A piece published in the Chronicle of Higher Education last week criticized Academia.edu and sparked discussion surrounding the role of for-profit companies in facilitating sharing and allowing access to scholarship. Or perhaps it is better to say “reignited,” as many of the issues brought up in the piece are topics of discussion in scholarly communications and other areas for some time now.¹ The main concern of academics is that sites like Academia.edu and ResearchGate are profiting off the work of academics and universities, and adding little to support and provide access to research.
This and other concerns were published in a post written by the University of California’s Office of Scholarly Communications just a day before the Chronicle piece. UC’s post outlines the differences between scholarly social networking platforms (like Academia.edu) and institutional repositories—university-specific platforms that make scholarship openly available. They stress that academic social networking sites do not actually fulfill open access requirements that more research funding agencies are imposing on authors. At Florida State, University Libraries hosts and manages a Research Repository, engaging the campus community in questions of access, impact, and shared scholarly goals. Repositories like DigiNole create the opportunity for easier access to scholarly work, meaning that more people can download and cite it, unlike Academia.edu and ResearchGate, which both require log-ins to view material in full.