“I post my articles on academia.edu, why would I submit them to the Dartmouth Academic Commons once it is available?” This is a question that we hear, pretty consistently, in the Scholarly Communication Program when we talk about the development of our institutional repository and how it will be a service for preserving and sharing openly Dartmouth’s scholarly output. In general, scholars have had positive things to say about academia.edu, even after they learn that the site is commercial (the domain name confuses that a bit) and that they claim non-exclusive license to do whatever they want with your content once you post it.
Academia.edu: “By making any Member Content available through the Site or Services, you hereby grant to Academia.edu a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, sublicenseable, perpetual, royalty-free license to reproduce, modify for formatting purposes, prepare derivative works based upon, publicly display, publicly perform, distribute, and otherwise use your Member Content in connection with operating and providing the Services and Content to you and to other Members.”
But the tides might be shifting…Corrine Ruff recently published “Scholars Criticize Academia.edu Proposal to Charge Authors for Recommendations” which sheds some light on a flurry of tweets this week debating the intentions of academia.edu. The event that sparked the tweets (#deleteacademiaedu) was an email from academia.edu to a scholar, which asked whether they would be willing to pay a fee to have the academia.edu board of directors consider the scholar’s content for recommendation, which would likely boost readership. The scholar suspected this was a scam and tweeted about it. Turns out this was not a scam, and has the scholarly community reconsidering whether academia.edu best serves their best interest as a commercial service.
Our response to the question:”I post my articles on academia.edu, why would I submit them to the Dartmouth Academic Commons once it is available?” has not always easy to navigate because people should be free to choose where are how they share the stuff that they own. Right? And if lots of people are doing it, individuals won’t be harmed, right? I get that. I feel safer when I ignore the “Do Not Walk” sign if I’m doing it with 40 people, but am less confident about it when I’m attempting it alone. But, this recent conversation happening via social media is digging into the other ideas that we try to bring forward about academia.edu and other sites like it:
- As a non-profit institutions will not sell your data, seek to make money from your scholarly work, post advertisements, or overload your inbox with emails.
- Academia.edu may or may not exist in 10 years. Institutions building open repositories have commitment to long-term preservation of their scholarly output and typically the resources to sustain it.
- Dartmouth and other institutions are implementing open access policies that evidence a strong commitment to making content openly available. These are not-for-profit endeavors that are designed to facilitate access to information that will progress research and scholarship globally.
These are solid reasons, but as we’ve seen this week, the conversations that swirl around these issues make the most impact.