conglomerates of academic publishing like De Gruyter, Brill, &c. the solution is not to turn it over to a corporation that is the equivalent of their even more predatory counterparts.

Academia.edu is as predatory on academia as pay-to-publish journals and potentially more harmful since the majority of those who publish in pay-to-publish journals at least realise what they are doing. Yes, Academia.edu is free (unless, of course, you want actually useful features!), but remember: There is no such thing as a free lunch; when something’s free on the internet, it is because you’re the product; and other platitudes. It’s true, though.

Anyway, as I said above, I’ve deleted all content from my profile and uploaded this statement instead. I think you should too.


Read more:

Ico Maly, “The End of Academia.edu: How Business Takes Over”. Diggit Magazine, April 26 2017.

Laura McKenna, “The Convoluted Profits of Academic Publishing”. The Atlantic, December 17 2015.

Academia Inc.’s information with the California Secretary of State (I haven’t been able to find anything on how much money they make, I think because they’re not publicly traded).

Jan Blommaert, “Academic Publishing and Money”. Diggit Magazine, September 15 2016.

Jon Tennant, “ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and Bigger Problems with Scholarly Publishing”. Green Tea and Velociraptors blog, February 2 2017.

Sarah Bond, “Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account at Academia.edu”. Forbes Magazine, January 23 2017.

Sydney Johnson, “Academics Knock Academia.edu’s Premium Account and Paywalled Search Features”. EdSurge, May 2 2017.

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