In the early Things, we explored Twitter and blogging, two great platforms for getting your research out to a wider audience. Although the potential reach is enormous – and therefore ideal for public engagement – sometimes you’ll want to communicate directly with your academic community.
Last week we looked at the importance of creating an institutional profile to improve your visibility and establish credibility. While such profiles are vital now, they’ll disappear once you graduate or move to another university. What you need in the longer term is a portable profile that links together your activities, achievements, and outputs.
In Thing 4, we’re going to find out about academic networking sites.
What are academic networking sites?
Academic networking sites are platforms allow you to maintain a profile, share your research, and discuss ideas with other researchers. Some of these sites are better known than others; one has become notorious.
Since its launch in 2018, Academia.edu has quickly grown to include over 60 million users. Despite the .edu domain name, it’s not actually run by an educational institution. And there lies the problem. The business model for Academia.edu relies on raising money from users’ activities – either by charging them to share their research, or charging visitors to access it. While this is no different from the way in which many academic journals are run, Academia’s business model remains opaque. And it’s definitely not Open Access. A brief perusal of the #DeleteAcademiaEdu hashtag will give you an idea of some of the revenue streams with which they’ve been experimenting.
Notwithstanding the many criticisms, Academia.edu remains the largest site of its kind, dwarfing commercial competitors such as ResearchGate. There’s still a case for keeping your profile if that’s where most of your community as based. However, if the exodus continues, you might find that the important connections are happening elsewhere.
Some academics have called for co-operation between international universities to develop their own Open Access site. This is certainly an excellent idea. In practice, it would take a lot of time, money, and an unimaginable number of meetings to get anything agreed. Happily, in the meantime an alternative has emerged, at least for those of us in the Arts & Humanities.
Introducing Humanities Commons
Humanities Commons (HC) is a nonprofit network where scholars can create a professional profile, discuss common interests, and share their work. It’s open to everyone, and there’s no charge to be a member or to access the repository. HC is a project of the Modern Language Association and funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The items you can upload include:
- Conference papers
- Journal articles
- Book abstracts
- Digital artefacts
Every item is assigned a DOI (Digital Object Identifier), making it easy to cite and share. You’ll also benefit from a long-term digital preservation storage system. It’s easy to then to share these outputs on Twitter.
On the profile, you can include your biography, a CV, a publications list, and links to your other social media accounts. There’s also an option to display your ORCID ID, which we discussed in Thing 3.
Another big advantage is that you can create your own WordPress blog through HC. Not only do they take care of all the techie stuff, you’ll also automatically appear in their blog directory.
There are currently more than 12,000 scholars on Humanities Commons, and it’s growing steadily. Why not take a look and see whether it’s right for you?
Ultimately, how and where you decide to network depends on your activities and longer-term plans. You could just opt to create a profile and repository on your own blog. For maximum exposure, though, and to participate in a community, do consider joining a site like Humanities Commons. You can, of course, join several sites, but do make sure you keep them all up-to-date.
Here are the suggested activities for this week:
- Explore Humanities Commons (you don’t need to register if you’re just browsing)
- Like what you see? Create a profile.
- Upload your conference papers or journal articles
- BONUS: Share links to your outputs on Twitter