Wednesday, 29 May 2019

You and your academic profile

Aspirational avatar | By Tseen Khoo
Did you know that every researcher at La Trobe now has a university academic profile page?

Yes, EVERY researcher!

Academic staff have always had one and now all graduate researchers do, too! This coincides with the issuing of institutional staff accounts for grad researchers, a move that gives everyone a great opportunity to present their researcher profiles as they would like.

This post is for all those researchers out there - no matter what stage of career you're at - who have yet to populate their academic profile page.

I give many workshops about developing digital identities. It's a really good thing to be deliberate and savvy about how you cultivate your online presence. It's not just about the technicalities of knowing how to use LinkedIn or Twitter, or making sure your work is accessible and more widely understood. These elements are involved, but having an effective digital presence means telling a cohesive story about yourself that's then backed up by the other evidence that's findable online. Usually, you're never just found as a single entity on the internet; you may well be spread across several sites and listings.

One good way to be found is via a well developed institutional page, one that points people to other ways you might be online.

Here's what I'd recommend to get you started with a strong academic profile on La Trobe's Research and Teaching Scholars directory:

Writing a good bio


I like using Pat Thomson's blogpost Writing a bio-note to get people started when writing their profile text. It's a good piece that sketches out notions of audience and how you want to represent yourself as a researcher.

Let me talk you through the bio I have for my La Trobe academic profile page. It's by no means perfect but here's my thinking around why I wrote what I did.

FIRST PARAGRAPH:
Dr Tseen Khoo is a Lecturer in the Research Education and Development team, Graduate Research School, La Trobe University. She’s been a Senior Advisor (Research Grant Development) at RMIT University, and a research fellow at Monash University and the University of Queensland. She has written on research funding issues, early career researcher experiences, alternative academic streams, and racial diversity issues in Australia. 
I wrote this first paragraph to give people an instant snapshot of my current position and areas of scholarly expertise. If they don't read any further, it's OK. They have a good overview and it's the kind of bio that can run alongside any media commentary or be picked over for appropriate quote attribution (e.g. 'Dr Tseen Khoo, a lecturer at La Trobe University, stated...').

SECOND PARAGRAPH:
Tseen is the founding convenor of the Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN; 2006-2017), and a founding editorial advisor for the Asian Australian arts and culture magazine, Peril (2006-2013). 
This second paragraph gives a bit more detail about the depth of my formal experience and expertise in an area that is the bulk of my scholarly background (but that may not 'show' as obviously in the role I'm currently in). If people want to dig around and see what else I've done, this paragraph gives them signals about where they'd find more.

THIRD PARAGRAPH:
With Jonathan O’Donnell, Tseen created and runs the research development and research culture blog, The Research Whisperer (researchwhisperer.org).
I use this as my short final para because it's a major part of my academic identity in the area of researcher development and the source of many of my collegial networks. It's current, and it's important to who I am as a scholar. I want to make sure people know about it and how to find the Research Whisperer project (which is why I included the URL, even though I've also linked to it in the left-side column of the profile page; note that you cannot put active links in the bio text).

The key to getting your bio text written is to remember that it's not set in stone! It's better to have something there than nothing at all, and there is no perfect way to do it. If circumstances change, or you want to emphasise another aspect of your experience/expertise, edit away!

Don't have a good photo for the profile photo? 


You can look out for the photo sessions that are being run at La Trobe in forthcoming issues of the Graduate Research Scholar, or you can organise to take your own without spending a heap of money.

Here is an article with a simple set of tips for taking flattering photos of yourself and another for taking good profile photos with some nice examples. There's heaps out there on the internet about  how to stage your own photo-shoots so you can get a good result.

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So, go forth and fill in your La Trobe academic profile! Don't let people who are interested in you find nothing but your email address and a blank avatar.

If you want to know more about how to set up your academic profile page and the technicalities of adding information, the Library and RED are running a whole series of sessions on this, or you can read this fabulous Library Guide on Academic Profiles.

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