Please, don't put your papers on

Every now and then, I come across a link to a paper on that looks interesting. I myself don't have an account on, and I don't want one. This means that in order to look at the paper, I have to go through the following process.

  1. I click "Download (pdf)".
  2. I get confronted with the message: "You must be logged in to download". I can choose to "connect" with Facebook or Google or create an account manually.
  3. I choose the third option, since I don't want to access my Google profile (and I don't have a Facebook account).
  4. Now I have to fill in a form asking for "First Name", "Last Name", "Email" and "Password". I enter random expletives in all the fields because I don't want an academia account, I just want to see the bloody paper.
  5. After submitting that form, I get asked whether I have coauthored a paper in a peer-reviewed journal. I choose "No", fearing that otherwise I'll have to answer more questions about those papers.
  6. Next I'm asked to upload my papers. I don't want to upload any papers, so I click "Skip this step".
  7. Next I have to fill in my university affiliation: "University", "URL", "Department", "Position". I enter random expletives.
  8. Next comes a form where I have to enter my "Research Interests". I enter some expletives. (Turns out my expletives are a popular research interest, shared with 32 others.)
  9. Next I'm told again to "connect" with Facebook, even though I already chose not to at the start. I click "I don't have a Facebook account".
  10. Now, finally, I am presented with a link to the paper I wanted to have a look at.

As you can imagine, I rarely go through all that hassle. Usually I look around if I can find the paper somewhere else and give up if I can't.

I'm sure offers some nice gimmicks. But if you want your papers to be read, please please please put them somewhere else. Making your own website is increadibly easy these days, and free. Weebly is a popular service -- just to pick one, although I haven't tried it myself. You also have a homepage at your university where you can probably add your papers. If all fails, you can easily create a profile on PhilPapers and upload your papers there.

It's not just about me and other academics who don't have an account on Imagine a miracle happens and someone from outside academia would like to check out your paper: a policy-maker, a teacher, an engineer, an interested person on the Clapham omnibus. Do you think they will set up a profile on, which is clearly not even targeted at non-academics? Hardly. They will never make it to your paper.

Or think of the poor computer programs that would like to read your papers. Part of PhilPapers, for example, is a program that regularly scans the homepages of philosophers for new papers. That program (which I wrote) will never see your papers on because it doesn't have an profile and doesn't know how to set one up.

So, please.


# on 03 April 2015, 08:33

Hear, hear!

# on 04 April 2015, 21:15

But isn't that a reason to post your papers somewhere else as well, rather than an argument not to put your papers on

# on 04 April 2015, 21:51

Mostly, yes. I was thinking that few people want to manually update several lists of their papers. There would also still be the problem that potential readers who come across the link to (which has a very high page rank on google) would have to manually search for alternative versions/locations of the paper. That's still a hassle and an access barrier, although not nearly as bad.

# on 04 April 2015, 22:52

What freaked me out was when It suggested a picture of my three year old as an avatar for me. Clearly, it was pulling all Kinds of data together to build a profile of me. I was outraged and deleted my profile, and tweeted to let them know I thought their behaviour was appalling. But it sounds like from your story that it's all part of their business.

# on 04 April 2015, 23:25

OK, Wo, I just deleted my account. Linked to this page in the box where they asked for my reasons. :)

# on 04 April 2015, 23:47

Just putting papers somewhere else or uploading them on your website is not ideal. The best way to archive papers for free open access is to use an institutional digital repository at one's institution (e.g., mine is at the University of Kansas: or, lacking one, a digital repository like like Figshare. The advantages to an IDR are that the metadata should be consistent and the item will be permanently curated, including updating the medium in which it is stored. can be a useful tool (among others) to point readers to one's opus, but should not contain the papers themselves, rather, it should link back to a single copy in a digital repository. With some careful planning, one can achieve a consistent system for maximizing research visibility. One possible solution:

# on 05 April 2015, 21:20

I completely agree with Wo.

One benefit of PhilPapers no one mentioned is that you can embed a list of your works provided by PhilPapers on your personal or departmental web site, saving you the pain of maintaining separate lists. Also, since PhilPapers will gather data about and credit you your publications automatically, you have essentially nothing to do but upload the open access copies. PhilPapers' Open Access Archive, which is the largest in the field, is as open and standard-compliant as institutional repositories, and its content has a lot more visibility.

# on 06 April 2015, 02:49

Oh my god you have such terrible problems! I feel for you...

# on 06 April 2015, 17:51

I don't like's interface nor do I like using it as a place to archive, but I do put papers on there because it gets a lot of traffic. I always put my papers both on my website and academia (and usually philpapers). I always put an external link on the academia upload.

I agree that using *only* is a mistake, but I just use it as a way to reach a larger audience. I don't really like academia , so if anyone has a reason why I shouldn't use it (in the way I described), then I'd be happy to hear it.

# on 08 April 2015, 02:15

I suspect that at least some of the uploads (as with researchgate) are publisher copies that the uploaders are legally unsure of uploading outside a 'gated community' (not that this actually makes much legal difference as far as I know).

# on 09 April 2015, 04:57

Wo, I feel your pain. Can I suggest though that instead of *not using*, people write to them/tweet them, to get them to change their policy? Because while obviously it is pretty easy to set up one's own website, it does inevitably become a time-sink (this from experience). And there are obvious advantages to having a network. And academia does very well on SEO. Philpapers is ok, but does have issues—in particular, if you add a draft to the index, it'll stay in the index. You can submit a request to get it removed, but that request may or may not be acted upon.

In the meantime, it's possible to add a link to each file, which allows downloads off-site, e.g. from dropbox (can also link to a folder, which you can update with the latest version of a draft, which is particularly efficient). At the moment, that link is hidden away (after you've dismissed the FB splashscreen, then clicked on the paper that interests you, top left of the file it will have a dropdown menu with links if there are more than one [it's where the link to the publisher's version usually goes]). If Academia.Edu were just to place this link on an equal footing with the 'Download' link then all problems would be solved (except for the naff FB splashscreen). So: readers of Wo's Wlog: just tweet @academia to get them to promote the other download links, and we're all in business (and they can keep track of the number of clicks, which is another boon). And ask them to make it less hideous, too.

# on 09 April 2015, 08:06

Bizarre whinge. Register once, and you go from step 2 to 10 every time thereafter. isn't perfect, but it offers excellent exposure for scholarly work. Asking everyone to spend time making their own website instead is ridiculous.

# on 09 April 2015, 21:39

I'm with Wo. I registered once with Academia, got a lot of spam (maybe not TECHNICALLY spam: maybe I failed to uncheck some opt-out boxes), and deregistered.

It's hard to make a pretty website, but not hard to make a website. And even an ugly website beats having readers deal with

All you really need is index.html which can be something like:
<h1>Papers by My Name</h1>
<li><a href="paper1.pdf">Paper 1 title</a></li>
<li><a href="paper2.html">Paper 3 title</a></li>
<li><a href="paper3.pdf">Paper 3 title</a></li>
Then put it with paper1.pdf, paper2.html and paper3.pdf in some directory on your computer, and upload the contents of the directory to a server. If you set things up efficiently, to upload a new paper, you just put the paper in the director, open index.html with a text editor, copy a line to a new one, edit title and link, and then run some script or drag it all into an sftp client, and it's up.

And because it's super simple, it loads fast even for a third-world dial-up user.

# on 12 April 2015, 23:15

Wo, thanks for raising these issues. A few points:

- We have recently completed a study, looking at a sample size of 44,689 papers over 5 years, showing that uploading a paper to generates significantly more citations than uploading to a personal homepage. We believe this is because of the increased exposure the paper gets by being on a network, and because of the 35 million people who visit the site each month looking for papers. We’ll be releasing the paper and data shortly.

- From the perspective of open access, it may seem that it’s better for open access if a paper can be downloaded without requiring sign-up. However, we have found that 90% of the 5.5 million papers uploaded to have come from people who signed up to download a paper, and then later decided to upload their own papers to their profile. We think that people signing up when downloading a paper has led to a few million more papers online than there otherwise would be.

- Creating an account on is free, and it takes a couple of minutes. Once you have an account, downloading a paper is instant.

Richard Price (founder,

# on 13 April 2015, 01:09

Judging from some of the comments, I guess I didn't make my point very clear. I didn't mean to complain that I have to go through steps 1-10 every time I want to read a paper on As I said, I almost never go through that process. I simply don't read papers on

The problem I wanted to point out is that researchers who put their papers on (especially if they don't also put them at another highly visible location) effectively ban three groups of readers from accessing these papers:

(1) academics like myself who (for whatever reason) don't want an account,

(2) non-academics (whose taxes largely fund our research),

(3) computer programs.

In my view, this is a good reason not to put papers on

# on 13 April 2015, 18:53

Wo - a few points:

- You can read a paper on without downloading it. A large proportion of the papers on are read this way.

- The citation advantage to posting a paper to suggests that your situation of not reading papers online and not creating accounts is atypical.

- Many academics on report that their work on is picked up in media outlets. A professor wrote into us the other day saying "National Geographic channel made a documentary for my research due to a paper posted on"

Another professor wrote "I believe that because of, my work has reached many more people than it otherwise would. This has had fringe benefits for me, of course: I have been invited all over the world to talk, been translated into other languages, and even been flown to NYC to be in a film about Bruce Lee – all because I shared my work on”

- Googlebot, Msnbot and other legitimate bots are allowed to index papers on, as outlined in the site's robots.txt file. If the PhilPapers bot wanted to index papers on, it would just have to follow the authorization procedure on, and then it would be authorized. All large sites have some kind of authorization procedure for bots, since badly behaved bots can bring a site down.

Richard Price (founder,

# on 19 April 2015, 22:33

Why academia when you have all the papers for free at philpapers?
That's where the music plays. Go Haggis!

# on 29 April 2015, 15:52

I understand the argument and why you're making it but, does allow you to read the paper without clicking download.

Also, I have my papers in both places, my personal site AND - why do I use it? Because thousands of people access and read my work there every day from all over the world (the analytics show me this), they find my work there because it's part of a social network of academics and independent scholars, and others - and the tools on the site allow people to find work across disciplines easily.

It's also the first place I look for updated information about academic faculty and especially graduate students - because it's always more updated than department web sites (because users can update it themselves!).

Access to all of that information is provided without requiring an account. It's an extraordinarily useful tool, as vital to my research as my citation management software.

# on 28 May 2015, 23:50

This is a tempest in a teapot. The fact is that no one is ever going to impose one norm that everyone will follow. There are only going to be more and more multiple platforms. You'll live.

# on 29 July 2015, 06:59

Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounded pretty elaborate and so it worried me, as I'm thinking of moving to only having my papers there. So I opened a new browser, in which I'm not logged into There, when I searched for my name and "," it brought up my page with one request to sign in with FB. I clicked the X to say "no." It worked, and bam, I was there on my page with all my papers. It let me see all of my page, click on all of the links, open any paper to read, etc. The one thing it wants is for people to give some info before downloading papers. I see that there will be a few people unwilling to do that, but then, a) the default is to have to go to the library for a paper anyway, and b) the number of people unwilling to connect via Google or FB is a very small minority, at least among folks I know. Given that, online paper databases like are a matter of convenience. Plus, they network and share one's works with others who have similar interests. It's pretty useful.

Folks unwilling to connect via will have to go to the library, or just skip reading my paper, I guess. For the ease of cataloging and the networking power of, there doesn't seem to be a stronger alternative and the costs very sound small in number & severity. Just thinking this through. Thanks - and if you think I'm being too quick in any of this, I'm all ears. I'd really like to find the best solution to catalog my papers.

On Twitter @erictweber.

# on 20 October 2015, 00:34

@Richard Price
By requiring login to download, the papers uploaded to will not be index and searchable by Google Scholar. Why choose your site if you have options like Researchgate?

# on 23 October 2015, 01:23

Mr. Wo
According to the title of your post/paraenesis:
Have you been in or in
Best regards and breathe and take it easy...

Eliah Meyer ( unscathed user)

# on 16 November 2015, 14:11

Dear Mr. Wo,

After reading your post, I decided to remove all my papers from, and put them on PhilPapers. People keep telling me your post is obviously biased, a mere pro domo tirade, since you claim you wrote part of the PhilPapers program, and therefore perceive as a competitor. But I for one think that is nonsense, since, had this been the case, you would have started your post directly by saying you find in a conflict of interest, rather than disclosing that in the final paragraphs.

thanks again,
Dan (who gets paid for every sarcastic post)

# on 30 November 2015, 22:31

I similarly loathe, and do exactly the same thing. Commercial websites are always going to be optimized for making money. Insofar as their goals come apart from yours -- whether that be easy access to papers or not having your data scarfed up and used for god knows what -- you're going to be better off with your own website.

Institutional repositories aren't a great solution. Some of them are fine. Some of them are hideous, hard to navigate, and with poor design for discovery (the UK seems particularly bad in this regard). They all depend on the willingness of the institution to fund maintenance and generally competent IT staff (which is far from guaranteed). Few allow the kind of contextualizing and additional information that even a basic website provides. And if you change institutions, then you have a big hassle on your hands (especially if the new place doesn't have a repository, as many US institutions don't).

# on 01 December 2015, 09:48

It is too difficult to read texts on Not enough contrast, etc.
My problem is DMLA disease.

# on 02 December 2015, 05:11

. . .

Great getting insights into drawbacks to using, including Jacqueline Cousin mentioning creepy digital rights, just above here.

A problem I've faced using institutional storage, however, is that they can also be at the whim of under-resourced IT departments, and/or over-politicised-commercialised academic departments who wish to avoid offending donors, partners, etc.

Are there institutional storage sites that users know of that have a reputation for reliable and consistent access?

. . .

# on 31 December 2015, 08:17

A recent development with is a popup message that asks you to (as i read it) send your contacts list to them, "in order for your papers to reach more people".
Well, i have academics on my contacts list, and as colleagues i keep in touch with them anyway.
But does my plumber, and my nanna, and various other people on my list, need (a) to be notified of my academic papers that they are not interested in reading, or (b) to be subjected to whatever use academia puts these lists of email addresses?

Up until now i have been happy with academia. Now i get that message every time i log on. It offers two options
(1) Send them my email contacts, and
(2) Do it later
No possibility of "Stop ever sending me this again"

Still using academia, but without any of the original enthusiasm

# on 28 February 2016, 10:22

My account was hacked by a pornbot. I have the workd "Sexual Commerce" in a title. It's a nightmare.

# on 24 March 2016, 22:05

the main reason I no longer post on academia is the ammount of papers being deleted for no reason at all. Sharing even the simplest of content can get flagged up by others sharing similar items. I prefer to share my work with scribd and other sharing sites.

# on 26 March 2016, 21:30

I have nothing against academia. I also use Research gate. they are all good in their own styles

# on 11 April 2016, 17:18

So your whole tirade is based on a simple sign up process that one does only once and never again?

As for bots, legitimate bots are allowed on academia, they just have to follow an authorization process.

So your argument boils down to one or both of two options,

“Waah waah, I dont like Facebook (which is an optional signup option thats actually supposed to make the process you described above five times easier).


“Waah waah I hate Academia because it is way more successful than Philpapers which I wrote (as per your own statements)“

I suspect the latter, with a tinge of the former.

# on 04 July 2016, 20:14

Researchgate allows downloads without being logged in. So PhilPapers + Researchgate looks like a good combination.

It's sad that philpapers offers so little information (about downloads) and little interaction.

# on 18 August 2016, 10:50

Can't you people understand that there are people who want to read (and download for reading offline and archiving purposes) your papers but who DON'T WANT TO CREATE AN ACCOUNT ON ACADEMIA.EDU to let them squeeze personal data from them? It's as simple as that. is just another information-greedy commercial website who uses your creativity and knowledge to make profits in which you will not participate. And they use your papers as a bait to make people create more and more accounts so that they could then brag with their statistics in front of their sponsors. They also trick users into sharing their personal information from their Google+ / Facebook etc. profiles.
And the argument that it's so "easy" to make an account and that it's "free" anyway is just pathetic and full of lies: no, it's not free. If you’re getting something for free, then YOU are the product being sold. If euthanasia were for free, would you try it too? :P