No, It’s not a silly question.
Have you recently been asked if you have a personal academic website, and now you’re quickly searching to find what that even is? Well look no further, let’s break it down. It’s all in the name.
This means that this website is about you, and only you. It should cover who you are, what your interests are, what you’re working. It can include any committees or groups or projects you’re a part of, but it shouldn’t be about them.
Not only should it cover you, it should be owned by you. Your personal academic website is yours, you should own it. It shouldn’t be able to be taken away from you if you move jobs or decide to take a break from social media.
This isn’t your Facebook. Whilst it’s personal, it shouldn’t be too personal. If you have a blog it probably shouldn’t cover what you had for tea, or your trip to the in-laws. It should cover what you the academic. Everything related to you and your research can live here, but always remember that your audience isn’t friends and family, it’s other academic colleagues and potential employers.
Your personal academic website should be a standalone entity. By that I mean, it’s not a profile on a social network, or a list of your publications, or your academic profile on your employers website. It’s a website with a homepage, pictures, links, subpages, maybe a blog if you’re feeling brave. It should ideally have it’s own URL, not a subdomain of another website (I cover this in more detail here).
To summarise, your personal academic website is your homepage. It’s the first website that you want anyone who is looking for you to find. It’s about you and your research, and you own it. It’s clearly yours. It’s got your name on it.