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Curating your scholarly identity

A guide to help busy researchers raise the profile of their research

Benefits of curating your scholarly identity

  • Eliminate or minimize misidentification (e.g. name ambiguity)
  • Demonstrate your expertise, skills, and research interests when preparing to apply for promotion or continuing status, for students looking for a supervisor
  • Connect to all your research across different platforms
  • Network with peers, other researchers, and find potential research collaborators
  • Increase the visibility and readership of your research
  • Track attention to your research
  • Build a reputation in your field
  • Engage in discussions about your research
  • Provide accurate and authorized biographical and contact information

Considerations

 Do you want to:

  • Have active discussions or ask questions to peers?
  • Search for employment?
  • Find collaborators?
  • Share full-text versions of papers, projects, or just the links and citations to the full-text document?
  • Share alternate formats of your research such as video abstracts, blogs, photography?
  • Track research metrics such as reads, tweets, downloads, shares, citations?
  • Write about your research for the general public?

Who do you want to reach with your work? Who do you want your research to impact or influence?

  • Other researchers and potential research collaborators?
  • Students or professionals who you might recruit to your research team?
  • The general public?
  • People in other countries?

Once you know your audience, consider:

  • What networking/social media sites are members of your key audience already using?

Do you want to keep your personal and professional profiles separate, or blend them? Do you want unrestricted public access to your profile or only access for registered users of the profiling site?

For any platform you might use, consider the following:

  • Can you manage what information about you is available?
  • re you comfortable with how the profile regulates, collects and shares your data?
  • Does the platform comply with copyright law?
  • Is the platform commercial (e.g., ResearchGate) or not-for-profit (e.g., ORCID)?

Note: Considering the commercial nature of the platform is important because registering for commercial platforms means that you and your work are a “product” that the service monetizes and/or offers to advertisers. If these platforms are bought, sold, or go out of business, find out what would happen to the content you’ve uploaded to it.

Challenges

The ability to curate an online scholarly identity without the risk of abuse and harassment is a privilege for scholars with established power and authority favoured in academia.

There is a wide body of literature about the experiences of scholars who identify as female, Indigenous or persons of colour who have dealt with online harassment due to their intersectional factors, academic rank, and/or personal and professional choices. In addition, some researchers studying subjects or working in fields that may be considered high-profile or controversial (e.g., feminist, critical race) may find themselves targeted by others who hold extreme or opposing views about their research. This type of harassment aims to marginalize, minimize, and silence these voices in the scholarly conversation, which affects scholars’ lives and the public’s access to scholarship (Hodson & Veletsianos, 2018).

The following questions and resources can help you navigate these challenges and your experiences with promoting yourself and your research online:

  • Can you add or delete photos of yourself on the platform?
  • Is there free-text space to add biographical information?
  • Are you comfortable with how the profile regulates, collects and shares your data? Read the terms of service and privacy policy.
  • Do you want unrestricted public access to your profile or only access for registered users of the profiling site?