I am a graduate student in the physical sciences working towards my Ph.D and planning to finish in less than two years from now. In this age, where data mining/collection/analysis and then selling/using it for profit has become ubiquitous and quite easy because of the internet and the ever increasing plethora of electronic devices, I have become a little paranoid and worked quite hard over the past decade to keep myself anonymous and to stop anyone from piecing info about me as much as possible. I do regularly google myself and see what I can learn about myself.

So the thing is, I don't have a webpage of any kind. No blogs! Certainly no social sites. No professional/connection profiles like on LinkedIn. Even the university provided webpage/space is unused and I try to control where my university email is published. Only the people who know me and have met me face to face (personally and professionally like at a conference) have my info to get in touch with me. It would be quite difficult for someone who I don't know to get in touch with me even if it is research related. A potential employer will have a very hard time trying to find anything about me on the internet.

So my question is how detrimental is this behavior to my professional future? Just how bad is it really, assuming it is bad? Do I really need it? Will this hurt my chances in the future when I try to get a postdoc or a job in the industry? I haven't published anything yet but I will very soon and then I expect to have at least another paper before I graduate. Furthermore, I really don't know what will I be doing after graduation. I might do a postdoc at a lab but then after that I don't plan on staying in academia. I might just stay at a lab or go to the industry working for a R&D somewhere. I am also toying with the idea of just starting my own small business. It could be something completely unrelated to my degree like a bakery or a bookstore.

But let's stay that even if I decide to stay in the field like working at a national lab and publishing regularly, can this be done without a public online presence?

BTW, I am in the USA and I don't plan on ever moving out of the States so the postdoc/lab stuff will be here in the States if I decide to do it.

  • I just typed "scaaahu" into Google. It turned up 8,170 results. I can assure you that having online presence is easy while absence from online is much harder to maintain. In these days, it'll just take weeks to see your name everywhere after you decide to have online presence.
    – Nobody
    Apr 18, 2013 at 9:46
  • Look at answers to this question. While not a precise duplicate, I guess, you have here a good overlap with that question.
    – walkmanyi
    Apr 18, 2013 at 9:59
  • 3
    I think this question is very similar(if not a duplicate) to Is web presence important for researchers?
    – Nobody
    Apr 18, 2013 at 10:11
  • What do you get when you search your real name, currently?
    – Irwin
    Apr 18, 2013 at 14:45
  • Voted to close as duplicate.
    – Suresh
    Apr 18, 2013 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


Yes, it hurts your chances. It does not make you unemployable, far from it (I have recruited post-docs without web presence): when you apply for a position, your application file will include all the information that should be necessary for the hiring committee to decide, so they do not strictly need to see your webpage. As long as you appear on the departmental or group-level web listing of researchers… (otherwise it just looks weird)

However, look at the bigger picture: you're trying to make yourself a name in academia, so why do something that prevents it to some extent? There are good reasons for people to look up your webpage:

  • They saw you name, and wondered who you are, where you are, what you do.
  • They want to see what you have recently published, and find it easier to have it grouped on your web page that through a citation database (where your name may not be unique)
  • They know you, and thought about you for an open (or soon-to-be-open) position, and they want to check out if you have moved, if you recently accepted a position, etc.

So, there are two things that are absolutely needed:

  • People need to find that minimum amount of information about you when they search your name, and possibly some research-related keywords. A personal webpage, even a terse one, may be better for that than your departmental web page.
  • Your list of publications

As for myself, I maintained a webpage composed of exactly 1 HTML file, including:

  • my name
  • status (“PhD student at South Laponia U.”)
  • research keywords, link to my publication list (ResearcherID)
  • link to my CV (so I lied, I have a second file on that website: my CV in PDF format)
  • email address
  • link to my departmental website.

That's it. (It used to host my Master's thesis, but it is now hosted on an open archive, with a link from my publications list.) No picture of me or my pets, no blog/tumblr/twitter, no social websites.

  • 2
    This is a great answer, and covers the bases. I would reiterate that it helps to have your professional information online so it is easily accessible by someone who meets you or wants to look you up based on authorship of a paper. F'x's minimal example is as basic as it needs to be. Incidentally, I have a cousin who is a scientist at a national lab, and he has virtually no web presence and has done very well. He got his job before being online was even possible, though, and things have changed. Apr 18, 2013 at 10:01

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