I believe visibility in academia is both a contributor to and outcome of scholarly reputation. As such, for students and junior faculty starting out in their academic journeys and looking to establish their own scholarly reputations, visibility is often the pre-requisite to finding new collaborations as well as recruiting students. After all, how will people collaborate with you or join your team if they can’t see you?
Advances in information and communications technologies are rapidly changing the landscape of resources available for creating and enhancing such visibility. The internet has in many ways democratized who can be visible, and yet at the same time exacerbated the problem of who gets to be seen.
Affiliation with well-established and reputable institutions (such as by way education/job status) and their websites has been one prominent resource for enhancing one’s visibility. The visibility of the well-established and reputable institutions and their websites can lend visibility to the newcomer.
However, in my experience, these resources for enhancing our visibility cannot be assumed to have been made available for all who should be entitled to access them. For example, in the months after I started as a junior faculty, I learned from a prospective PhD student interested in joining my lab that I had not been included in my institution website’s faculty page. Upon further inspection, many other newer faculty had also been left off this important page that prospective students were referring to in order to find potential mentors. I even wrote code to systematically parse and compare faculty lists to make sure I wasn’t missing anyone. I informed the relevant parties and the issue was quickly resolved. Now again, nearly a year later, the same problem has arisen again where both myself and another newer woman faculty member had been left off another institutional website’s affiliated faculty page. So this resources for enhancing visibility in the form of presence on an institution’s affiliated faculty page that should have been made available by default, and indeed has been made available by default to others, was not for us. Therefore, it appears that the onus is falling on our shoulders to leverage alternative resources and create our own visibility.
To this end, I strongly advise for students and junior faculty to:
1. Make your own academic personal website
This academic personal website as well as my lab website has been made (for free) using Jekyll on Github. There are many tutorials available to help you to help you get started to quickly build your own academic portfolio or simple online CV to begin creating and enhancing your own visibility:
- An in-depth tutorial for getting started with Jekyll on Github
- A shorter tutorial for getting started with Jekyll on Github
- A nice online CV Jekyll theme
- A nice portfolio Jekyll theme (shown below)
2. Get profiles on professional social media websites
You can also link to your academic personal website via these profiles (and vice versa) to enhance SEO and searchability so people can find you more easily. Here are a few professional social media websites for your consideration:
3. Put your scholarly content out there
Record and share to your scientific presentations such as on Youtube. Here are some personal academic Youtube channels to encourage you to find your own voice:
4. Look out for one another
While those of us within the system continue to advocate for change, please look out for each other. Learn to advocate for yourself and your community. If we are invisible because people refuse to see us, then let us at least see each other. Because we are here. And we will make ourselves be seen.