Making the most of your academic profile


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The new La Trobe academic profiles are out and about - have you checked yours yet

If you haven't even looked at the new platform, this LibGuide on Academic Profiles can help you get going with populating or updating yours. 

There's a wide range of people who may be looking at your profile and you can never predict exactly who they might be but you can ensure your profile works for the engagement you'd welcome most! 

This requires a bit of thought about your potential audience, how you'll tell your career story, and what you'd like people to know about you. Remember that it doesn't have to be comprehensive and, in fact, it's better if it's not! 

How you write your career story across the three free-text sections of the academic profile (Bio, Research Interests, Teaching Interests) may depend on who you're hoping to connect with right now. 

For example, you may want to engage with: 

  • Potential graduate research students: Your profile is an excellent way to demonstrate what research you have done and are doing, potential future areas you're interested in, and what graduate supervision you offer. Strong academic profiles can showcase the type of research culture a grad researcher may be joining, too. If you're open to supervising graduate researchers, you should indicate this in your profile - it will be the primary way that searches for potential supervisors will be done. You would also need to be on the University's supervisor register. 
  • Collaborators from industry, the community, or funding organisations: Being engaging and articulate about your research can reach further than you'd think. Non-academic collaborators can gain insight into your expertise, experience, and approachability through your profile. Internally, teams that support our researchers may rely on these profiles to find experts in particular areas when opportunities for funding or partnership arise. 
  • Existing and potential colleagues: Having a strong profile means that colleagues from La Trobe University and beyond can immediately see what you've been doing. This is very useful for internal collaboration approaches, as well as external interest from potential academic job applicants. Knowing the research profile of a team you might be joining can be a deal-maker.
  • Journalists: Journalists don't only scour social media like Twitter - they also find expert voices through browser searches with key terms about current issues. Within La Trobe University, our Media team often search for experts on particular newsworthy issues and having a rich profile can assist them in connecting you with more chances to share your research and expertise.  
  • Employers: There may be a range of reasons why you're looking for a new position (e.g. you're graduating soon). Don't underestimate the  power of an institutional page that features a succinct career narrative and an effective snapshot of your expertise and experience. Presenting a professional, approachable 'face' can be extremely valuable.

And writing or updating your profile doesn't need to take a lot of time for it to be better! 

If you only have 10 minutes, you could tick a couple of these off the list: 

    • Update the "Web addresses and social media" section with relevant links to how you can be found elsewhere online (e.g. Twitter, Google Scholar, LinkedIn, personal or lab websites, project sites). 
    • Write a quick frontpage bio that is up-to-date and meaningful if people only skim the first three lines (or first couple of sentences). 
    • Add a few recent "Professional Activities" (e.g. membership of associations or societies, editorial roles, committee membership, media engagements, keynote talks). 
    • Ensure your "Availability" and "Expertise" (i.e. keywords) are accurate. 
    • Upload a good profile photo. 

If you have an hour, you could:

    • Write succinct, rich text for your Bio, Research Interests, and Teaching Interests sections. Keep in mind it should aim for a good 'snapshot' of you and your work - it shouldn't aim for comprehensiveness. 
    • Update employment history ("Academic Appointments" and "Non-academic Employment"), and "Professional Activities". 
    • Upload a good profile photo. 
    • Ensure your "Availability" and "Expertise" (i.e. keywords) are accurate. 

One of the best things about the new platform is the instant gratification! If you make a change, that change will appear in a few minutes on the live profile. It's not like the last profiles where you were dependent on a daily batch upload, which meant you might have to wait a day to see any edits. 

Finally, there is no perfect profile or bio that you can have. Having one is better than none, and you can build on it as you go along and make changes any time.  

To inspire you, here are a some diverse examples of La Trobe academic profiles: 

Senior researchers

Earlier career researchers 

Graduate researchers

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The refreshed Digital Academic module (self-paced development program to build your online presence) has a whole section devoted to La Trobe's Academic Profiles. The module gives you a much richer idea of the hows and whys of creating and managing an effective digital self, so drop by there if you'd like to know more. 

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Dr Tseen Khoo is a Senior Lecturer in research education and development with the RED team at La Trobe University. Melbourne. 

She has held research-only fellowships at the University of Queensland and Monash University, and was a research grant developer at RMIT University.

Tseen created and manages the Research Whisperer with Jonathan O'Donnell. 

She's on Twitter at @tseenster.

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