Go on, Google yourself.
Think back to when you first started out in academia (that might be right now), when you were first looking into supervisors, or academics at an institution you were joining, or the name of lecturer or someone delivering an interesting keynote. What did you do? Googled them, right? Well it’s a simple fact that somewhere along the line someone is going to Google you too. Try it now, search your name, what comes up top? If it isn’t already, it should be your personal academic website.
If you’ve only just heard about personal academic websites and you’re not quite sure what one is, I’ve covered that in this article.
Personal academic website vs Social network
What does it meant to have a website in 2020? Why would you need one? Isn’t your LinkedIn and Twitter enough? Well, no.
It’s easy to get confused – Twitter is a website, right? You can head over to twitter.com/yourprofile, you see a picture of yourself, you’ve written a blurb, you’ve posted some updates, shared some links, engaged in conversation – what more do you need?
Then you’ve got your LinkedIn, it has all of your education, degrees, placements, work history. It’s a bit more professional than your Twitter, acts a bit like a CV, it’s where you can make connections to advance your career.
And what about your research? Well you’ve got ResearchGate. That’s where your publications are and where people can go to find out about your work. Simple.
But it’s not.
We’ve already touched on 3 different websites, all with your information on it, but what brings it all together? Where do people go to find everything there is to know about you.
But my University has given me space on their website
Well this is great. You should absolutely be making the most of any web space your Institution can provide. It’s likely you have a profile with them by default, even if you haven’t contributed to it, and it’s likely that this is what comes up top when you Google your name. It’s hard to forget though… you don’t own this space. If you decide at any point to move on in your career, this page disappears. All those links you sent to colleagues and friends, they no longer work. If you’ve posted it on your Twitter, or your LinkedIn, that will all need to be updated.
The simple fact is that you will most likely change institutions a few times in your career, especially if you’re reading this as a graduate student. It’s vital to establish an online presence as early as possible. To make sure that your website ranks top when you’re searched for. To make sure that you have full control of those top ranking websites, and that they come with you wherever you go.
Own your identity
Ownership of data and writing your own story are so incredibly important on the modern internet, where the first thing anyone does when they meet you is plug your name into Google. Do you want your personal Facebook page showing up first? A Spotify playlist, or a Pinterest profile? Or do you want your own personal academic website that you’ve carefully curated with all of the information that you’ve chosen to share, with easy access to your research, your publications, your social media, and your CV?
If you’re applying for any positions are grants then this is doubly important. No recruiter or grant director/principal investigator, wants to trawl through 3/4/5 websites just to get a full picture of who you are. They should be able to find this quickly and easily and what they find should be curated by you.
I know what you’re thinking – it’s too difficult or too expensive, but as I’ve shown before you can get set up with your personal academic website for the price of a coffee – so really, there’s no excuse. So the next time you ask yourself “do I need a personal academic website?” – the answer is yes, yes I do.