What are personal academic websites?
A personal academic website connects your academic profile together. With key elements like your
- Academic bio
- Curriculum vitae (CV)
- And headshot
an academic website is the best way to manage your online presence.
You will be Googled by students, colleagues, and scholars in your field. What do people find when they search for you?
I’m Jennifer van Alstyne, and welcome to my blog, The Social Academic. I talk about best practices for your online presence in HigherEd. And I interview graduate students, faculty, and researchers like you about their work and social media lives.
Today I want to talk about your academic website.
I’m not going to tell you a website is easy. Because it’s not.
And I’m not going to tell you it’s something you can put up in an hour, or a day. Because you can, but it won’t be good.
I am going to tell you about the amazing benefits you’ll get from your personal academic website. Because that’s what’s important.
A personal website can change your life, in a great way. It means people can understand your work, get to know you, and get in touch.
Having a faculty website, or research website that can host a portfolio of your work, is the best way to explain how and what you do.
Your website can
- Host your curriculum vitae
- Link to your articles and publications
- Highlight upcoming speaking engagements
- Share your teaching interests and syllabi
Let’s talk about the benefits of having a personal website as an academic or researcher.
8 benefits of having a faculty or researcher website to highlight your work
Personal academic websites have many benefits for your career. I hope these inspire you to create your own.
Benefit #1 | Present your professional accomplishments
An academic website is the best place to share your professional accomplishments.
- Have something published
- Present at a conference
- Teach a new course
- Give a keynote or visiting lecture
it’s great to have somewhere to put that.
Your curriculum vitae is a great place to update this. But not many people see your CV.
Social media is a great place for this. But the half-life of a post is short.
An academic website is the best way to share your professional and scholarly accomplishments.
The people visiting your website are looking for more information about you. So, having the information ready for them is more meaningful.
Benefit #2 | Colleagues can find you and your work
Do you know what your colleagues are up to? What they work on or teach every day?
Not many people have a full understanding of what academic life and academic work entails. I’m one of them, and I talk to people like you all day.
I love asking people what they do, because it always surprises me.
I say colleagues here, but the thing is, everyone who wants to will be able to find you and your work.
And they’re finding the information you want them to see.
If the information they find helps them understand your work more, that’s a huge benefit. Because understanding our work means greater respect.
Your website can host things like
- Current research projects
- Research data
- Case Studies
Benefit #3 | Students learn about you in a fun and engaging way
If you teach or advise students, an academic website has great benefits for them. And that helps you too!
Students want to learn more about their professors. They want to know who you are and what to expect. It’s why RateMyProfesor.com is so popular.
You can control that message with a website of your own.
And, your faculty website or teaching page can host things like
- Courses you’ve taught
- Your teaching statement
- Sample assignments
- Student testimonials
- And syllabi
And your students will thank you. A website is a friendly and personable way to get to know you.
Benefit #4 | People can get in touch
Your website helps people of all kinds get in touch with you.
Faculty profiles tend to be unapproachable for the public, and sometimes even for people outside your institution. It depends what is included, how well it’s indexed by search engines, and the readability and usability of the page.
A personal academic website provides an easy way to get in touch.
More importantly, you can help direct people as to why they should get in touch.
For instance, are you interested in speaking about your research subject? Invite people to contact you about speaking engagements.
An academic website helps people who want to contact you.
Benefit #5 | Funders and publishers can understand who they’re working with
It’s more important than ever to be able to explain your work and why it’s important. Research funders expect it. And publishers are looking for it.
They want people who can dedicate time and energy to promoting their own work. A website goes a long way to help your broader impact. And it’s a visually engaging way for non-experts in your field to learn more.
A well-done website sends the message: I’m serious about my work, and I want to help people understand it.
A website shows your interest in the importance of dissemination, and long-term impact.
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Benefit #6 | Creating a website helps explain and maximize research impact
So I mentioned that funders and publishers love when you can show the impact of your work. Let’s talk a bit about how a website does that.
Website pages are static, which means the information on them doesn’t change much. After a few weeks or months, your page is indexed by search engines. And your name slowly becomes associated with keywords you use on those pages.
Let’s say you have a personal website. And you have a research project you’re working on, or recently completed. Here are some of the things you can do with your website to maximize that impact.
Include your research project in your bio
The 1st thing you can do is talk about your current research in your academic bio. This is likely to be seen by people who visit your website. And, it can be done in just a few sentences.
Create a dedicated web page for your research
Growing your site with a page dedicated to your research is a great way to organize your professional accomplishments. You can share a general statement about your research interests and abstracts for your projects.
Case studies can help you connect with your audience
Create a page around the key takeaway of your research. You can make it a case study. Add data visualizations. Record a video. There are many ways to share your research on your website.
Benefit #7 | Develop long-term connections
A website is the best way to develop long-term connections.
Why? People have longer lasting connections with people than with work product.
There are other ways to host your academic accomplishments. Social media sites for researchers have become more popular, like Academia.edu and ResearchGate. But these aren’t friendly for non-researchers.
You want people to find your work, and be interested in your next project.
Social media is great. But, I bet you follow a lot of people. Even if it’s hundreds, you’re not seeing everything that’s posted. The social media algorithms are like that.
A website is static. It changes the way you want it to, when you want it to. You have control over it, and your message.
It also means that people have somewhere to go back to. And, have a way to get in touch.
Benefit #8 | Connect on social media
Personal academic websites are so important. Social media also has amazing benefits.
With a personal academic website you control what they see, and how they can engage with you. And my online training designed to help you create the content for your website and manage it long-term is here to help.
A personal website means you connect people to all your social media in one place.
This allows people to connect with you, and engage with your work, in the ways it works best for them. And that’s important.
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A rundown of the benefits of academic websites
- An easy-to-navigate and engaging website helps present your professional accomplishments.
- Your colleagues and others in your field will be able to find you, and your work.
- Students learn about you in a fun and engaging way. And, if you have a good teaching section, it’s a great way to attract students who actually understand what your classes will be like.
- People who want to get in touch (potential collaborators, the media) will be able to. They can learn about you and know how to reach out for speaking engagements, media requests, and collaborations.
- Potential funders and publishers will have a better understanding of who they’re working with. Your ability to publicize yourself helps them justify their time and funds.
- You will have a better understanding of the impact of your own work.
- Website visitors will be able to develop longer-term connections with you and your work.
- People can connect with you on the social media accounts you share on your website with ease.
Learn the steps to making your website
Personal academic websites have great benefits like helping people understand your work, get to know you, and get in touch.
Now that you’ve learned more of the benefits of having a personal website, it’s time to make your own.
Join my online course, Create Your Personal Academic Website, to get training and live support for me while you do-it-yourself.
Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and public relations consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help academics, researchers, and writers control their online presence and share their work with the world.
She holds a B.A. from Monmouth University in English, and an M.F.A. from Naropa University in Writing & Poetics where she was the Jack Kerouac Fellow. Jennifer also holds an M.A. from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Literature and Cultural Studies where she was one of four master’s fellows and a finalist for the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award.