Which universities have the most Academia users?

The Academia Team
Nov 23, 2016 · 4 min read
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University of Oxford, one of the many universities on Academia

Academia hosts a global community of faculty members, students, independent researchers, and other academics. Over 45 million people have joined the site, and more than 7 million of them have listed a university or other organization that they’re affiliated with. In all, more than 130,000 universities in over 80 countries are represented on Academia.

Given the diversity of places where Academia’s users come from, a natural question is, which universities have the largest presence on the site? Searching for a university’s name brings up its current user count, but there’s no easy way to compare universities on the site itself. So we dug into our data to find out what the top universities are on Academia.

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The university rankings look very different depending on which users we include, so we’ll answer three versions of the question above:

  • Which universities are the most common among all Academia users?
  • What are the top universities among people who joined the site recently?
  • Which universities do the most active users come from?

The top universities among all Academia users

The graph below shows the top 20 universities among all Academia users (as of November 1) who have listed affiliations, broken down by position. The university with the largest presence on the site is the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) with about 36,000 Academia users, half of whom are alumni of the university. For comparison, UNAM currently has about 350,000 students and an academic staff of almost 40,000. Next on the list are Anna University (India) and two Indonesian universities, the University of Indonesia and Gadjah Mada University, each with about 24,000 to 26,000 users. Several universities with 10,000 to 20,000 users each round out the list, including 5 more in Southeast Asia and India, 4 in the UK, 3 in the US and Canada, 3 in South America, and 1 in Europe.

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Most of these universities have many Academia users who are students (both undergraduate and graduate), faculty members, or other department members. The number of alumni from each university varies widely, and in general there are few postdocs, adjuncts, or emeritus professors.

The fastest growing universities on Academia

Which universities are currently growing the fastest on Academia? Among all users who joined in October 2016 (about 1.5 million, including 51,000 with affiliations), the top 20 universities are shown in the graph below. This list of universities is similar to the first one in many ways: UNAM is still at the top of the list, and all of the top 8 for October are among the top 20 all time. The rest of the list shows rapid growth from several universities in Asia, Europe, and Africa that don’t already have large populations of users on Academia. Compared with all Academia users, more of the users who signed up in October are students and fewer are faculty members or other department members, although there are some exceptions: for Umm Al-Qura University (Saudi Arabia) and the University of Dhaka (Bangladesh), the majority of new users are faculty members. We’re only looking at each user’s primary affiliation here, so it’s possible that some of the users who signed up several years ago were students when they joined but are now faculty members or hold another more advanced position.

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The top universities among active users

Finally, let’s look at which universities have the most people who are currently active on Academia. There are many possible ways to define activity on the site; here we’ll include anyone who clicked on at least one link on Academia on 15 or more separate days in October 2016 and had already joined the site before the start of the month. This gives us about 22,000 people, over 19,000 of whom have listed university affiliations and positions. In the graph below of the top 20 universities among these active users, we see some of the same universities that appeared in the previous lists. However, there are also many European universities (and a couple in the US) with large shares of active users despite ranking lower in total user counts. The typical positions of active users at these universities are different, too, with many more faculty members, department members, and postdocs, and far fewer undergraduates.

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Splitting the Academia community by university affiliation and position is just one way to look at who’s using the site, but there are plenty of others that we plan to explore and write about in the future. If there’s another question about Academia’s network of users and papers that you’d like to know the answer to, let us know in the comments.

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