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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. undefined

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.

The content of this module has been created by Claire Sewell at the Moore Library and Clair Castle at the Chemistry Library. 

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. 

It opens up new connections and collaboration. People can find your work and they might want to work with you.

You can reach new audiences – outside of academia as well as within it.

You can build a reputation outside your institution. People become familiar with your work and this attracts their attention.

Promote your skills and knowledge. Let people know what you can do, for potential employers and funders.

Disseminate your research and ideas so you can share your research effectively.

Control what information is already out there. Information/data about you will already have found its way on to the web so you need to take control of it so it works for you.

Be visible so people can find and interact with you and your work.

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. 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? 


An ORCiD can help you to differentiate your name from other researchers in the same or different fields. This stops the problem of people misattributing your work and makes it easier for you to keep track of the impact of your outputs. It also offers a great way to 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.


Let's try this 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

Symplectic is an important tool for recording and sharing your research outputs for many reasons and is the system on which much of the University's research reporting is built. It is a vital part of many of the research processes at the University. The short video below explains more about Symplectic and outlines some of its key functions.


You can find more detailed guidance on how to use Symplectic in this Moodle course from the Research Information Office.

It is a good idea to link your ORCiD profile to your Symplectic account so that it will be automatically populated when you add a new publication to Symplectic. You can see how to do this in this handy GIF from our colleagues at the OSC.

Time to practice: take a look at your Symplectic profile. Does it have all the information that you need or is there more you could add? 

Either add an activity to your profile such as a prize or membership OR set up the search criteria you can use to find your research outputs. Full instructions on how to do this can be found in this document.


undefinedYou may be required to use an online tool called Researchfish to report back to your finder on the outcome of your work. This is an online system used by researchers to report the impact of their work to funders. A range of activities can demonstrate impact such as publications, engagement activities, collaborations and awards. Many funders such as Wellcome Trust, UKRI and CRUK require these reports from PIs and students in their third year and above. Although you are no longer able to connect Researchfish with Symplectic directly you can link your ORCiD account to Symplectic to ensure automatic updating of your profile.

A range of video tutorials covering Researchfish functions can be found here.

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