What is a personal academic website?
Today we’re talking about personal academic websites and the types of information you can include. What pages to have, what to share, and the types of things you can showcase.
Welcome to The Social Academic. I’m Jennifer and on this blog/podcast, I share my top tips for your online presence in the HigherEd world.
You’re probably like, OK – I know I need a website. And I know how it will benefit my life.
But what do I even put on it?
What to include on your academic website is totally up to you. And it will depend on how much time and energy you have. Not just in terms of creating your website (the hard part), but also keeping it up-to-date. It’s more work than you might think!
Here’s my list of 10 things you can share on your personal website. And I’ll talk about why each one helps you.
For those of you who want guidance and email support while creating your website, I also have an online training to help.
10 things to share on your academic website
1. Your academic bio introduces people to you
The one thing all personal academic websites must have is a bio that introduces you to the public.
It should talk about who you are, what you’re working on now, and your general research.
And, I often recommend this is on the front page, that it’s what your audience will see first.
People searching for your website are looking to learn more about you and your work. Make it easy for them to find!
2. A friendly headshot makes you approachable to your audience
Including a headshot is a great way to help people remember you and your work.
I often recommend you use the same headshot across the board for publicity, social media, and your website.
While you can do a professional photo shoot, selfies work just as well.
A friendly photo of you goes a long way to making you approachable. So, remember to smile!
3. Link to your CV
Your curriculum vitae should not be the only place people can learn about your work.
How you structure your website will be dependent on what you want to include from your CV. And since every academic has a different background, there’s no prescriptive this-site-works-for-everyone.
So you need to include the information you want people to see from your CV on your website. Afterall, the text of your document isn’t included in Google Search.
You can also share a link to your CV with a public share link.
By the way – be sure your CV is ready for online viewing. That means removing personal location details, and contact details for your references.
When we share online, we must also consider our privacy.
4. Describe your research
How you outline your research on your website is up to you. Some people create a page for it, others include a short description in their bio.
Either way, you want to make sure that your research is approachable. I recommend avoiding jargon, and using short paragraphs.
If you have a 1-page website, this might just be a paragraph about your research.
For some people this looks like a page. For others, say if you have multiple books or projects, it’s a series of pages that share what it’s all about.
5. Share your publications
Sharing your publications on your personal academic website is a great way to get more readers.
It also helps create connections between your work, and where it’s hosted.
When you share a publication on your website, be sure to include the details and a link.
And, I recommend a short description or abstract, especially for paywalled publications. This will help people understand what your research is all about, and what they can get from it themselves.
Do not offer to send copies by request on your personal website unless you have written permission from your publisher. While ResearchGate and Academia.edu are getting by, you don’t want to open yourself up to copyright issues on a personal site. Web hosts tend to take copyright violations seriously.
Learn more about personal academic websites and how to get started on yours in my upcoming YouTube LIVE. Subscribe to my channel on YouTube and set a reminder for this live event on November 9, 2020.
6. Highlight your teaching statement
Teaching is a great thing to showcase on your personal website because part of your online audience is your students.
There are so many things you can include here, it really deserves its own post. I’m adding it to The Social Academic list right now.
Here are just a few of the teaching-related things you can include on your web page
- share current and past courses
- include course descriptions
- showcase student work and sample assignments
- talk about your teaching practices or philosophy
- link to syllabi
7. Publicize your speaking engagements
Academics attend and speak at a lot of conferences. And meetings. Sometimes lectures or keynotes. Public talks. The list goes on.
Whatever your upcoming event, sharing it on your website is a great way to get the word out, and get people in those seats.
If you have somewhere to direct people to that’s easy to read, and conveys the information people need to actually decide if they’ll go, well that’s amazing.
Most people link directly to the conference event page when sharing a speaking engagement on Twitter. It’s often a lot of information. Or not enough at all.
You have control over the details when you share it on your own website. For upcoming engagements, I like to include a short description to help people make the decision that’s right for them.
To attend or not, is often in the details.
8. Direct your audience
One thing a lot of people forget they can do with a personal website, is direct visitors to the things they care about most.
Whether you’re an editor of a journal, or a committee chair for your scholarly association, you can introduce people to the work you do outside of research and teaching.
9. Create a contact form
How hard is it to find your email address to get in touch?
For many academics, it’s buried on a faculty profile along with a never-answered office voicemail.
What should people get in touch about?
It’s a question not everyone asks themselves.
Do you want to hear from editors, or conference organizers? Do you want to book speaking engagements? Do you want to network and meet people in your field?
A contact form is a great way to have a bit more control over that process. It let’s people know how they can get in touch with you, and makes you more approachable than someone who just shares their email address.
Academics complain about email all the time. Sometimes that results in not getting in touch because we don’t want to bother someone.
Including a contact page, or a contact form that invites people to get in touch is much more approachable.
10. Get social
Sharing your social media profiles on your website is a great way to network.
You see, not everyone likes all social media platforms. Oftentimes, it’s helpful to connect with people where they want to connect.
A social links menu can include your social media profiles in a streamlined way.
Some people prefer sharing a widget or embedding their Twitter or Instagram feed.
Whichever is right for you will help your audience get in touch. And, it often leads to better networking or conversations because if people find your social media through your website, they’ll already know a bit about you from your bio.
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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.