Academia, Inc.
Academia.edu logo.svg
Screenshot of Academia.edu (26 Dec 2017).PNG
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
Platform for sharing research papers
Available inEnglish
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Richard Price
Users71 million[2]
LaunchedSeptember 2008
Current statusActive

Academia.edu is an American commercial social networking website for academics. It began as a free and open repository of academic journal articles and was awarded a .edu domain name. However, Academia.edu now charges fees to put authors in contact with their readers.[citation needed][clarification needed]

The site was launched in September 2008.[3][4]


Academia.edu was founded by Richard Price, who raised $600,000 from Spark Ventures, HOWZAT Partners, Brent Hoberman, and others.[5]

In November 2011, Academia.edu raised $4.5 million from Spark Capital and True Ventures.[5] Before that, it had raised $2.2 million from Spark Ventures and a range of angel investors including Mark Shuttleworth, Thomas Lehrman, and Rupert Pennant-Rea.[5] In September 2013, the company raised $11.1 million from Khosla Ventures, True Ventures, Spark Ventures, Spark Capital and Rupert Pennant-Ream,[6] bringing its total equity funding to $17.7 million.[7][8]

On its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company uses the legal name Academia Inc.[7]

Months after its acquisition of Academia.edu rival Mendeley, Elsevier sent thousands of takedown notices to Academia.edu, a practice that has since ceased, following widespread complaint by academics, according to Academia.edu founder and chief executive Richard Price.[9][10]


Academia.edu's competitors include ResearchGate, Google Scholar and Mendeley.[11] Compared to ResearchGate, in 2016 Academia.edu reportedly had more registered users (about 34 million versus 11 million[12]) and higher web traffic, but ResearchGate was substantially larger in terms of active usage by researchers. As of 2020, the traffic ranks had reversed, with ResearchGate being a top 150–200 website in the global Alexa ranks, versus a position in the 200–300 range for Academia.edu.[citation needed]

Unpaywall, which collects data about open access versions of academic publications and provides easy access to them, is considered a competitor to Academia.edu for the users who prefer more legally sound green open access hosts.[13]


Academia.edu is not a university or institution for higher learning and so under current standards it would not qualify for the ".edu" top-level domain. However, the domain name "Academia.edu" was registered in 1999, before the regulations required .edu domain names to be held solely by accredited post-secondary institutions. All .edu domain names registered before 2001 were grandfathered in, even if not an accredited post-secondary institution.[14][15]

A critic, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, the director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association, said she found the use of the ".edu" domain name by Academia.edu to be "extremely problematic", since it might mislead users into thinking the site is part of an accredited educational institution rather than a for-profit company.[15]

Academia.edu claims it supports the open science or open access movements and, in particular, instant distribution of research, and a peer-review system that occurs alongside distribution, instead of before it.[16] Accordingly, the company stated its opposition to the proposed (since withdrawn) 2011 U.S. Research Works Act, which would have prevented open-access mandates in the U.S.[17]

However, Academia.edu is not an open access repository and is not recommended as a way to pursue green open access by Peter Suber and experts, who instead invite researchers to use field-specific repositories or general-purpose repositories like Zenodo.[18]

In early 2016, some users reported having received e-mails from Academia.edu where they were asked if they would be interested in paying a fee to have their papers recommended by the website's editors.[19] This led some users to start a campaign encouraging users to cancel their Academia.edu accounts.[20]

Other criticisms include the fact that Academia.edu uses a vendor lock-in model: "It's up to Academia.edu to decide what you can and can't do with the information you've given them, and they're not likely to make it easy for alternative methods to access".[20] This is in reference to the fact that, although papers can be read by non-users, a free account is needed in order to download papers: "you need to be logged in to do most of the useful things on the site (even as a casual reader)".[20]

In December 2016, Academia.edu announced new premium features that includes data analytics on work and the professional rank of the viewers,[21] which have also received criticism.[22][23][24]


  1. ^ "Our Mission". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  2. ^ Academia.edu. "Hiring". Retrieved 2018-12-15.
  3. ^ Cutler, Kim-Mai. "Academia.Edu Overhauls Profiles As The Onus Falls On Researchers To Manage Their Personal Brands". Techcrunch. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  4. ^ Academia.edu. "About". Retrieved 2019-01-26.
  5. ^ a b c "Academia.edu | CrunchBase Profile". Crunchbase.com. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  6. ^ "About Academia.edu". Academia.edu. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  7. ^ a b "A social networking site is not an open access repository". University of California Office of Scholarly Communication. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Academia.edu". Crunchbase. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  9. ^ Parr, Chris (June 12, 2014). "Sharing is a way of life for millions on Academia.edu". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  10. ^ Howard, Jennifer (December 6, 2013). "Posting Your Latest Article? You Might Have to Take It Down". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  11. ^ Matthews, David (7 April 2016). "Do academic social networks share academics' interests?". Times Higher Education. Archived from the original on 2016-04-17. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  12. ^ Satariano, Adam (15 November 2016). "Bill Gates-Backed Research Network Targets Advertising Revenue". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 2016-11-30. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  13. ^ Dhakal, Kerry (15 April 2019). "Unpaywall". Journal of the Medical Library Association. 107 (2): 286–288. doi:10.5195/jmla.2019.650. PMC 6466485.
  14. ^ "edu Policy Information". Net.educause.edu. 2001-10-29. Archived from the original on 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  15. ^ a b McKenna, Laura (17 December 2015). "The Convoluted Profits of Academic Publishing". The Atlantic.
  16. ^ Richard Price (2012-02-05). "The Future of Peer Review". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  17. ^ Richard Price (2012-02-15). "The Dangerous "Research Works Act"". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  18. ^ Peter Suber (2016). "Open Access book §10 self help".
  19. ^ "Scholars Criticize Academia.edu Proposal to Charge Authors for Recommendations". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2016-01-29. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  20. ^ a b c "Should you #DeleteAcademiaEdu? On the role of commercial services in scholarly communication". Impact of Social Sciences. 2016-02-01. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  21. ^ Team, The Academia edu (2016-12-20). "How do people find your papers? Academia.edu Introduces a New Premium Feature". Medium. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  22. ^ Bond, Sarah. "Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  23. ^ "Academia, Not Edu". Planned Obsolescence. 2015-10-26. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  24. ^ "The end of Academia.edu: how business takes over, again". diggit magazine. 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2017-05-02.

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