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Study Skills

Wolfson College Academic Skills: Digital Footprint

Help with finding, managing and using information from the Wolfson Library Team.

Why develop a digital footprint?

  • It already exists so it is best to be in control of the information about you on the web
  • Increases chances of finding collaborators and them finding you
  • Showcases you and your work within and outwith academia, which is important for making an impact with your research
  • Means that you are prepared in case a potential employer uses it in recruitment
  • It takes a little time to get in order but is very straightforward

Surveying your current footprint

Your digital footprint is about the traces you leave on online and that others leave about you. It includes

  • Profiles on social networking sites
  • Profiles on websites e.g. department, clubs/societies
  • Photographs, slides, posters
  • Written text on blogs, papers, discussion boards

It relates to your work, volunteering, and your social life.While you may reserve certain behaviour for particular platforms, others won't make that distinction. We therefore recommend that you delete out-of-date profiles and posts/photographs that you consider inappropriate for colleagues/peers/family to see.

Find out about yourself!

Search for yourself, a peer or supervisor to find out what the web says about them. If it is about you, are there any surprises? Is it current? Is there anything that you want to change/delete?

Or use, a search engine that doesn't track your searches, store personal information or follow you with adverts. Unlike Google it will deliver the same results to everyone, regardless of your search history.

Making yourself more visible

Here are some tips when tidying up your profiles:

Check your settings to show:

  • Education
  • Past experience
  • Awards
  • Publications
  • Media

Aim for consistency as there's bound to be someone with a name like yours:

  • Formal or informal?, initials, ORCiD
  • Photograph – situate this in your workplace or in the field. Think about using it to demonstrate your skills‚Äč

When the profiles are up to date, you can increase traffic to them by adding links to your email signature.


This is the way you engage yourself online in relation to your profession, including your attitudes, actions and your adherence to relevant professional codes of conduct. Developing a professional presence online requires (regular) reflection on the use of social media, the sites and language used and the (automatic) links between online accounts.

The University of Edinburgh, Managing your Digital Footprint 

Your online conduct should be underpinned by integrity, respect, dutifulness, honour and accountability.

Remember that the world is watching you and consider very carefully the topics that you comment on and the language that you use.


Click on the tools below to find out more. Videos on Linkedin and Twitter are at the end of the section. Using social media is a great way to increase the coverage your work receives. If you aren't sure what you can share with followers and peers, check out How can I Share It?

If you have access to profile space on your departmental/faculty website, make use of it. This is free space to promote and link to your work. If anyone searches for you they will be able to see that you are a legitimate member of the university and it will add authenticity to posts you make elsewhere on the web. Write about your current research and showcase any talks you given or publications.

Linkedin is a networking site for all sectors which gives you the opportunity to create an online portfolio, which is useful at all stages of your career, not just when job hunting. Make sure it is up-to-date, now and in the future. It isn't a CV, though you can link to one. Instead make a readable and evidenced account of your activities to date. Include media (such as Powerpoint presentations - see Slideshare below) where you can. Look at peers for ideas. It is also useful to find out what others have done in their careers to help you plan your own and to connect with others. If you are contacting someone you don't know that well, make it personal; for example, include a reminder about which conference you heard them talk at. and ResearchGate are profile sites which are geared towards researchers. They are, however, still for-profit enterprises. They work in a similar way to Linkedin to showcase your talents and connect you with other researchers. While they may encourage you to upload your research papers you should be wary of the copyright restrictions around your research and even if you upload a pre-print, which may be permitted by the publisher, they are not a recognised repository for Open Access that meets funder requirements. You should instead deposit in the University's repository, Apollo, and add links to your profiles. For more information about Open Access, look at our tab 'Publishing your research'.

Any published author can set up a profile on Google Scholar. Click on the menu and select 'My profile'. Fill in the details and select the articles that match your name (you can fine tune this later). Choose to make your account public or private. You will then have access to citations statistics about you, your articles and books, as indexed in Google Scholar. You can cite these on your web page profile. Find out more about citations on our Measuring the Impact of your Research tab

This can be used in three ways:

  • Promotion - tell people about your research, publications, talks. Link to more in-depth information on a departmental webpage, conference site or blog. There are lots of people going through the same process as you and they'll be interested to hear your approaches to dealing with the challenges of research.
  • Sociological research - there is a wealth of qualitative data available from individual subjects about current world events, and organisations such as NGOs, governments, and influential individuals.
  • Keep up to date - follow peers, key academics, conferences and hashtags specific to your field to monitor developments and publications.


You may have noticed entries in your bibliography relating to the same person, but where their name appears differently. The may have a first name and surname, or an initial and surname, or a first name, initial and surname. This can make it difficult for you to track their publications and for the author to track their citations. An ORCiD gets around this problem. This is a unique number that belongs to you and moves with you through your career, regardless of whether you change you name or it is printed differently by a publisher. Link your ORCiD number to your Symplectic profile.

Upload presentations that you deliver in college (such as at the Wolfson Research Event), your department, or at workshops and conferences as PowerPoint shows or pdfs. Provide a detailed description so that it can be found easily on search engines and Slideshare itself. Remember that your notes will be stored with the slideshow and so you may want to edit the presentation before uploading it. Showcase your research by linking to the show to from your profile on the University website or Linkedin (who own Slideshare)

This video gets you thinking about the different aspects of creating an online profile on Linkedin

This video explains how to use Twitter as a student or researcher.

Managing your footprint

Managing you footprint is not just about tailoring the information that you put online, it also relates to the information about you that others have posted on the web. There are several tools to help you keep an eye out this:

Set up a Google alert to inform you whenever you are mentioned online. Remember to carefully construct the alert in order to exclude false hits. This is especially important if have a common name. Be as specific as you can and include terms relevant to you and your research.

Me and My Shadow - rather ominously talks not about footprints but digital shadows. This ethical website contains lots of information on how data about you is being collected, what is being done with it and, most usefully, alternatives to mainstream services. [note: this is no longer updated but still contains some very useful information].

Social Profiling Tool for Graduates - Use this tool to find and delete old social profiles, lock down social media profiles (make invisible unless they know you), find which social profiles you’re lacking and carry out research for job seeking.

Apply Magic Sauce - created by the Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge, this is a personalisation engine that accurately predicts psychological traits from digital footprints of human behaviour. Part of this is revealing where you appear on the web.

My permissions - a service to check which apps have access to your personal data 

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