Building an Online Profile to Benefit your Academic Career

By Jane O’Hara

Creating your own online presence can have many benefits: first of all, it has evolved into a modern resume or CV, where all your educational and employment information can be viewed. It is useful to have a positive professional presence that is easily accessible at the click of a mouse, providing consistent details about your research interests or other career achievements. The idea is to consolidate all of this information so it can readily be called upon to showcase you and your professional life.

Advantages to an online profile are that, once generated, the site can be updated regularly with new information, for example the award of a grant, a conference where you presented research data, or a paper you have just published. Also, the specific information you decide to present can be controlled, in fact you can manage your personal ‘brand’ in the way you wish.
An online profile can be used to keep peers abreast of your professional activities and connect you with a wider community. It can also benefit you in searching for a job, either in your current career field or a new one.

Below are some strategies and online tools!

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a top tool these days for business networking and making professional contacts. It allows you to stay informed of what others in your field are up to, as it sends updates by email when your contacts add information to their profiles. Having relevant keywords on your profile means that potential employers can search for you and find you more easily; conversely if you are job seeking you can leverage your established network of contacts to support your search.

Lab/Departmental Website

A site detailing everything going on in a lab group such as research interests, current studies, list of publications etc., is a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to check out your lab, like prospective students or collaborators. Each lab member could have their own tab, making it easy to direct interested parties there and show how each individual’s research fits into the lab (or department) as a whole.

Personal Academic Sites

As above, but this is more useful for listing all of your academic and related interests and achievements to date, not solely those associated with your current position. This one can move with you wherever you may be working at a given time.
Academia is a social networking site for academics, where you can upload journal articles, even unpublished drafts, and connect with other researchers in similar areas of interest. Mendeley is a reference management site that doubles as an online social group. According to their Terms of Use, the functions of Mendeley are: “To assist you in the cataloguing and managing of your academic papers and articles…; to share your academic and scientific knowledge with selected colleagues; to discover academic knowledge and enable detailed search of academic papers; and to put you in touch with like-minded people and facilitate research projects.”

Blogs or Podcasts

Creating blog posts or podcasts is a great way to showcase your research. These methods have the dual advantages of getting your message out to a wider audience than through traditional published journal articles, in addition to the fact that new information can be added regularly.

Social Media

Using social media sites such as Twitter and Pinterest can help you keep up-to-date on the latest research as it happens. They can also help you to network with people in your field of interest (see website below about how academics can get the most out of Twitter).

More Online Resources to help you get started:
UBC Library:Building Your Academic Profile
BishopBlog: A gentle introduction to Twitter for the apprehensive academic