Could academics or acads be used to describe the university faculty as well as researchers? What is a better hypernym of academia, researchers and topic enthusiasts?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
In common usage, academics are those in academia or the academe, essentially, institutions of higher education and research. I would argue that it is inappropriate to apply the term to independent researchers or those in non-academic institutions.
Scholars would encompass those who apply scholarly discipline to their research; I might call an economist working for a public policy think tank a scholar but not an academic. More generically, experts are those with extensive knowledge of a subject regardless of approach, credentials or institutional affiliation. Authorities are those to whom people defer regarding knowledge of a subject.
An aficionado, connoisseur, or devotee is one who has cultivated a fine appreciation, although it is more common to apply these terms to enthusiasts of tangible items (e.g. an eye for historical artwork) as opposed to a discipline or field of study (e.g. a mind for the history of art).
Particular fields or areas of interest may have their own specific terminology as well. A Star Trek buff, for example, is a Trekkie.
The word academia fits:
Academia encompasses faculty and researchers (who are often one and the same). In bygone days, academia may have included dedicated amateurs (in observational astronomy, for example), but it's less likely in these hyper-specialized times.
Also consider this statement from Columbia University's Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics:
Academics denotes academic subjects, courses and studies. Academic may denote a teacher in a college or university. You may use academia or university to refer to academic environment and/or community.