On March 4, 2013 Alex Huang, Associate Professor of English, Director of the
- Search for yourself online and gauge your online impact: Before one can start honing and molding an online presence, we must assess our presence online. Google yourself and see the places you are mentioned—see the impact of your online presence (digital footprint).
- Keep everything up to date: Make sure that all online profiles (these include, but are not limited to: Academia.edu, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MLA Commons) are updated regularly. Decide your desired time commitment in maintaining your various profiles and monitor them regularly. Alex made very clear that less is more—having fewer pages in which one actively participates is better than having a vast array that are neglected or not update regularly.
- Self-archive and share what you can: Make sure that your academic output is available for view.
- Connect and interact online: Comment on blogs, tweet, Facebook with other academics, making your presence and opinion heard and available to other academics.
When creating and maintaining your digital presence, Alex recommends creating a consistent, clear and concise message as a scholar. By honing and maintaining your digital footprint (an active contribution to your profiles and interactions with others online), hopefully your digital shadow will grow and echo—those things that others post about you and your work will increase in visibility. Interestingly, Alex indicated the importance of creating a brief but comprehensive view of yourself as a scholar, specifying the importance of using different jargon for the multiple sites one is on (i.e.: LinkedIn is useful, Alex mentioned, but better for the private sector and academic jargon should probably not be used on it).
A key way to ensure that one has a wide-range of online impact is by identifying key platforms in which to share scholarly output (i.e.: articles, teaching resources, etc.), and redundantly share the same work in a variety of formats (i.e. MLA Commons, personal websites, Academia.edu, etc.). For me, one particularly revelatory and useful fact that Alex shared during this conversation was the advantage of posting accepted conference abstracts, conference papers, and seminar papers which you consider to be excellent on sites such as Academia.edu
In the case of full-length articles (as opposed to abstracts), he did mention that once an article is being peer reviewed and considered for publication, you should take down the article from these websites. The abstract itself can stay up.
Other key bits of information:
- Twitter is a useful but an ephemeral medium because of its brevity—Alex did not find this online activity to be the best for scholarship dissemination, but did mention its use for finding CFP’s, new texts, and connecting with other scholars/writers.
- It has become the responsibility of the experts to disseminate their own information.
- GWU provides students and faculty with the space through which to create a personal website (http://home.gwu.edu/~GWid) and can be set up by visiting: http://helpdesk.gwu.edu/manuals/webpages/started.acad.html
- Alex did mention, however, that this is not the most advanced place for a personal website, but is useful (and free!) for junior scholars before they go on the market
- Facebook is a great place through which to connect with other scholars and place people into groups—Make sure that (acceptable) information is open to the public, but use the security/privacy settings on the site to ensure that certain information (i.e.: pictures, posts) that should remain private (for personal friends eyes only) remain private.
Alex Huang’s comprehensive presentation was a great how-to for junior scholars in creating, maintaining, and expanding their online presence in productive ways in order to make their work more visible. Make sure to read through Alex’s presentation, and feel free to contact me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maia Gil'Adi is a second year PhD student of American Literature and Culture in the English Department of the George Washington University.