Managing Your Scholarly Reputation Score

Managing Your Scholarly Reputation Score

There’s a number in the making about you. It’s not your weight, cholesterol, or credit rating. It has nothing to do with your health or finances, and it’s unlikely barely even noticeable yet, but for scholars it is available right now and for those who can’t find it or know where to look, it’s being manufactured through an Internet website algorithm with your name tied to it and it could significantly impact your career.  What is this number some contemporary scholars have been chasing and thousands more are surely soon to follow?  Your scholarly community reputation score.

From Publication to Community Reputation

No longer are scholars just bound to their ability to get published in journals that are ranked based on an array of criteria (e.g.,  A and B journals, or present at tier one conferences. These criteria were selected and defined by a small number of experts. Of course, academicians should continue to publish and present their work in these venues, but the advent of the Internet has given rise to, the voice of the users, and such voice has led to a new form of reputation systems that is based on users’ approval and feedback.

This new form of reputation systems that is based on usage by peer consumers (think movie reviews, Rotten Tomatoes, Yelp for Restaurants, Google for services), contrary to the expert-based (think professional reviewers) evaluation systems (e.g. Zagat for restaurant), has become more popular and relevant to consumers making their choices. This open access has now made its way to the Internet scholarly community and your reputation may depend on it!

Extending reputation systems for consumer goods to the academy, the advent of the Internet has resulted in the proliferation of open access journals that publicly display the number of downloads per article, academy evaluative websites or online communities (e.g., Google Scholar that publishes the number of citations, SSRN, ResearchGate, and Academia), for example, where scholars must now earn their reputation based on new algorithms whether they choose to partake or not. Various academic evaluative websites or communities compile data and assign a public community engagement score and prominently feature this demarcation with each scholar’s name.

Setting up Your Google Scholar Citation Page

What must one do to positively impact his or her score?  List your publications and engage. Start answering and asking scholarly questions. Interact and obtain followers. Only those visibly active in the community can get their just desserts, as the famous adage goes. You snooze, you lose. But to even remotely impact your score, like the lottery you must enter to play. To keep track of citations associated with your published articles and conference proceedings, set up your Google Scholar page now.

  1. While logged into your Gmail account search Google Scholar for your name or any variation of it.
  2. Then you can allow Google Scholar to publish your scholarly record page with the click of a public approval button.
  3. This can be your one stop shop to examine how many others have cited your works found through Google Scholar.
  4. But it will be available for everyone to publicly peruse.

ResearchGate’s Reputation Score is Waiting for You

What has done to bookstores and Google to search engines, has led ResearchGate to the current behemoth of scholarly reputation sites. If you have not set your page up, click here. If you have, consider the types of questions that you feel you are most qualified to answer and reach out to your scholarly counterparts the worldover. The more you do, the higher your scholarly community reputation score can grow. Conversely, the more you inquire and ask about their work, the more your score also can grow.

You Can Run, But Will You Hide?

Indeed, it can be time consuming and much work to chase such a community engagement score let alone the ramifications of these scores in future decisions such as tenure, department standing, or the ability to earn the right to collaborate with those in the highest echelon score. Popular scholarly websites now, may wane and give rise to others one can only imagine.  Scholars can still choose to hide, remaining dormant below the Internet algorithm radar or jump in, run and stand out from the crowd. It’s your choice. How will you manage your scholarly reputation score?

Fiona Sussan, Center for Global Business Research, senior university research chair and Ryan Rominger, Center for Leadership Studies and Educational Research, associate university research chair, contributed to this blog. 


Fiona Sussan's picture Fiona Sussan | May 1, 2017 6:20 am MST

This is a very timely discussion. As we (Dr. Charles Osbourne, Dr. Richard Hall) were working on the project of digital privacy last year (ICSB conference paper), we concluded that there is a private self and there is a 'public self' that is manufactured on the Internet that we cannot hide from. In other words, in today's digital environment, every keystroke, every mobilie phone call, every Google map that we use form a part of our 'digital self' or 'digitized self' that is being captured by Big Data  - and the worst part of it is we cannot escape from this digital footprint (well, EU has some law allowing one to erase some of the results of one's digital self).

On the bright side, we can also use the technology to our advantage like what Erik has shown us - step by step one can build one's 'digital self' in the scholarly world and be engaged with peers. 

Erik Bean's picture Erik Bean | May 1, 2017 10:53 am MST

Thank you, Fiona, and coincidently even more timely with the recent release of the April 28th film The Circle. Here Tom Hanks portrays a president of a social networking company that would like to have all citizens go "transparent" on the Internet. The film is a commentary on the pros and cons of living our lives in cyberspace. Like the new scholarly public community reputation score, the tug and pull is snarled between the pros and cons of having a digital footprint. I know so many who work real hard to have no presence, but that means little accomplishments or insignificant track record too. But I often tell my students every time you visit a website the website visits you!  Some with simple browser cookies to help with login or general history and others more aggressive. So, I wholeheartedly agree with you that we can take charge of the positive digital side and work on posting what represents the best of our scholarly work and reputation as is befitting. Your scholary expertise and commentary in this space is examplary!

James Rice's picture James Rice | May 1, 2017 6:48 am MST

Dr. Bean's blog post raises many excellent points. Publication is important. However, academic and professional interaction is also key to becoming an effective scholar. Our personal academic reputations are based on the creation, application, and sharing of knowledge. Journals are an excellent venue to ensure the quality of our creation. Conferences are useful tools to interact with peers and develop an academic network and begin the sharing of our knowledge. However, UOPX strives to bring academic opportunities to the online world and it makes sense that we should also strive to apply and share our academic work here as well. 

University of Phoenix is a school that strives to expand the acacemid community through on-line interaction and through electronic means. On-line venues, such as google scholar, researchgate, and phoenix connect are excellent tools to inspire discussion and collaboration among our peers. They are also a natural extension to the methods used by University of Phoenix to develop scholars. It only makes sense that there should be a way to measure our particpation in the academic on-line world.

I have and use my accounts on the Research Hub, Phoenix Connect and Research Gate. Now, I am going to go build my Google Scholar page.  

This is a wonderful and very timely post. Thank you!

Erik Bean's picture Erik Bean | May 1, 2017 12:02 pm MST

Hi James, your input here is much appreciated. As practitioners, we know that our scholarly community is better served through new types of communications. The popularity of social networks and those that now cater to scholars can help bridge the gap between the academy and the practice. Such websites can achieve connections much faster than simply waiting for work to be peer reviewed. It appears a mix between rigorous scholarship and serving to assist others is the new paradigm shift. Thank you for your service to students and to the doctoral education practice!

Norris Krueger's picture Norris Krueger | May 17, 2017 10:48 am MST

Late to the party, but I agree -- this is an important topic. Like it or not, your scholarly FICO score is even more public than your financial one... 

People look for your h-index on Google Scholar, etc. More measures are coming - most of these metrics count quantity not quality but those indices are right around the corner: Who is citing you? Are the top people citing you? The better journals? Are you cited globally? Are you being cited by highly-cited articles, etc? 

But it is also an opportunity to see your impact and as these metrics evolve, it's invaluable to be ready. Erik's nudging to take a couple minutes to set up your profile at Google Scholar is spot on.

One final thought: You can see who is downloading you at places like ResearchGate - sometimes these are people well worth reaching out to. At least click the 'thank you' button :) but on ResearchGate you also have the opportunity to recommend that work and further build your own research network.

Thanks, Erik!


Erik Bean's picture Erik Bean | May 19, 2017 8:04 am MST

Hi Norris, it is never too late to present thoughtful suggestions!  Even those ResearchGate thank yous or when one shares his or her article or asks for feedback are part of the interactive algorithm. Thanks for stopping by. Your expertise in this space cannot be over appreciated!  When all is said and done, the chance to network and perhaps join other researchers with their projects is worth more than any public score!  

Jimmy Earley's picture Jimmy Earley | June 8, 2017 7:34 am MST

As a new researcher working through the Doctoral process I found this information extremly valuable and believe in protecting ones online identity.  The world is everchanging and those who fail to adapt are left wondering what happened.  Being of the older generation I find Millineals are driving the future thus to remain relevant one must adapt to their changes.  I have created a Google Scholar account and submitted the Research Gate account request



Erik Bean's picture Erik Bean | June 14, 2017 6:02 pm MST

JIm, thank you for stopping by!  Agreed. The technology and the speed with which we can all contribute to shaping new knowledge is on the Internet table. As long as we do not forget how it fits into the literature and the rigor at which our studies must be designed, we can impact other researchers who, like us, may be on the cusp of the next meaningful great idea. All the best as your visibility increases.

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