Academia.edu: Social network or Academic Network?
Version of Record online: 21 NOV 2013
© 2013 ASIS&T
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Volume 65, Issue 4, pages 721–731, April 2014
How to Cite
Thelwall, M. and Kousha, K. (2014), Academia.edu: Social network or Academic Network?. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65: 721–731. doi: 10.1002/asi.23038
- Issue online: 12 MAR 2014
- Version of Record online: 21 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 31 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 31 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Received: 12 APR 2013
- ACUMEN. Grant Number: 266632
- scholarly communication
Academic social network sites Academia.edu and ResearchGate, and reference sharing sites Mendeley, Bibsonomy, Zotero, and CiteULike, give scholars the ability to publicize their research outputs and connect with each other. With millions of users, these are a significant addition to the scholarly communication and academic information-seeking eco-structure. There is thus a need to understand the role that they play and the changes, if any, that they can make to the dynamics of academic careers. This article investigates attributes of philosophy scholars on Academia.edu, introducing a median-based, time-normalizing method to adjust for time delays in joining the site. In comparison to students, faculty tend to attract more profile views but female philosophers did not attract more profile views than did males, suggesting that academic capital drives philosophy uses of the site more than does friendship and networking. Secondary analyses of law, history, and computer science confirmed the faculty advantage (in terms of higher profile views) except for females in law and females in computer science. There was also a female advantage for both faculty and students in law and computer science as well as for history students. Hence, Academia.edu overall seems to reflect a hybrid of scholarly norms (the faculty advantage) and a female advantage that is suggestive of general social networking norms. Finally, traditional bibliometric measures did not correlate with any Academia.edu metrics for philosophers, perhaps because more senior academics use the site less extensively or because of the range informal scholarly activities that cannot be measured by bibliometric methods.