Thursday, May 14, 2015

Academia.edu

For most graduate students, early career researchers, and academics more broadly, Academia.edu is a staple tool in the arsenal of academics to forge connections, upload papers, and maintain an academic presence. But while there are undoubtedly many positives from utilising Academia.edu, two potential issues or questions have come to the forefront of my mind.

The first was prompted by the continuation of a discussion on Twitter about the problems facing early career researchers and post-PhD students taking jobs in non-ac/alt-ac roles but wishing to keep one foot in academia. Personally, keeping one foot in door is about keeping that window of opportunity alive should I wish to return to academia.

The 'edit-page' of Academia.edu and its academic affiliation choices was recently brought to my attention, so I had to check it out (thanks @SLevelt)! My previous post discussed some of the problems about maintaining an academic affiliation beyond the doctorate. You can read that post here:

http://beyondthedoctorate.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/academic-affiliation.html

My point rested on the fact that many post-PhD students are unhappy with the label of independent scholar or independent researcher being foisted on them by circumstances rather than choice. What I did not want to suggest is that there is anything wrong with being an independent scholar, and I hope that no one thought I was layering some pejorative connotations onto the title! (It was pointed out to me by a friend that an eminent scholar successfully spent almost two decades under the title of 'private scholar', with a massive research output, and returned happily to an academic position after that period).

However, the 'edit profile' choices of Academia.edu propagates that lack of choice, and therefore, if you do not have any academic affiliation, the only option is 'independent researcher'. More than that, the emphasis on academic affiliation is clear from the range of choices available, and the single, lonely box for 'independent researcher'.

Shameless self-promotion, eh?! 

I think this is unfair for a number of reasons. Firstly, it creates a two-tier system where those with academic affiliation are judged and valued higher than 'independent researcher', which is false. With only 20% of humanities PhDs in an academic job, there are far more of us still looking for that academic job than have one. Having it does not mean one person is better than another, just that one had more success and frankly more luck! Secondly, many would believe (wrongly in my view, but perhaps with good reason) that the title 'independent researcher' may hinder their future chances. For those with anxiety over the title, it would be better for Academia.edu to add more choice, or even the choice just to opt out entirely from an affiliation/title. Finally, this may negatively impact alternative academic careers, such as those working in museums, curation, publishing, departmental administration, etc.

My second issue (or perhaps it is more of a query), is that of uploading papers. Academia.edu is a fantastic venue for disseminating articles and papers. With the academic publishing market what it is, and the long peer review process for journals, Academia.edu represents a welcome alternative and quick publishing venue. However, more and more I noticed that full PhD theses are being uploaded. I completely understand wanting to share your hard-earned thesis with more than just your supervisor/s, friends and families, especially when getting it published as a monograph is increasingly difficult. Yet, what about uploading a PhD that has already been published as a monograph? I am curious about the motivation behind this. Is it to do with:
  • greater dissemination of your research?
  • low book sales?
  • that the monograph is significantly different to the thesis, that it is worthwhile putting the 'original' version online?
  • something else....
I do wonder whether publishers are aware when a thesis (which has been published as a monograph) gets uploaded onto Academia.edu 4+ years later, and what they think about that (if indeed it even crosses their radar!).

This is not in any meant as an indictment against those who upload papers/theses on Academia.edu. I am more curious than anything as to the reasons people upload, and what they have gotten out of doing so, positive or negative!

Personally, I have only really used Academia.edu as an online presence and to document those who stalk me (joking, not joking!!).

But perhaps I have missed a trick. I would love to hear how others have generally used Academia.edu and any benefits or negatives from being active on it! 


1 comment:

  1. It can be tough trying to get those grades, to qualify to advance to the next stage of your education and to get the best possible feedback from your tutors. editing scientific papers

    ReplyDelete

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