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Study Skills

Research skills

Online course for Cambridge researchers about publishing, managing data, finding and disseminating research.

Building your online profile

Welcome to this module about how to make the most of opportunities for online visibility.

Most people have online profiles and, as a researchers, your online presence offers many rich opportunities. At the end of this module you will be able to: 

  • Begin to develop your online research profile by making yourself visible to others in a way(s) that suits you.
  • Understand what an ORCID is and how to obtain one. 
  • Understand what your Symplectic Elements account is for and begin to make it work for you.
To complete this section, you will need:


  • Approximately 45 minutes.
  • Access to the internet. All the resources used here are available freely.
  • Some equipment for jotting down your thoughts, a pen and paper will do, or your phone or another electronic device.

Why should you manage your online profile? 

It is important to be clear on your rationale and aims to ensure you are spending your time productively. Consider what are the most important reason(s) why you personally would spend time managing your online presence. Scroll through the slides for some common reasons. 

  • You want your research openly available through publishing your research openly and/or sharing your research data
  • You want to define your online presence
  • You want to connect and collaborate with other researchers
  • You want to promote your skills and knowledge
  • You want your research to reach new audiences, both in academia and beyond

Improve Your Visibility

You need to be discoverable, and make sure that the information about you online is accurate, consistent, and engaging. There are many tools available to help you do this.

As a first step towards developing an online profile that you are happy with, it is important to know what information is already out there about you, so you can improve it and develop it as it suits you. A helpful thing to do is to perform a regular a Digital Identity Health Check.

Perform a Google or DuckDuckGo search on your name, trying your full name and variants. You might need to add ‘Cambridge’. Consider the following:

  • How close to the top of the search results do you appear?
  • Do other people with the same name as you appear in the search results?
  • Is your work reflected in the way you wish? Can you see presentations you’ve given, articles you’ve written or projects you’ve been involved in?
  • Is your institutional profile visible and up-to-date?
  • Can you find your social media profiles – personal and/or professional?
  • Do you see anything that others are saying about you? For example has your work been referenced elsewhere, referred to on other blogs, or included in any media coverage?
  • Select the images tab in the search engine. Have any personal photos made it into the results for your name? Do you mind?

There is full guidance on what else you can consider to improve your online profile with the Digital Health Check Identity guide.

If the Health Check has identified some areas where your online profile could be improved, this short video gives you 10 tips for how to do this. There is also advice on how to maximise the impact of your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, among others, that are highly indexed on search engines.

Remember: research suggests that it takes people just 8 or 9 seconds to find the search result they want. People do not often look past the first page of results. If you don’t appear there you are effectively invisible online!




ORCiD stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID. It provides a persistent digital identifier (an ORCiD iD) that you own and control, and that distinguishes you from every other researcher. This is an important tool in building your online academic presence and promoting yourself and your work to the wider world. 

Ever had this problem? 


A researcher's name alone often isn't enough to reliably identify the author of, or contributor to, a paper published in a scientific journal or a dataset uploaded to a repository. Many researchers share the same name, while others have different names during their career, or different variations of the same one. A ORCiD will help you

An ORCiD will help you with

  • Associating any of your name variation, together with all of your research works, accurately and reliably.
  • Ensuring credit is correctly attributed.
  • Keeping track of your outputs and the impact they make. 
  • Produce a professional record of your academic achievements to share with the world.

ORCiDs are so popular that many research funders and publishers now require that you have one before the start of a project. 

Watch the short video below to learn about some of the problems, what an ORCiD is and how it can help.


Activity: Let's try ORCiD out

Signing up for an ORCiD couldn't be easier. 

  1. Visit the ORCiD website.
  2. Fill in your details.
  3. You're all set!

Already have an ORCiD? Try adding more information such as educational achievements, affiliations and keywords to your profile to make it easier to find.

Symplectic Elements

Elements is the University's research information management system. Used by researchers across the institution to collate, share and report on their research outputs including publications, datasets, grants and professional activities. You'll also need to use the system to upload submissions to the University's repository, Apollo.

Watch this short introductory video to learn what Elements is and how you will need to use it as a Cambridge academic. The video will require a Cambridge login.

To access a transcript or skip back to a particular section, start the video and click on the 'Transcript' or 'Chapters' options in the top right. Or 'open in Stream' from the bottom right.


You can find more detailed guidance on how to use Symplectic in this Sharepoint site from the Research Information Office (Cambridge login required).


Activity: Time to practice

Take a look at your Elements profile. Does it have all the information that you need or is there more you could add? We have three suggestions below for you to try:-

  • You can update your profile, by adding adding websites, your preferred name, or professional activities such as such as a prize or membership. Visit Your Profile section on Sharepoint for further instructions (Cambridge Login required).
  • Link your ORCiD or any other research identifiers so Elements can find and automatically calim your publications for you. Visit Link your ORCID and other ID's section on Sharepoint for further instructions (Cambridge Login required).
  • Or you could review the search criteria you can use to find your research outputs. Visit the Publications section on Sharepoint for further instructions (Cambridge Login required).

Did you know?

You can self-report that you have completed this module to have it added to your training record. Simply visit the booking page and register.

How did you find this Research Skills module

We'd love to hear about your experience of this module to keep improving our offer. Please take the feedback survey, it should only take around 2 minutes to complete. 

Credits: The content of this module has been created by Claire Sewell and Clair Castle

Image Credits: Photo by Samantha Borges on Unsplash

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