On academic branding…

Good communication is part of our jobs as researchers. And communicating well, in 2009, means having an effective web presence.

When I read someone’s paper, and I like it, I want to know who the person is. Sometimes it is merely to find out if they produced more similar work, or else, it can be to understand the context of their ideas. And I am constantly frustrated by people who shy away from even offering a simple publication list to the world!

Are you happy, just being from school Omega? David Parry urges us to do better:

Think about this as rather than being a professor from Omega university who writes about Legal Institutions in Meerkat Communities, you can be a professor who writes about Meerkats and the Law and who is associated with Omega university.

In short, researchers rely on their school and their publishers to broadcast their information. David is saying that it is suboptimal both for you and for the community. 

Stop saying you are “John from school X”. Say that you are “John who works on problem  Y”. Don’t rely on your employer to carry your message!

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

5 thoughts on “On academic branding…”

  1. And then you get the annoying multiple personality syndrome whenever a professor (or even a student) moves from one institution to another. Universities can be very slow at correcting their websites and so the same person appears at two (or even more!) institutions. Very annoying when you’re trying to find their email address.

  2. Top researchers hardly have to identify their university or corporate affiliations–in fact, there are times I didn’t realize that someone had moved for several years! But it’s not surprising that less famous people prefer to attach themselves to more famous brands, whether those brands belong to their employers, alma maters, or local sports teams.

  3. Hey there-

    This is a great blog; I’m glad I stumbled upon it. I hope you won’t mind me adding you to my blogroll.

    I’m interested in capturing the essence of the “student life” and how to translate our learning there to life beyond graduate school.

    As for branding, I’m with you–I think it is a crucial aspect of building relationships and strengthening our work. I love focusing on the “blurb” or the “elevator spiel”–how would you describe your work in 30 seconds to someone? Mastering the art of explaining yourself in a concise and compelling manner is a must!

    I’d love it if you stopped by my blog and said hi!

    Andrew Stuhl

  4. In U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, long known as UIUC, some marketing types decided that the “Illinois” brand is valuable, and belongs solely to this campus in the UofI system. So, last year, they changed the domain name, our email addresses from uiuc.edu to Illinois.edu :). I don’t know if that will make a difference or not … most people still refers to us as UofI Urbana-Champaign …

    Since I’m working on a very narrow and new field, Secure Provenance, I’d love to be known for that rather than my university brand. There aren’t too many people working on secure provenance, so I hope that the “X who works on secure provenance” tag sticks to me.

  5. I decided the standard CV was a bit dry, so instead I wrote just what you suggested:


    I suppose I should break out the LingPipe project into its component parts, since it’s been going on nearly 6 years now!

    I find computer scientists tend to put up more than biologists or statisticians. And are much more likely to have their own permanent pages.

    But whither all of these personal pages in the face of FaceBook and LinkedIn? I’m using the LingPipe blog more and more to put up links to things.

    I also realize I’m now one of those people with a ten-year old picture in place! I thought it was vanity when people did that, but no, it just turns out to be laziness.

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