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Career Assets

Creating an Effective Personal Academic Website

 

Kathryn Muehlberger, Communications Specialist

June 2020

Building your own academic website to display your research is crucial for branding yourself, especially if you are an early career researcher or graduate student, as well as for initiating conversations with new (and familiar) scientists. Importantly, an academic personal website takes you a step further in terms of increasing your visibility, as it is an ideal place to showcase your complete research profile. However, constructing a website can appear time consuming and challenging, and the technical details can be initially overwhelming. Here, we provide a general guide to inform you on how to easily create an effective academic website to attract attention to your publications and increase networking opportunities.

Selecting a website platform:

The internet has a plethora of website platform options. Each option has different prices, content, technicalities, and user capabilities. We recommend browsing a few basic options at first: WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. Once ready to begin, select the platform that best fits your website needs and technical skills. Consider this: developing a website is like opening up your own store. In other words, a researcher's academic work is a product in the store.

Once you have decided on your website platform, the next step is registering a domain name. A domain name that is simple, yet unique is what you want to achieve. One example involves including your first and last name, followed by your research field (e.g., johnappleseedpsychology). It is best to try and avoid any punctuation, symbols, or numbers. Registering a domain is analogous to renting a location for your store, and creating a domain name is to give your store an identity.

After registering your domain name, which will require a small cost, consider purchasing your domain name. For example, if you use WordPress, this turns www.johnappleseedpsychology.wordpress.com into www.johnappleseedpsychology.com.

Identifying what content to post:

Once you have registered your domain name and secured web hosting, you can start creating your personal research website. What are main aspects of your research profile that you want to showcase? The average user spends approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute viewing a webpage. As such, it is essential to display your research discipline and interests, top publications, and notable contributions on your homepage to grab the attention of the user. We also recommend including a dynamic and interesting image or photograph with either a tagline, title, or a small paragraph about what the user will find on your website.

Finally, you can start designing and creating the individual pages within your academic website. Below we offer an overview of what elements to include on your website partitioned into three categories: your biography, your research page, and your blog or social media content (optional).

Biography:


Research:


Blog/Social Media (optional):


Posting your content:

As you build your personal academic website, we recommend exploring different formats for the various pages. Do you wish to share samples of your work? Add images. Publications? Add a link! Let your creativity flow.

Here is an excellent example of a visually appealing and highly informative personal academic website: https://www.sarahcrumpscience.com/. This researcher not only provided the basics (access to her CV, contact information, and research record), but also includes social media links, videos, and recent posts. Collectively, these elements establish a robust website that peaks user attention.

Utilizing the above steps will help you build your online presence as a researcher, as your academic website should be an organized presentation of you both professionally and academically. Remember, creating (and maintaining) your personal research website is an opportunity to highlight your research findings, personality, publications, achievements, and many other aspects of your research profile you wish to share.


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