Managing your scholarly identity

When someone Googles your name, do you know what they will find?  When a colleague, student or potential employer go searching for your scholarly record, will they find accurate information?  When you are looking for a collaborator, a reviewer or a potential hire what sources do you trust for reliable and up-to-date information about that scholar?

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Unfortunately, faculty websites and college faculty profiles can often be absent, out-of-date, or impossible to find.

Enter the database of scholars.  There are several types out there – those that require registration and constant maintenance by individual scholars, those that automatically pull data from other sources, and those that do a bit of both.

My college has recently acquired access to one of the latter, Scholar Universe.  SUNY has negotiated with Scholar Universe (normally a subscription database) to provide open searching of SUNY scholar profiles.  Check out my SUNY colleagues and especially my SUNY Geneseo colleagues.

Faculty at my institution are now confronted with their public profiles, and a renewed interest in making sure that the information available about them is accurate and complete.  Yesterday, in collaboration with the Office of Sponsored Research, we held a workshop for faculty on editing their Scholar Universe profiles and otherwise managing their scholarly identity.

So, what can an individual researcher do to take control of their scholarly identity?  Here are some of my thoughts:

First, know how others see you.  Google yourself.  Do vanity searches in the databases used in your discipline.  Are you happy with the results?  While a database might not list all of your publications (because of which journals they choose to include), is a list of your publications available online?

Second, if you see wrong information – correct it.  Is your webpage 8 years old?  Make a few updates.  Remove time sensitive stuff like office hours and course schedules so that it doesn’t get so easily out of date.  Add stuff that won’t get out of date like publications, current and prior affiliations, and expertise.  If you see wrong information in a database or on another website, try to correct it by contacting the editor of the site (of course, sometimes this just isn’t possible.)

Third, add to the body of scholarly information available about you.  Create profiles on Nature Network or Mendeley and include your list of publications.  Post a copy of your CV (if you don’t know how to post a document online, try using Google Docs to upload a copy to the web). Assuming you have permission to do so, upload a pre-print of your publications to your website, an institutional repository (ask your librarian) or a disciplinary repository.

Fourth, do what you can do help scholars find all of your publications in one place, especially if you have a common name.  Register with to collect all of your publications in one place, and make sure that you only have one identity on Scopus.

What else can a researcher do?  How do you manage your scholarly identity?


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