Des conseils de carrière
Gavan Watson holds a PhD in
environmental education from
York University and is an
educational developer at the
University of Guelph.
Your online presence
your academic self
by Gavan Watson
you move from being a graduate
student to the next stage on your
career path, employers will be
searching for people like you. Telling your own academic story – and
curating the breadth and depth of that information – will be an important way to catch their eye.
One strategy to let employers know who you are
and what you are about is to create an online
What you share in this academic profile is
up to you. You need to decide whether to keep
it strictly professional, with just your publication record and teaching philosophy statement,
or whether to make it more personal. If the personal informs the professional, then sharing
some personal content can enrich an employer’s
understanding of who you are.
You may be concerned that there’s a risk of
sharing too much (and hurting your chances of
getting hired), but appropriate personal content
certainly helps an employer measure your fit
within the organization. Done well, the reward
outweighs the risk.
You also need to decide how much time you
are willing to commit to building an online academic profile. This commitment can be measured in time, effort or technological expertise.
A full blog that reflects your personality as well
as your academic accomplishments and opinions
requires some creativity and lots of attention. If
you don’t have the know-how or the time to feed
a personal wesbite like this, then you may want
to choose one of the lower-stakes options.
There are a number of web services that can
help you establish your presence. Here are some
examples, as well as the level of risk and work
Academica.edu profile: professional, lower stakes
Academia.edu is a social network pitched di-
rectly at those working within academic insti-
tutions. You can connect to scholars who share
similar research interests. You can also use the
site to build your academic presence by shar-
ing talks, papers and other forms of academic
I consider this option “lower stakes” because
you can add as little or as much detail as you like
and it doesn’t really require maintenance beyond
the odd visit to update your activities. An added
bonus is analytics: you can get an email anytime
that a Google search brings up your profile.
An academic blog: More professional, higher stakes
Examples: http://natashakenny.wordpress.com/; or
An academic blog is a website that focuses exclusively on your academic work. It shares little or
no personal information, which is often the
mainstay of a blog. This kind of blogging can
give an external audience a more sophisticated
understanding of your scholarly approach than
a static CV. For graduate students, you might
write about stages in your dissertation or a particular challenge in your field.
I consider it “higher stakes” because you need
to create content on an ongoing basis and initially
you need to create the structure. It also demands
that you have an interest in maintaining the tech-
nical aspects of the site.
An about.me profile: More personal, lower stakes
About.me acts as an online business card, which
in its brevity can provide a quick outline of academic interests. It’s visual and points to other
sites: Twitter, Flickr and LinkedIn. Creating a
page takes no more than 15 minutes. It offers
analytics so you can get an idea of visitor traffic.
I suggest that this profile is more personal
because of the links to other online presences –
one of which could be your lab website or graduate student page on your department website
– and it lets those sites do the heavy lifting in
answering the question of who you are.
A hybrid blog: More personal, higher stakes
Examples: www.biodiversityinfocus.com/blog/; or
the informal LMS ePortfolio
A hybrid approach mixes the personal with the
professional. While personal items are posted in
a hybrid blog, these sites also engage with disciplinary questions relevant to your field. The
hybrid blog can reveal what informs the author’s
personal life and professional practice. It can be
a rich resource for those who want to know more
than what’s in your CV.
Like the professional blog, it requires more
sophisticated knowledge of how to create and
maintain a site. That sophistication, in turn,
allows for more creativity in building something
that matches your goals.