High Five – Academia.edu

From Bob GilesHigh Five from Handshake 2.0:

Following completion of his PhD on the philosophy of perception from Oxford, Dr. Richard Price, with a team from Stanford and Cambridge, launched a website, Academia.edu, which:

  • Shows academics around the world structured in a "tree" format, displayed according to their departmental and institutional affiliations.

  • Enables academics to see news on the latest research in their area – the latest people, papers and talks.

Academia.edu will eventually list every academic in the world – Faculty Members, Post-Docs, Graduate Students, and even Independent Researchers - potentially providing access to intellectual resources for many uses. More than 15,000 are now listed.  An amazing site, requiring structuring knowledge, and creating a vast, new social network, perhaps a new community.


Robert H. Giles, Jr. writes High Five for Handshake 2.0, a business news and Web 2.0 public relations services enterprise of Handshake Media, Incorporated, a member company of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks. 

The opinions Robert Giles expresses are solely his own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients. 

Feel free to follow Robert H. Giles, Jr. on Twitter @Bob_Giles

Robert H. Giles, Jr. is a Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus with a vision for a rural land management system.  He writes two blogs, The Survivalists and Faunal Force

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  1. Alex Edelman says:

    In terms of finding research relevant to your academic area, what advantage does this method have over more traditional ways of communicating, like academic journals?

  2. By entering a topic of research interest you can find the names, affiliations, and locations of other academics involved with the same and related topics. Some of these may not have recent publications, attended conferences, etc. The system may open doors to useful ideas, assistance, sharing, and publications. The linkages provided within departments and fields of interest go beyond the traditional methods.

  3. As a seeker of authoritative commentary on topics upon which I write, I hope to use Academia.edu to contact experts for quotes that corroborate sources I’m citing, or expand them.

  4. There are tons of these “social networks for academics” out there, but none of them are really taking off. The reason a “LinkedIn for scientists” won’t work is that we already have a LinkedIn, and it works just fine. See a related comment thread here. The most successful academic collaborations using an online social network I’m aware of so far have occurred through the Life Scientists room on Friendfeed.

    If you ask an academic, they’re decidedly NOT clamoring for yet another site where they can fill out a profile and establish a network, rather they’re looking for tools that save them time and provide value up-front. One such tool is Mendeley, which even if you don’t use the collaborative features, still manages your bibliography for you and indexes and organizes your PDFs. We should be thinking along the lines of what networks develop around the existing structures in the literature, not trying to impose some external organization on it.

    Another issue specific to the site mentioned is that researchers today often have multiple affiliations, a structure that’s better represented as a “social graph” than as a tree.

  5. With the “Follow” tool on Academia.edu, users can stay abreast of what academics they are following are doing, all in one place, instead of independently keeping track of each academic. This feature obviously saves time and provides value. There are other features that “provide value up-front,” such as the Keywords feature that allows researchers to monitor interest in their work.
    I find it hard to believe that researchers, who spend years attaining their degrees, would be so so short-sighted as to believe that taking a few minutes to create a profile would be too much of an investment, especially if that investment will save them time in the not-so-long-run.
    There are many unique features to Academia.edu and new ones are being added. For example, the “Papers I’ve Read” feature was recently added, with the idea that papers which people in whose research users have an interest have read might prove very useful to them as well. The site is not yet a perfect product, but it is well on its way, and the Academia team is dedicated to making it a useful, time-saving tool.

  6. Robert Giles says:

    The “existing structures in the literature” often need help from expert librarians to use the literature successfully, and this system offers additional access. It is not imposing some external organization on the literature.
    The old challenges of syntheses, of forming new relationships, of inter-disciplinary work are still with us. This system might help.

  7. Getting adequate scientific information remains a challenge. Note the recent post http://handshake20arc.wpengine.com/2009/05/a-tour-of-the-history-of-information.html

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