You Need a Personal Academic Website or Online Web Portfolio

It’s time for a personal academic website

An open laptop with Jennifer van Alstyne's personal website on the screen.

A personal academic website is the best way to communicate who you are and what you do. That’s what we’re going to talk about today on The Social Academic blog.

Are you a scientist, researcher, or grad student? A personal website may be the best way for you to manage your online presence.

There is a stigma in the academy against sharing and self promotion. You may or may not use social media. Most academics don’t have a personal academic website. Most scientists don’t have a personal scientist website.

Having a website of your own, where you can share your bio and talk about the work you do is a great way to connect with your scholarly audience.

I’m Jennifer van Alstyne, and welcome to my blog. Let’s talk about why having an online portfolio is great for educators like you.

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When’s the last time you checked in with your online presence?

A person in a caramel tan ribbed sweater is sitting at a desk. They are wearing 2 bangles. The person is typing on an open laptop.

Pretend you’re someone searching for you. Were you able to find what you’re looking for?

  • If you were a student, did you learn a bit about the professor you want to take a class with next semester?
  • If you were prospective graduate student, would you be able to find an email address to connect with your potential supervisor?
  • If you were an event organizer booking speakers, were you able to learn if this person is open to speaking engagements?
  • If you were a grant reviewer, will this person be good at communicating their work (outreach)?

Now think back to the first 3 minutes. That’s about how long someone will give you. Often less. You only have a moment to share you are and why they should be interested.

Today we’re going to talk about why a personal website is the best way to control what people find and know about you.

Google yourself every 6 months or so. I recommend checking-in on a regular basis. Add a reminder to your calendar.

Free online presence workshop

Get started for in this virtual choose your own adventure workshop for professors, researchers, and graduate students.

Anxiety over your online identity is normal

Holding head in confusion and frustration

Your web presence, what people find about you when they look you up, may be something you haven’t thought of before. Now that you have, it might make you a bit anxious. And that’s normal!

With connected HigherEd “influencers” out there, anxiety over managing your web presence can sometimes happen. Especially when people first start thinking about it. That feeling is normal.

Your friends and colleagues say you need to be on #AcademicTwitter. And, yeah that’s a great way to connect with your community.

What you really need is a website for long-term networking and engagement with your work. Learn why.

What is a personal website?

A personal website is a series of web pages about you.

A personal website can be big, with dozens of pages. If you have a blog, your website may have hundreds of pages. A personal website can also be small, with just 1-page.

Scholar websites can

  • Host your curriculum vitae
  • Link to your articles and publications
  • Highlight upcoming speaking engagements
  • Share your teaching interests and syllabi
  • More importantly, a personal academic website can show you are a human being.

A personal website can be lifechanging for academics.

Social media is a great place for conversation or sharing ideas. But editors, potential employers, and colleagues will not be able to keep up with your accomplishments among the other voices online. Social media moves too fast. Regardless, it’s difficult to get a full understanding of someone’s work from a social media profile.

A more robust web portfolio can highlight all aspects of your academic life. Websites allow for full control over what you showcase, and how you explain the work you do.

If you don’t have a lot of time to spend, even a 1-page website can make a difference.

Academic websites are like an online portfolio of your work

A man sits at a window bar seat at a coffee shot with a tablet in his hands. On the tablet is Jennifer van Alstyne's personal website with the Publications page pulled up.

Your faculty profile on your institution’s homepage is likely not approachable for a general audience. After reading hundreds (if not thousands) of faculty profiles, this has been true for the vast majority I’ve seen.

Your faculty profile is not the most dynamic or engaging way to connect with

  • people in your field
  • the media
  • the public

Scholars and researchers should share their work in ways the public can engage. Doing so is becoming expected, especially in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Beyond that, these people are looking for those who can talk effectively about their own work with a general audience

  • publishers
  • grant and research funders
  • employers

A website for researchers can benefit your professional life because it provides detailed and specific information that your colleagues, administrators, and network need in one space. When you’re ready to start on your personal website project, check out my how-to guide.

Do you need help with your website?

Jennifer van Alstyne has been working with academics on their personal websites since 2018. Let’s talk about your website project!

Guides and Advice Articles Personal Website How To's

Jennifer van Alstyne View All →

Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and communications consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help professors, researchers, and graduate students manage their online presence. Jennifer’s goal is to help people share their work with the world.

Check out her personal site at https://jennifervanalstyne
or learn more about the services she offers at

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