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Managing Your Scholarly Identity

Discover how you can increase your professional visibility and track your research impact.

Do You Have a Digital Footprint or Digital Shadow?

Digital Footprint

Do you contribute to and interact with the online world? If so, you have a digital footprint. This could be through comments on blogs, online profiles, or any other content you make available on the web. Any activity online leaves a digital footprint.

Digital Shadow

Do your colleagues, friends, and/or students use social media or any online platform for sharing news, articles, ratings, etc.? If so, you probably have a digital shadow. If others are posting or uploading content about you, including automatically generated content,  then you have a digital shadow.

Take control of your digital footprint and shadow by shaping or expanding your online presence. Below are just a few tools that scholars and academics use to curate and manage their online scholarly identity.

Positively Increase Your Visibility

Establish and maintain your online identity. Doing this will increase your visibility and grow your professional network. It also increases the visibility of your scholarly outputs and, in turn, the impact of your work.

Below are some places to get started if you don’t already have an established scholarly online presence. Disclosure: many of these are commercial sites, so be sure to review their terms of service, privacy and copyright policies.

Once established, be sure to keep your profile up to date.

  • Be consistent. Use the same name, preferably your full name, for bios and profile pictures. Below are some tools you can use to disambiguate your name and pull together all of your works.
  • Monitor your online presence regularly (Google yourself!).  This will allow you to make informed decisions about your digital footprint and have some control over your online persona.
Tracking Your Research Impact

Research impact refers to how research influences and changes society. Measuring research impact involves analyzing citations to peer-reviewed literature. Altmetrics are now considered a supplement to these citation metrics. They draw on social media, news, blogs, research networks, and other non-peer reviewed sources to help tell the story of how research impacts the broader society.

Author Impact Factors allow you to measure the reach of your published work

  • H-Index – The Web of Science uses the H-Index to quantify research output by measuring author productivity and impact within their database. If a researcher publishes an article in a journal that is not indexed by Web of Science, the article as well as any citations to it will not be included in the H-Index calculation.
  • G-Index – proposed by Leo Egghe in his 2006 paper “Theory and Practice of the G-Index”as an improvement on the H-Index.  How to calculate your G-Index
  • Google Scholar Metrics
  • PLoS Article Level Metrics (ALM) is a service provided by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) for all authors of works published in PLoS journals.  ALM goes beyond traditional metrics and considers not just citation data, but also data regarding usage (such as views and downloads), mentions in blogs and other media, as well as metrics related to social media.
  • ImpactStory Profiles – Impactstory is an open-source website that helps researchers explore and share the online impact of their research.
  • Altmetrics a tool that tracks and collates online shares and mentions of your work allowing you to monitor parts of your digital shadow and demonstrate your impact in new ways.

Journal Impact Factors measure the importance of a particular journal in a field by taking into account the number of articles published per year and the number of citations to articles published in that journal. These measures are intended to help researchers get a sense of the top journals in their field.

  • Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is a product of ISI Web of Knowledge that provides impact factors and rankings of many journals in the social and life sciences based on millions of citations.  It offers numerous sorting options including impact factor, total cites, total articles, and immediacy index.  In addition, JCR provides a five-year impact factor and visualized trend data.
  • Eigenfactor Journal Rankings – an alternative measure of journal importance
  • Scimago Journal & Country Rank – uses citation data from Scopus, a scholarly research database to rank journal impact. It also provides rankings by journal country of origin.
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