of the activity around the world now takes place online. Researchers
store data online, communicate via e-mail, and of course, read scholarly
articles published online. But there is more online than just one’s
data. As with any other job, it’s very important for researchers to
control their own online presence. When someone enters your name into
Google, what will they find? What do you want them to find? Here are
some suggestions for improving your online visibility so that others
find the information you want them to see.
is a rapidly growing professional networking site. Many of you may
already have LinkedIn profiles, but it may be time to improve them to
maximize your impact. Your LinkedIn profile may very well be the top
item on a Google search using your name, so be sure that the information
there is accurate and engaging. Here are a few specific ideas:
- Add a professional-looking photograph of yourself. Profiles without
pictures are far less likely to be read. Use a photo that clearly shows
your face and fills the entire space available for the profile picture.
- Customize your profile’s URL to include your name. This extra step
will help increase traffic when people search for you online (for
example, my public profile URL is http://www.linkedin.com/in/benmudrak).
You should see your public profile URL underneath your picture on your
profile page. Click ‘edit’ to choose your own (e.g.,
- Be sure to share your publication list, important conference
presentations, editorial positions, etc. If it is important to you, you
can find an appropriate section on your profile. LinkedIn offers a
number of options for section headings, so choose the ones that fit you
best. You can also customize which parts of your profile can be seen by the public (your entire profile will be visible to any of your connections).
Twitter is increasingly popular among scientists
as a place to share opinions and recent publications, with instant
feedback possible from colleagues around the world (including people you
may never have the chance to talk to in person!). Consider signing up
for a Twitter account and connecting to the sea of colleagues, journals,
publishers, universities, and other groups already on Twitter. Some
- Choose a short user name! You only have 140 characters in each
tweet, and if someone wants to mention you, your name counts against
that limit. Make it easy by going as short as possible while still being
- Look for hashtags used in your field. You will encounter these
terms, which begin with the hash or pound symbol (#). Click on a hashtag
(such as #peerreview)
to find out what people are saying about that topic. Many conferences
also suggest a hashtag so you can see tweets about the event, even if
you’re not there!
- Use URL shorteners like bit.ly
to help save space when you are sending links. If you include short
links, you are more likely to be retweeted or mentioned by others.
Most scientists want to focus on their research when creating an online
profile. Specifically, the publication record is still the major
highlight of one’s professional CV. Here are a couple of sites that
specifically focus on your research. Creating and maintaining profiles
on these sites will help others become aware of your productivity and
help you see the impact your work has on the research community and
- ORCID: A non-profit organization, ORCID provides a unique identifier for each researcher.
This identifier helps make sure that you get credit for all your work,
even if the name you publish under changes for some reason. When signing
up for your ORCID number, you can fill in your profile to ensure that
all your work is represented.
- ImpactStory: Another non-profit, ImpactStory lets you create an online CV of all your research products,
not just published articles (data sets, websites, software, etc.). In
addition to demonstrating the full picture of your productivity in one
place, ImpactStory also provides information about how frequently your
work is cited, mentioned, and discussed around the web. You can even embed ImpactStory badges on your online CV or lab website.
- figshare: figshare is a repository where researchers can deposit any research output for public access.
Each object (e.g., a raw data set, movie, poster, or preprint) receives
a DOI, so it’s citable in peer-reviewed literature. Putting some of
your work on figshare is an excellent way to present your true expertise
to the research community (and provide access to data that others can
In addition to broad networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, there
are sites geared specifically toward investigators. These sites are not
as commonly visited as the big names in social media, but they still
represent an opportunity to discover new research (and sometimes
full-text articles), find collaborators, and maintain another online
profile that will show up when someone searches for you. Here are two
well known academic networking sites, but there are others, including
field-specific networks like Malaria World.
Last, it is very helpful to maintain a current and detailed lab website
(if applicable). Researchers do not always have control over their own
website, but be sure to tell your university to update your publications
list and section about research interests when necessary. You can also
consider a lab blog, where you would control 100% of the content.
Services like WordPress are free and not very difficult to use (note: we use WordPress for this site).
We hope that this post has given you some ideas about how to maintain
a strong presence online. If you have other tips or suggestions, please
share them! You can also send us questions in the comment form below,
on Twitter, or by e-mail. Best wishes!
An Online Presence for Researchers » AJE Expert Edge