UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Academia.edu Announces Analytics! But How Should Researchers Interpret the Findings?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 16 August 2012

Catching up with overnight tweets on a wet morning at the bus stop

At 7.30 am I was waiting in the rain for my bus to work. As normal I was catching up with the tweets I’d received overnight and had downloaded to my iPod Touch before leaving home. One of the tweets which was particularly interesting was from @KeitaBando. I met Keita, Digital Repository Librarian and Coordinator for Scholarly Communication for the My Open Archive service, at the Open Repositories OR 2012 conference recently, following his poster presentation on Current and Future Effects of Social Media-Based Metrics on Open Access and IRs. Keitatweet announced news of relevance to many who attended the OR12 conference:

http://Academia.edu Blog: Announcing @academia Analytics http://blog.academia.edu/post/29490656413/announcing-academia-edu-analytics

Since one of the papers I had submitted to the OR 2012 conference asked “Can LinkedIn and Academic.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” this announcement was of particular interest to me.

The blog post Announcing Academia.edu Analytics described how:

Today we are announcing the release of Academia.edu’s Analytics Dashboard [which] allows academics to view the real-time impact of their research.

The development is based on the changing environment provided by the Web:

Increasingly, the primary consumption experience for scientific content is the web, and yet scientists have not generally been aware of the metrics around this consumption. If you ask a Harvard biology professor with 200 publications how many downloads she experienced in the last 30 days, typically she will not know.

Academia.edu’s Analytics Dashboard is changing this. It allows an academic to understand in sophisticated detail how their research is being used by the academic community. It shows them countries that are sending them the most traffic, search engines and other sites that are sending them the most traffic, and overall profile views and document views. 

What does the new service tell me about my papers? It seems that on 11 August 2012 there were 5 views of my items available on Academia.edu and over the last 230 days there had been a total of 9 views of information about my papers and 11 views of my profile on Academia.edu.

Since the analytics service “allows academics to view the real-time impact of their research” we can explore the individual visits:

and then no other activities until 22.00 on 11 August when someone from Argentina read information about the paper on Open Metrics for Open Repositories.

Clearly such numbers are underwhelming! This would therefore seem to provide evidence which suggests that the question Jenny Delasalle and myself posed in our paper “Can LinkedIn and Academic.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” would be “No” in the case of Academia.edu.

Since the metadata I have uploaded to Academia.edu provides a link to papers hosted on Opus, the University of Bath repository, it will be interested to make comparisons with the numbers of downloads of papers hosted on Opus over a similar period.

Since the Opus service provides statistics on a monthly basis it was not possible to make a direct comparison. However looking for the download statistics for my papers during July 2012 I found that there had been a total of 679 downloads with the top two downloads which, as might be expected, were of my most recent two papers, having been downloaded a total of 184 times.

From these personal experiences we might conclude that Academia.edu is not a significant driver of traffic to my papers and it might therefore be questionable as to whether it is worth creating a profile in the service and adding links to one’s papers. I think it would be a mistake to draw such conclusions, for the following reasons:

  • These experiences may not be replicated by others.
  • I have chosen to replicate my research profile across a number of services, including MendeleyLinkedIn and ResearcherGate as well as Academia.edu. I would expect some of these services to be widely used, while others are less-well used.
  • Using a variety of researcher profiling services with links to my papers will enhance the ‘Google juice’ for the papers (and the repository). Use of these services can therefore enhance the discoverability of the papers for people who use Google – and this is likely to be the majority of people!

I’d be interested to hear about other people’s experiences of Academia.edu. Is anybody finding that their pages on the service are being well-used?


Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

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