As any scientist can tell you, there are thousands of scholarly journals out there. Some, like Science and Nature, are broad in scope, covering everything from human genetics to space. Others, like the Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, are a bit more specific. Unfortunately, the huge volume of research that gets published can made it tedious to keep track of the articles that are relevant to you. Academia.edu, a social network for researchers and other academics, thinks it has a fix.
Now, journal articles aren’t exactly hard to come by on the web. You can always search Google Scholar for whatever you’re looking for, some universities offer their own search tools, and there are plenty of topic-specific sites that can help you find relevant material. The problem, according to Academia.edu founder Richard Price, is that this content and the communities around them are very fragmented. So Academia.edu built a directory of as many journals as it could find.
The feature is pretty straightforward: head to Academia.edu, and you can browse through over 12,500 journals sorted by topic (here’s a listing of publications related to biology). You can opt to ‘follow’ your favorite publications, and relevant stories will start popping up in your Academia.edu news feed, so you don’t have to worry about looking them up yourself every month. Price also says that this feature ranks journals by how many followers it has, which could be used to gauge how influential (or at least, how popular) a given journal is.
It’s worth noting that many of these journal articles are not free; you’ll either have to pay for them (fees are often around $20-40), or you’ll have to be accessing them from a university campus that pays for a subscription to the periodical in question. This shouldn’t be a major problem for many of academia.edu’s users though, as they tend to be professors or dedicated researchers who have access to campus logins. It’s also worth noting that a UK site called Tictocs has built a database of journals, though Price says that the site doesn’t have a social graph component.
In other Academia news, Price says traffic has picked up significantly since last summer, and that the service is now up to 830,000 monthly uniques.