How to Create an Academic Website

by Contributor

One task that crosses the mind of many academics, whether graduate students or those with established faculty positions in their field, is the matter of setting up an academic web site. Such a website may serve an instrumental purpose in helping to make your work more visible or it may serve a pedagogical purpose to help with your role as an educator in disbursing information to students.

Make a decision on whether to host your site on a university server or your own hosting space with your own domain. For an established academic with tenure, university hosting may make the most sense. For a graduate student or early career academic generally personal hosting is going be the better option. Even though you may have to pay out of pocket for personal hosting, if you are going to be or might be at a different institution in the future you don't want your Web presence tied to an account you can lose.

Start laying out how you want your site to look. Academic sites generally tend to have fairly conservative layouts, which is not a bad thing. Some are a simple one- page affair with contact information and a list of prominent publications. Several page layouts aren't out of the question, though, as long as you can find reasons for creating each page. Less established academics are generally going to benefit from having a larger Web presence, but it should be fairly conservative in style.

Give some thought to how you are going to handle the problem of displaying your CV online. A lot of CVs are simply going to be too big to put online as a single HTML document. While the CV can be good start for outlining your site, the CV itself may best be offered as a .pdf download from one of your pages. The reason I suggest the .pdf format is that it looks much more professional, and is much more of a standard than a word processing document. It ensures that someone printing out your CV has it looking as you intended it; other file formats may put the appearance of your CV at the hands of a stranger's print driver (or Web browser if you offer it in HTML).

Start assembling your site. Make sure you understand the File Transfer Protocol (ftp) for the page or pages you create for your hosting provider. After seeing how your idea looks live on the Internet, you may find it doesn't quite looks as your imagined. Just tweak things and publish the page again.

Once your site is up and running, link it to your profile on your department's site. If policies require you to host your site on university space to get linked, put up a place holder on the university server and link it to your external site.

Tip

  • check Colleagues as well as students can be a valuable resource for input as you assemble your page.

Warning

  • close In putting content on your site use at least the same amount of caution as you would in publishing in any other venue. Remember that however small you intend your audience to be, your website is open to the entire Internet-using public.

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