I know of a full professor who doesn't list any of his publications on his website. He just gives name, title, email address and phone number.

Nothing more, literally.

When I search for his work internally through our library he has plenty of published work.

What are some typical reasons why he wouldn't want to list his papers online, especially in the publish or perish culture of academia?

I notice some other full professors do this too, nothing but a name, email and phone number is on their school website. No advertising their work at all.

  • 49
    Maybe they're too busy publishing to maintain a website.
    – gerrit
    Oct 25 '17 at 12:16
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    Why would it be a question of ethics? Being active on the internet is not a moral imperative. Oct 25 '17 at 12:31
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    If you know him, maybe you could as him. Maybe he will say: "I don't know web site construction. How would you like to fix up my web site?"
    – GEdgar
    Oct 25 '17 at 12:44
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    It's a spam buffer, though the discipline matters. Some faculty use minimalist pages as a buffer against the "crazy" spam, which can come from the public or undergraduates. For example, those working on infectious disease do not want dozens of e-mails daily accusing them of genetically engineering a new black plague or from freshman interested in creating a new plague. Sexuality, finances, or work related with stem cells may be similarly kept quieter. It is assumed qualified collaborators would still e-mail.
    – Quixy
    Oct 25 '17 at 20:14

There are several reasons why this would be the case. The most prominent of which is simply they don't have the time to do it. Most institutions have departmental and faculty websites which contain such information (depending on how much the University/institute keeps up to date with it) and is managed by someone other than the professor.

Sometimes, the role of updating the website is relegated to lab members (postdocs/students/assistants) which may be people who don't know how to build or edit websites or aren't reliably updating them.

For example, I've been given reign over our lab's personal website (we have an official institutional one) but I have no idea how to code html or any other web-based programming. When trying to get personal statements or papers of note from lab members, very little will people actually reply with these details making the website partially filled out.

If you really care about the publications from a professor, look them up wherever your primary resource for articles is There's no hiding on there and I would be highly skeptical about it being an issue of 'wanting to hide their work'.

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    "If you really care about the publications from a professor, look them up in PubMed"? You don't believe that academia only consists of people doing medical related research, do you?
    – Sverre
    Oct 25 '17 at 14:40
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    @Sverre God, no, not again Oct 25 '17 at 19:26
  • @Sverre I read it with an implied "or whatever might be most appropriate for your field" tacked on - it just sounds classier to leave it implicit instead of explicit.
    – corsiKa
    Oct 25 '17 at 19:29
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    @corsiKa In this case I would prefer being accurate over being classy.
    – David Z
    Oct 25 '17 at 20:37
  • Yowzers. Didn't mean to russle so many people. As @corsiKa said I meant it as an implied 'look it up yourself, wherever it may be'. I've edited it to as not to annoy anyone else.
    – Eppicurt
    Oct 26 '17 at 2:37

I want to address another point in your question:

What are some typical reasons why he wouldn't want to list his papers online, especially in the publish or perish culture of academia?

I notice some other full professors do this too, nothing but a name, email and phone number is on their school website. No advertising their work at all.

Personal webpages are, generally speaking, not the primary way that professors "advertise" their work. If I have a paper that I've written and I want to make people aware of it, I'll probably go to a conference or two and talk about it. In my field (physics), I can also post it to arXiv, which a large fraction of people in my research specialty are looking at on any given day. Academia.edu has become somewhat useful for discovering other interesting work in my research specialty as well. A personal web page might be useful for me to promote my "brand" as a public speaker, but it's not where I would expect someone to go to learn about my work, nor would I automatically go to someone else's personal web page to learn about their work.

Similarly, the "publish or perish" culture isn't really affected by personal webpages. When a professor applies for a grant or a promotion, you can be sure that they list every single one of their publications on the CV that they send to the evaluating body. The evaluating body will not, as a general rule, start looking at materials that the applicant hasn't submitted; they generally don't have the time or inclination to go beyond what's in the applicant's portfolio. A professor's success is not determined by what's on their personal webpage.


Institutions often set up a basic web page for each faculty member with exactly the information you mention. It is then up to the faculty member to embellish. Or not, as the case may be. Reasons for not embellishing include having more important things to do, i.e. lack of time, and disinterest in working with the web when one could be researching or writing.

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    Indeed - somebody in administration makes a big push to get everyone a faculty page. The department admins gather a bunch of information (possibly including 'recent' publications), throws it all into a standardized template, and it is all done and shiny brand new looking. Then, nobody bothers to update it ever again until they are forced to by the next wave of enthusiastic bureaucrats who think researchers care about faculty web pages. Very typical of virtually all faculty pages at any university I've ever visited...
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 25 '17 at 13:44
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    I have had a script updating my bibliography regularly from my bibtex files. It doesn't look nice, but was quite complete. Then, the institution impressed on us using the university-internal system which cannot be scripted. Which means that since I cannot automate the process and I have no time for maintaining two separate databases, one becomes on-demand only, and the other is only maintained pro-forma. Oct 25 '17 at 14:44
  • @JonCuster At my former institution, I noticed in the alphabetical list of faculty a link for a colleague who had died a couple of years earlier. I thought it was nice that the school had preserved his online presence... until I clicked on the link and found an empty template page.
    – Bob Brown
    Oct 25 '17 at 15:15
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    @JonCuster My impression from my own administration is not that they think other researchers care about faculty web pages, but that they think parents of prospective students might. They would like us to brag about accomplishments in a shiny, centralized spot that admissions can easily point to.
    – 1006a
    Oct 25 '17 at 19:52

Because once they are tenured, they don't need to.

The important point in your question is that you are speaking about full professors. Your observation will probably be completely different, if considering post-doctoral researchers and assistant professors.

The point is: In academia, personal web pages are basically a means for self-advertising. This is, of course, completely legitimate. It is just that not everybody likes to do this.

As a young researcher seeking a career in the "publish or perish culture of academia", there is basically no choice: You have to advertise yourself and your work all the time. So you maintain a detailed personal web page.

Once you have reached a safe position (formally by being tenured, informally by being known in your community), you have the choice if you want to continue investing time and energy into a web page. Some decide it is not / no longer worth it.


I think it's not so much "don't want to" as "don't bother to".

And some of my colleagues "of a certain age" are still disdainful about the internet, and disdainful about learning how to write basic HTML and put documents on-line. Some of this may be a hold-over from a time in which computers were thought of exclusively as devices to do computations, rather than to communicate. Further, some mathematicians were/are disdainful of computational mathematics... And I've had people (now mostly retired) very directly say to me that "maintaining web pages is not part of the job of a mathematician". (I'm pretty sure that these people had ulterior motives for claiming this, but, still, they were willing to say it!)

And it does still appear to be the case that no amount of on-line stuff can substitute (in mathematics, in the U.S.) for traditional journal papers (even if they are hidden behind pay-walls), so, again, some people simply don't bother. Even listing things might be construed as pointless, if all that matters for some purposes is impressing one's department head, dean, and funding agencies.

It is also true that (perhaps motivated by security or economy concerns) many universities are changing to a "cloud-based" web-page model, which makes access much more complicated (from my viewpoint) as opposed to the straightforward (from my viewpoint) access via a unix/linux-style file-system allowing simple movement of files from one's home directory, for example, or via "scp", and remote access via "ssh". Indeed, it has taken significant effort to at least temporarily prevent this kind of change in my department, for faculty web-pages, and it was irresistible for departmental and grad-student pages. I'd wager that before I retire, it will change for the worse... Then it would become much less simple to update and change things.


Often, the prime way of publishing is through a journal or conference managed by large institutions. In the process of submitting your work, you will still too often be asked to give away the copyright to your work to these institutions. Sometimes you are then not allowed to publish the work individually as well.

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    I think you may have mistaken listing with posting as full text. Oct 26 '17 at 13:28

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