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In defence of academia.edu
Sarah Bond has published an article on Forbes, titled: Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu.
Dear Sarah Bond:
Academia.edu arose as a response to the exclusive distribution of articles by journal publishers—whose money gouging is orders of magnitude more obtrusive, and more obstructive to disseminating scholarship, than academia.edu’s.
(And the money gouging continues whether you use academia.edu or not, because academic careers still rely on peer reviewed journals overwhelmingly published by commercial publishers.)
Bond’s suggestion of Institutional Repositories as an alternative is cold comfort to independent scholars like me—or like the independent scholar who applauded this article on my Facebook feed. (Is putting up your papers on your personal website so much better then?) Not to mention how having papers scattered to the winds, one repository at a time (or one personal website at a time, for independent scholars), means noone will ever be able to search them in the one place. There have been moves to federate repositories for decades now, and they still won’t deliver the economy of scale that academia.edu has, driven by profit as it is. (Shall I opt out of Google too because they sell ads?)
Other disciplines, in the sciences and medicine, have dealt with this a lot better (arXiv for example). But for the humanities, we’re not there; and until such time as Humanities Commons, which Bond touts, gets there, I have no interest in deleting my academia.edu account. I’m not compromising what little dissemination my work gets, with no institutional backing, in order to prove your point.
Yes, academia.edu profiteers on my labour. So does your university. Yes, academia.edu keeps trying to get me to upgrade. I’m used to it by now. It’s no worse than the model that came before it.
If you want to bring down academia.edu, build a Commons that has its economy of scale and size. Those of you who are employed within academia have better resourcing to do so than I do. Until such time, I’m OK with being monetised by academia.edu.
Or, for that matter, Google.