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 Academia.edu 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?

  • 5
    Doesn't your current advisor/department/university provide you web space?
    – JeffE
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 11:58
  • 5
    Why not both? My Academia.edu 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 Academia.edu site.
    – Andy W
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 11:59
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 12:02
  • 1
    @JeffE A PhD/Postdoc will presumably lost their department's webpage rather swiftly once they move on.
    – Fomite
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 22:07
  • 28
    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
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 20:34

10 Answers 10


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.

  • 2
    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
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 12:49
  • 18
    Don't listen to the Impostor Syndrome!
    – JeffE
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 17:51
  • 1
    @William In the parts of biology I've encountered, it's not uncommon for students to have a webpage.
    – Fomite
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 22:08
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    @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). Commented Feb 17, 2014 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.

  • 8
    +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
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 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.

  • 2
    +1 for "having a page is like having a facebook profile"
    – Suresh
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 20:34
  • so, do you think one should put his musical pieces on his professional webpage? :)
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 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.

  • arXiv.org 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.

  • Academia.edu 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.

  • Pretty bad seems like a gross understatement about the Acadamia.edu terms?
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 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'
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 12:13
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    @Strongbad - I once really wanted a paper, so I allowed academia.edu 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
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 9:04
  • "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.": How often are authors not allowed to send their paper by email upon request? Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 22:17
  • RG is pretty open, I like it. You can post pre-prints for everyone, or you can post the pre-print without access to the actual file (If they want access, they send a message directly to you)... But it is a bit messy. Nonetheless, I think it is good and worth the time if your colleagues use it/ or researchers you know. Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 8:46

While sites like Academia.edu 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.


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:


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.

  • 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'
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 17:15
  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 19:19
  • 3
    Sorry for over-reacting then. You're right, sarcasm is sooo difficult to express over the internet!
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 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.


I was wondering which web-based solution is the best suited to present myself and my work

Advantages of social sites are only of technical nature:

  • Easy to get started
  • Currently (at least for ResearchGate) not cost of having the site
  • You don't have to deal with SEO / design / availability of the site

The advantages of your personal side are more interesting:

  • Flexibility: You can create the page like you want it. You can upload demos / focus on stuff you like.
  • Explorability: You can have your own e-mail address which you can put on papers (and not change it). If you have [email protected] or something similar, people might have a look at yourname.com when they see the email address on a paper.
  • No / other spam: You don't get spam from "social" features informing you of stuff you don't need to know (that was the reason why I quit ResearchGate). You might get more spam to your e-mail address, though.
  • In combination with ORCiD, you can get started relatively easy. You can manage your papers on ORCiD and link to your ORCiD account on your personal site. Your personal site is the one always being "the main thing", then you can also try other sites and just link to your profile there.
  • You own your stuff. A social site - no matter how big - might permanently go down or change it terms of service to something you don't like. When you have your own website, you are independent.

What I particularly did not like of ResearchID is that they created other links of my papers. They added another first page with their logo / link to the PDF and then came the arXiv PDF. People were asking me through ResearchID for papers which are easily available through arXiv.

What you might consider for a personal website:

  • Having the basic information: Your name, your research interests, your publications, what you're currently working on. You might have a look at other pages of people in your field / what you're looking for when you are searching for profiles.
  • Adding an RSS feed for your papers. Then people can follow you / your publications.
  • Microformats such as hcard-profile

The more platforms you use to present yourself the better. So the right question is not use 1 or 2 or 3 but use 1 and 2 and 3. It depends on a particular discipline but I would suggest to have profiles on the following resources:

  • Google Scholar: very useful for others to quickly evaluate your imprint (#papers and #citations)
  • ResearchGate: some sort of social network for researchers; saw lots of activities have been happening there for last year or so
  • Mendeley: a great organizer of research publications (typically in PDF format); it also positions itself as a social network for researchers; imo, as a research social network and activities on it Mendeley is rather declining
  • Academia: a competitor to ResearchGate; didn't use it so cannot comment on whether is growing or declining
  • Linkedin: while it is not focused on researchers, a lot of them are there; your profile there can be really advanced and even serve as a proper CV

Lastly, having a web page(-s) describing yourself and your projects is a must. As a very minimum, it might be just one (simple, non-fancy looking is ok) page with your contact information and links to your profiles on platforms mentioned above. Usually, one's department/organization/lab provides an easy way to create/edit such a page. Besides, it is very easy (with no special technical skills) to create your pages (in form of a blog) on some free blog platform. In fact, I would really advocate that PhD students would be pushed to write a blog post about each published work of theirs where the content/ideas/discussion/etc of a publication is described in nutshell.

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