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I will soon finish my PhD and start searching for a post-doc position and I was wondering which web-based solution is the best suited to present myself and my work (I work in plant biology).

I see two main options: social network type, such as or ResearchGate or a personal page (using for instance Wordpress).

My concern is that social networking solution does not offer a lot of flexibility (attaching documents, presenting my current research more in depth), but I do not want to seem too pretentious by having my own webpage while I am just a PhD student.

My question is then:

Isn't it too soon to have a personal web page at this stage of my career (I am still a PhD student) to present my work or is the pre-made solution more adequate?

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Doesn't your current advisor/department/university provide you web space? – JeffE Apr 30 '12 at 11:58
Why not both? My site comes up higher in a variety of google searches than my blog/personal webpage, although as you noted I do not enjoy the rigid structure of the site. – Andy W Apr 30 '12 at 11:59
@JeffE of course they do and I already used them, but it have two major drawbacks: it lacks flexibility and I will not be able to use it anymore when I will have a new position elsewhere – Wiliam Apr 30 '12 at 12:02
Granted. On the other hand, Most sane departments/universities will either forward links to a new URL or let departing students maintain their page for at least a few months. On the gripping hand, a link from the advisor's page is enough to let Google catch up a few days after a move. – JeffE May 1 '12 at 10:20
I am stunned that anyone would think that having a web page could be viewed as pretentious. My view is that if you don't have a web page, you may as well not exist :) – Suresh May 1 '12 at 20:34

8 Answers 8

up vote 39 down vote accepted

Perhaps it's different in other fields, but in math, it isn't pretentious for a PhD student to operate their own website, and it's quite common. (Most schools, at least in the US, provide the space for students to host a personal website.)

Furthermore, I'd say that after a couple years, a PhD student (again, in math) absolutely should have a personal website. Formats oriented around published papers or formal CV aren't very useful for giving information about a grad student because there isn't that much of either. If I meet someone or hear about them from their advisor, and want to learn more about their work, a personal website is best way to get some information about where they're likely to be when they finish.

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I think it is indeed different from fields to fields. In biology, I have the feeling it is not that common in biology and I do want to be "the pretentious PhD student who already have a webpage and almost nothing to show on it compared to full time professors"... – Wiliam Apr 30 '12 at 12:49
Don't listen to the Impostor Syndrome! – JeffE Apr 30 '12 at 17:51
@William In the parts of biology I've encountered, it's not uncommon for students to have a webpage. – Fomite Apr 30 '12 at 22:08
@Wiliam Unless its a vanity webpage, I don't see how having a website can be pretentious. Even if you have no publications, but just once to introduce yourself as "I'm X Y, interested in blah-blah, and here is my e-mail". Especially as the last information may be very important (e.g. when someone wants to contact you after a conference talk or anything). – Piotr Migdal Feb 17 '14 at 17:03

As soon as you have even a single preprint, people will begin searching online to find out who you are and what else you have done, so you must have a web page. It doesn't have to be elaborate, and it's enough to start with a few lines of professional contact information and a list of links to papers, but you have to have something.

I think a generic web page looks more professional than one created using a social networking site, but perhaps that's because I'm old. However, there is one absolutely critical issue: the page must allow visitors to download any content without logging in. At least one of the social sites lets visitors view papers on the site, but insists that you create an account if you want to download anything. This is terrible! In my experience, nobody's going to create an account unless they really, really want that paper, and either way they are going to be unhappy at the imposition. Offering access to papers and then harassing anyone who tries to download them leaves a very bad impression.

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+1 for "Allow visitors to download any content without logging in." If I am looking browsing for various recent papers on a topic to get an overview of current work, and not specifically seeking out a particular paper, then I will not [register and] log in just to download a paper. So having to log in could cost you readers and citations. – Senex Sep 10 '14 at 8:28

Personally the professors and PhD students I remember well are the ones with an elaborate page for themselves. From what I have learnt from this site, a PhD is simply not merely about publications, citations and academic work. You need to build contacts, make friends and network in the academia, which as such is a small place.

Having a page for yourselves is hardly pretentious. It is just like having a Facebook profile or a Twitter account, a means to show others that you are alive and kicking. And publications are not the only thing you may have there. Add a lot of extra-curricular details, your non-academic passions and interests, some photos that may make people take interest in you as a person.

For further details, I would like to redirect you to some wonderful answers to the question I asked here.

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+1 for "having a page is like having a facebook profile" – Suresh May 1 '12 at 20:34
so, do you think one should put his musical pieces on his professional webpage? :) – yo' Jan 24 '14 at 17:16

You should be sure to make your papers available somewhere (to the extent the jounral policies allow, or more at your own risk). The options are:

  • Personal webpage – IMHO a must-have, but I'm in math/TCS, in other fields it can be different.

  • open-access reliable scientific works repository, I like it.

  • LinkedIn looks similar to other social networking sites, but is more carrier-oriented, you can put any publications there, and link them to either your homepage or arXiv or whatever, or don't link them at all, that's up to you.

  • ResearchGate I have no true experience with RG since it's not so popular amongst my colleagues. But it seems to me that you can both put the whole article there, or just put the reference there with the option that people can ask you to send them the paper. This is very nice since you need not to break any journal's policies to make it work.

  • IMHO a no-no since their Terms of Service are pretty bad.

For me, I have a homepage, LinkedIn and I put everything on arXiv. It seems to be a good amount of various resources, so that people can find me easily, but I don't spend too much time with maintanance.

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Pretty bad seems like a gross understatement about the terms? – StrongBad Jan 25 '14 at 12:08
@StrongBad My recommendation is to put the actual articles only on very truthworthy places. I don't have a ResearchGate account for a reason, and I don't put the actual PDF files on LinkedIn. I have everything only on arXiv and on my personal webpage. For open-access publications, I link to the journal as well. – yo' Jan 25 '14 at 12:13
@Strongbad - I once really wanted a paper, so I allowed to create an account using my facebook login. This led to an automatic creation of a profile page for me, which I was unaware of. It had my picture, it mentione a few of my papers, and it made up a list of completely nonsensical research interests, such as marketing (I'm a neuroscientist). I'd say that's pretty bad. – Ana Nov 12 '14 at 9:04

While sites like and LinkedIn offer built-in 'networking' facilities and mean that one doesn't have to learn anything technical, in using them as one's primary academic web presence one is handing over control of one's professional identity to a third party whose goals are far from guaranteed to be aligned with one's own.

If nothing else there is the obvious threat that they may go out of business and leave one's web identity untethered, so to speak. They might also decide to run adverts against your profile, sell your data to other companies, and so on. With a personal website on one's own domain there is a level of control and security that can't be obtained from these other services. Convenience and ubiquity are benefits, but they should be weighed against other considerations, not taken as overriding reasons for action.

To answer the question more directly: it is (certainly in my field, philosophy) perfectly normal and appropriate to have a personal website while still a graduate student, and there are numerous advantages to doing so.

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I think that a web presence is a must in academia (at least nowadays!).

At the very least you should have a site for the current course you are teaching, as a graduate student. This is not necessary, but it is starting to become expected by students (although, who cares what they think ;) ). I think a webpage is good because you can update it at a moment's notice, almost everyone has access to it, and if not, it's easily done, and you can also provide solutions for problems, quizzes, and past exams, as well as have links for cool math-y things (my area of expertise), wolfram alpha apps, java apps, matlab code, etc.

However, I believe that this post was inquiring more along the lines of having a webpage as an early researcher. In that regard, yes and yes (and dare I say yes again?).

Having a general page of your research interests, several sub-topics, collaborators, and even, (dare I say it?), a personal portion of it about you, is a good idea. People expect to be able to access documents for pre-prints, post-prints (assuming you have the appropriate copyright), software, CV, etc., and at this point it is not unreasonable for them to think so.

I would also suggest having a site not at your university. You can redirect your university site to your other site and you don't have to worry about migrating files over when you move from grad to post-doc to post-doc to tenure-track at a tier 1 research institution (except for maybe the last transition).

Also, if you host your own site, you can have your own diaspora pod running, and we can move more towards open-source networking.

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Sorry, but "who cares what they (the students) think" doesn't look like an opinion of someone I wanted to hire to a teaching position in the future. I of course do care what the students I teach think, one only has to filter out "the cours is too hard" and "it is not fair that the 5-minute tests are at the beginning of the lesson, because I'm always late". – yo' Jan 24 '14 at 17:15
I apologize (and am not going to edit the comment) ... I actually do care about my students. It is difficult to convey sarcasm via text. Although, I would think that the ';)' would be some indication (or I guess it could be taken the other way . . . sigh well, once it's on the internet, you can't take it off). Why would I advocate for a webpage for your class with solutions and other various tools for them to learn if I didn't care about them? – nagniemerg Jan 24 '14 at 19:19
Sorry for over-reacting then. You're right, sarcasm is sooo difficult to express over the internet! – yo' Jan 24 '14 at 19:22

I'd like to add to @tohecz's answer that one important point to consider are the self-archiving policies of the journals you publish in.

E.g. Elsevier usually allows you to put your accepted manuscript on your personal home page but not into repositories like ResearchGate (exception is arXiv)

Elsevier's AAM Policy: Authors retain the right to use the accepted author manuscript for [...] permitted scholarly posting provided that these are not for purposes of commercial use or systematic distribution.

Elsevier believes that individual authors should be able to distribute their AAMs [...] e.g. posting to their websites or their institution’s repository [...]. However, our policies differ regarding the systematic aggregation or distribution of AAMs [...]. Therefore, deposit in, or posting to, subject-oriented or centralized repositories (such as PubMed Central), or institutional repositories with systematic posting mandates is permitted only under specific agreements between Elsevier and the repository, agency or institution, and only consistent with the publisher’s policies concerning such repositories. Voluntary posting of AAMs in the arXiv subject repository is permitted.

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In addition to the options listed in tohecz answer, it could be quite helpful to set up a Google Scholar Profile, see e.g. these links for details:

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