The academic web profile as a genre of ‘self-making’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



The activities of academic researchers are increasingly regulated by neo-liberal ideals, including expectations that researchers are visible online and actively promote their output. The purpose of this paper is to explore how researchers take on this responsibility. It uses the concepts of genre, authorship and self-writing in order to understand how the story of an academic life is constructed on academic web profiles.

A qualitative content analysis was conducted of material on 64 profiles belonging to 20 researchers on institutional and personal websites, as well as on ResearchGate, and Google Scholar.

The study shows that while institutional websites primarily contain researcher-produced material, content on commercial platforms is often co-constructed through distributed authorship by the researcher, the platform and other platform users. Nine different ways in which the profile of an “academic self” may be said to highlight the particular strengths of a researcher are identified. These include both metrics-based strengths and qualitative forms of information about the academic life, such as experience, the importance of their research and good teaching.
Social implications

This study of academic web profiles contributes to a better understanding of how researchers self-govern the story of their academic self, or resist such governance, in online environments.

The study furthers the knowledge of how researchers make use of and respond to digital tools for online visibility opportunities and how the story of the “academic self” is “made” for such public presentation.


  • Helena Francke
External organisations
  • University of Borås
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Information Studies


  • Academic social network sites, Researchers, Self-writing, Distributed authorship, Academic web profiles
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-774
JournalOnline Information Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch

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