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I have read several questions regarding the importance of a personal website when applying to Posdocs and other academic jobs. However, I have found little stating the importance of it when applying for a PhD. In general, how important is it to have a website as a PhD applicant?

In my case, I have done a bachelors and master in Chemical Engineering. However, now I am doing a master in Pure Mathematics and I am planning to apply for a PhD next year. From what I have read about admissions, the focus is on the SOP and the references, a website is hardly ever mentioned. These are the things I would like the admissions committee to know but might be too much detail for the SOP:

  1. I feel it is important to explain why the change of fields. But I don't want that to cover much of the motivation letter. So I think of having a short post on my website explaining in detail how and why I changed fields.

  2. I would like to show how invested I am in the field (differential geometry). So I was planning on including a section with the conferences and schools I have attended during my master, and to showcase a student seminar I have organized at my university.

I do not know how to put this information in my PhD application. So I think a website might be a good solution. Is this a good idea? what would be best for me to do?

2 Answers 2

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The first of your reasons would be a negative, I think. It sounds defensive. This is not the impression you want others to have.

The second of your reasons is not compelling. A personal website that just gives your qualifications is of little real value to anyone else. Your application materials will have all of that information in any case, so the web site is fairly useless. Additionally, the SOP is limited in length to get you to focus your writing on the important things, not to spew everything you know.

However, a personal web site that has things to offer to readers to make their now lives and work better can be a very positive thing but more for later, when you are looking for employment.

For example:

In mathematics, a web site that had, among other things a set of challenging exercises that give insight when solved is a very useful thing.

A blog that helps other students know how to learn a subject, or a topic.

Book and article recommendations to people studying specific things.

Software that enables generation of useful data or graphics or ...

If you can do something like that, then you can also have an extended CV with your papers and such as you develop them. But it needs to be more than just that if it is to really be helpful to others and to yourself. And if it is useful enough, then others will link to it, so that it starts to show up in Google rankings.

You don't, of course, have to develop such a site all at once. It is an incremental task that requires only periodic maintenance over an academic lifetime.

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To academia it's pretty much irrelevant. For your own career it is almost an absolute imperative.

Let me explain with my own example as I also have many fields. I have a technical career in 'Environmental Diagnostics and Improvement) (thats the most direct translation), then a another university title (Licenciatura) in 'Informatic sciences', then A pos-university (posgrado) in 'Economics disclorure' (yeah, another weird translation) , an MBA in 'Systems and ITC', andother posgraduate in the same, and the PHD is in 'Organizations Direction'. And in none of them was did I even remotely needed a website or even a profile in any social media (including academic ones),a t least not for admissions.

How? Easy. All that matters is your research for the PHD. You need or argument your research as multi-field with an holistic approach, base your methods or the relation on field A and how it impacts the new field, or propose some innovative way to apply or relate Field A to field B; or why it's needed (the opportunity gap).

This relkates tot he question: [Biophysics PhD after Master's in Computational Biology. Is it a common path?

It may may vary depending on the country, but remember that academia is stuck in it's own world and real life experience is not considered for most purposes. A researcher profile in Scopus, ORCID, Google Schoolar or even creating profiles in sites like scholarly, researchgate, or academia.edu. would be a a nice touch if you have any previous research though.

As for a personal webpage could be a bonus outside of academia though, even if it's just a linkedin profile or a site connected to it so that people can search you out.

My suggestion: Do make a page but in general, not for academia, and place the link in a profile that others can check. Place the link for that profile in your application papers and leave to the admissions personnel to check it but dont count on them doing that.

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