All researchers should aim to have a strong, up-to-date online presence. Here are some tips for maximising the effectiveness of e-profile. Here Peter Kirwan gives you a guide to getting the right message across online.

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E-profiles for researchers

An e-profile acts as an informal online CV. It presents the most important aspects of your career and research in a public forum, and may be seen by both peers and prospective employers.

There are a lot of benefits to having an online presence. It is increasingly normal for conference delegates, for example, to Google one another before meeting in person. It’s also important for interacting with online arts networks and forums, which are becoming more and more important in academic and arts-related debates.

A Warwick e-Portfolio may be an especially good platform for an e-profile because it works smoothly and comes up very high in Google searches – but any online presence at all is a great idea for arts researchers.

It’s important to adjust your content for new audiences and learn to describe your research to appeal to the wider arts community as well as fellow researchers. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your e-profile.

Summarising your research

Your main profile page should summarise the most important facts about yourself and link to further information. Don’t fill it up with small details – use it to introduce yourself. And don’t be afraid to be personal. You might include a brief thesis abstract, a photograph, and details of your home department and career to date.

Think about where your research engages with the wider arts sector – how will you convey your potential connections to relevant communities like production companies, authors or archivists?

Other things to include

If you are working on a solitary project (like the typical PhD thesis), the portfolio allows you to show what else you have to offer. Publications, conferences, reading groups, seminars, memberships and teaching are all great things to mention.

Selling your research online

Adapt your thesis abstract for an online audience. You may be tempted to outline your arguments at great length, but be aware that online readers have short attention spans.

Take advantage of the general interest aspects of your work to draw readers in. Ensure that you prioritise:

  • Your general field
  • Periods and geographical locations covered
  • Methodology
  • Key texts, authors or thinkers
  • Key arguments

It is important to provide the context from which your work originates, but also point out how your research is unique.

Getting specific

Strike a balance between detail and generalising. Plagiarism does occur; so be careful not to describe your most important work in exhaustive detail. Tell the reader what your work aims to achieve and how you plan to do it; but a few major references and points is enough.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to be specific either. If you list texts or people that you are interested in, you may attract comments and suggestions from researchers working on related topics. Link to relevant videos, news articles and images (but be aware of copyright issues).

Keeping your page up to date

Use your e-profile to keep up to date with the wider research and cultural communities.

If you have a blog or Twitter account, link to them from your e-profile, using an RSS feed if possible. You can also link your e-profile to an academia.edu account: if you’re not familiar with it, it’s an academic social network that can connect you to other researchers as well as signpost your e-profile.

It’s also a good idea to create a ‘news’ or ‘events’ section and update it with relevant exhibitions, performances, new books, archaeological finds or anything else in the media that connects to your research. This will show that your profile is continually updated, so readers may return to it repeatedly. Maintain links to arts organisations and research groups (and if these groups keep lists of links and subscribers, ask to be included).

Standing out

Arts e-profiles are still rare enough to be a distinguishing feature of a researcher’s portfolio, so promote it. Link to it in your e-mail signature, and make sure the site includes contact details.

Arts e-profiles are still rare enough to be a distinguishing feature of a researcher’s portfolio, so promote it. Link to it in your e-mail signature, and make sure the site includes contact details.

Think of the e-profile as a way to begin conversations. Readers may wish to get in touch with you for further details, or to suggest useful references and ideas. The more generous you are able to be, the more the portfolio will help you forge links in the academic and arts communities.

The Warwick guide to e-Portfolios includes examples and tips.

Image Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, Wikicommons