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Presenting Your Best Self: How to Maximize Your Online Presence

A guide to your options for creating and maintaining a presence online among fellow scholars, with the purposes of raising your profile, meeting and working with collaborators, and promoting your research.

Maximizing & Maintaining Your Online Presence

Whether you're currently employed or hoping to be, here are some reasons to take the time to manage your online presence.

  • Name control
    If you have a very common or often misspelled name, use a nickname, or have work published under a maiden name, one useful tool is the ORCID, a unique identifier that you can use to collect your work under your exact name, and then use when publishing future works.

  • Search engine optimization/web presence
    You are Googleable and people will do so, especially if you're in the market for a new job. Proactively creating profiles and perhaps establishing a blog will help ensure that your top results are the ones you want people to see.

  • Promote your research and find more
    Formal and informal studies have shown that work promoted through social media gets more views and downloads than work that isn't. There are a number of tools that will help you coordinate your promotional push. Similarly, find the work of other scholars through means you might not have come across otherwise.

  • Find collaborators
    Meet people across the country and the world who share your research interests. External collaboration increases your institution's profile and can look good to promotion and tenure committees.

  • Funders like it
    This is especially true of federal agencies. Dr. Denise Barnes of the NSF puts it this way: “It is imperative that NSF staff and those funded by NSF be able to communicate in a clear, concise and compelling way the outcomes and impacts of taxpayers’ investments and do so in a manner that is easily understood by a diverse group of stakeholders who span broad technical literacy levels. Effective communication can help stakeholders grasp the societal benefits of NSF-supported research and education undertaken in the nation” (quoted in Shipman 2012). The public is paying for your work; they should be able to understand what it's about.

Shipman, M. (2012, December 5). "SciComm matters because... funding agencies say so" [blog post]. Retrieved from

Personal Policies

Things you should think about when considering what to do online.

Privacy/personal data

What are your limits? What are you okay with being out there? The companies that run these organizations are tracking you, and you should decide how much you're willing to give them.


Personal vs. work

Who are you willing to have see your profile? Different social networks serve different purposes, so decide beforehand what you want to make available to your coworkers, collaborators and students and what you want to keep separate.



Know what you have the right to do with your own work if you’re thinking of posting the full-text of anything to one of the networks. Check back in with your copyright agreements if it’s been a while since you signed them, or visit SHERPA/RoMEO (linked below) to see your publisher's copyright policy.

Unique Identifier Registry: ORCID

A handy way to ensure your publications are all attributed to you is to register for a unique identifier which can then be linked to other professional accounts and used on future work and research to ensure a common connection between the author and the work.

ORCID is a standalone open registry, and you'll also find that you're assigned identifiers if your works are indexed in Scopus (Scopus Author ID) and Web of Science (ResearcherID).


ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID)

  • Persistent 16-character unique identifier for researchers and reviewers to connect to works, grants, patents, etc.
  • Nonprofit organization
  • Founded 2010
  • Free registration
  • Works in conjunction with ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier; ISO 27729)

Academic Social Networks

Academic social networks can provide some opportunities for meeting others in your field and promoting your work, but please note that they will track your personal data and email you incessantly in exchange.



  • Research-based for-profit social network
  • Founded 2008, headquartered in Berlin
  • Free membership (funded by several rounds of investors)
  • Also does: Job listings, profile export into CV
  • Institutional email address required
  • Account required for most uses but free, limited search of materials held within RG is also available

  • Research-based for-profit social network
  • Founded 2008, headquartered in San Francisco
    • Note: .edu domain bought before .edu was restricted to nonprofit educational institutions
  • Free basic membership (”upgrade to premium to remove ads”)
    • Premium membership available for a monthly or yearly fee

Issues with Academic Social Networks
  • Free memberships, lots of funding – where’s the profit?
    • RG: Targeted ads and jobs
    • Academia: premium accounts, jobs
  • Spammy invitations, nonstop emailing
  • Meaningless metrics
  • RG: Fake profiles scraped from citations and personal websites
  • Closed access to user data
  • Fake open access: purports to be open but is closed only to members, some paying
  • Publisher anger and occasional rounds of take-down notices

Works Cited

Kraker, P., Jordan, K., and E. Lex. (2015, December 9). The ResearchGate Score: a good example of a bad metric. The Impact Blog (London School of Economics and Political Science). Retrieved November 28, 2016, from
Lunden, I. (2017, February 28). ResearchGate raises $52.6M for its social research network for scientists. TechCrunch. Retrieved April 12, 2018 from

Impact Trackers

How is your work being discussed online?

Citation indexes like Scopus and Web of Science track citations between articles, but do not always capture online discussion usage like social media and sharing. These tools, both projects of the nonprofit OurResearch, can help.


  • Free to use DOI search based on Crossref data
  • No account required


  • Researcher profiles that highlight the sharing of open source and open access materials
  • Initially released in 2012 by the organization that is now known as OurResearch
  • Log in with ORCID or Twitter account
  • Allows for user download of all personal data