It seems that creating personal professional websites by aspiring and experienced researchers is a mainstream trend today (that includes full-featured sites as well as blogs). Based on multiple recommendations from people's answers and comments on this site as well as my own opinion on the subject, I have decided to jump the bandwagon and create my own full-featured personal professional site. I still plan to maintain my profiles/pages on various professional/social sites, such as LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, about.me and some others. However, I envision the planned site as a centerpiece of my personal professional branding strategy due to higher independence (no platform lock-in), much more flexibility in creating, managing and styling content, thus, providing much better opportunities to express thoughts, which is essential to any scholar.

Working on my website, I included slightly customized versions of free templates of Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. The latter document contains references to software licensing, but does not address the licensing of the website's contents and users' contributions, which I think is important.

In this context, I am curious about pros and cons of selecting particular content license, including the Creative Commons license. When answering this question, please keep in mind that, while significant part of the website's context will be related to academia and research, some planned materials will (might) be of dual nature, that is, focused on either academia or consulting, or both.

  • 2
    Clarification: I realize that using the phrase "personal professional" seems like an oxymoron. However, I intentionally use such term to distinguish the corresponding specific type of content and outlets from the extremes of purely personal and corporate (organizational) professional. Aug 16, 2015 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


For licensing personal content, you almost certainly want to either use one of the Creative Commons licenses or else declare your content All Rights Reserved. There is actually not one, but seven Creative Commons licenses, which span a wide range of preferred usages (here is a handy tool for choosing a license to use), and the licenses are well-maintained and highly compatible with themselves and others, even internationally and in complex remixes.

In general, then, if you want your content to be shareable, you should choose a Creative Commons license, and if you want it to not be shareable, your should declare it All Rights Reserved. Alternate licenses for shareable contents are generally not as compatible, well-maintained, or well-understood by others as the Creative Commons family, and thus will generally be no better (and often worse) for sharing. Alternate licenses for non-sharable content are generally intended to support particular commercialization relationships, and would be negotiated when such a relationship is being established.

Of this set of options, for a personal website, I would generally recommend CC-BY. This is the most lightweight and flexible sharing arrangement, and thus generally allows the most potential for increased personal visibility (attribution is always required). If you're planning to put up major works that you think others will want to publish commercially, then you might want to consider using All Rights Reserved for those works, but probably not for small works or for the web pages that contain them: at an early stage of your career, attention and credibility will be much more valuable than the largely non-existent possibility of some sort of royalties.

  • +1. Thank you for excellent advice. Especially valuable is the point of using CC license globally for the website in conjunction with having the flexibility to locally license some specific materials with commercial focus otherwise. Aug 16, 2015 at 13:18
  • In the United States and other Berne Convention countries, all written work is automatically copyrighted by the author at the instant of creation. There is no need to explicitly declare "All Rights Reserved"; all rights are reserved by default.
    – JeffE
    Aug 16, 2015 at 16:14
  • @JeffE You are absolutely correct. However, for somebody who's wondering if they can share or reuse your work, it's a lot nicer to find an explicit copyright statement (even "All Rights Reserved") rather than wondering whether there's a carelessly placed license statement that you just aren't finding. For example, I've encountered an entire RFC series released under generous CC licenses, but poorly labelled such that they appear All Rights Reserved unless you happen to use a particular distribution interface and scroll all the way down to the footer at the bottom of the meta-data page.
    – jakebeal
    Aug 16, 2015 at 16:31

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