Make an impact with a great PWP
It’s easy to set up simple Professional Web Pages (PWPs) which draw basic information such as your title, name and department from existing College sources. But to really get the most out of PWPs, it’s worth taking the time to do the best job possible. A good PWP can:
- attract collaborators, funders
- boost your work and career
Our guide to producing a great PWP
PWPs are your blank canvas to use as you wish, and there’s not a single right way to do things. Having said there are certain approaches that can help to tailor your PWP to certain audiences.
Choose a good profile picture
Perhaps the first thing to do, is to source a good, clear image of yourself in a professional setting. This always helps to make your pages personable, relatable and memorable. Imperial has fairly regular photoshoots for free, so it’s worth checking when the next session is.
Choose a point of view
Many people find it very difficult to write about themselves. For that reason, you might find it easier to write in the third person (narrative) perspective. This can provide some professional distance and objectivity.
" “Molly Stevens is currently Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine and the Research Director for Biomedical Material Sciences in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College. She joined Imperial in 2004 ….”"
This approach may be the most effective if your key intended audiences are in the corporate world. For example, potential industrial funders and sponsors.
Nevertheless, a first person narrative might come more naturally to some people. It can be a little more personal, and lend itself better to certain audiences. For example, patients if clinical work or teaching is a large portion of your role. Bear in mind that students may search for you online to read about your course and approach to education.
"“I am a passionate educator and am deeply involved with providing the best quality chemical engineering education possible. My teaching interests are focused on the use of blended learning approaches, specifically including high-quality educational videos, to enhance chemical engineering education. I have my own YouTube Channel devoted to Chemical Engineering teaching and research, called Chem Eng Resources.”"
" “I am a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Life Sciences. My background is plant sciences and the biotransformation of wood preservatives, but I'm now most actively involved in leading first year teaching on the Biological Sciences BSc degree stream.”"
Whatever point of view you choose, be consistent throughout – don’t start in the third person, then switch to first person. You could confuse your readers.Break things in up with sections and pages
Break things in up with sections and pages
You’ll see that your PWP has a number of pages that can be navigated with a menu of horizontal tab links. Some of these tabs are for specific items, such as Publications (there’s a separate guide for using sympletic elements to populate this page) and Honours and Memberships. There are also ‘extra pages’ to fill with different content you want.
You can break up the non-specific pages with subheadings. This makes it easier for the reader to navigate and avoids large walls of unbroken text. This is particularly off-putting if the reader is using a mobile device.
Some people choose to start with a short summary or personal statement about your current function at Imperial. This can useful if you’ve got different roles, say teaching, research, administrative duties or if you sit between two departments or institutions.
"“I am an Honorary Lecturer in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London. I am also Assistant Professor in Clinical Epidemiology in the Department of Health Services Research and Policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (see here).”"
Following a summary, it can be useful to include another subheading about your background. This could include how you arrived at the position you are in now. It can give some context and is helpful if you’ve changed specialism. For example, have a broader interest and expertise than your current role might first suggest.
"“Originally I trained as a marine microbial ecologist at the University of Warwick and Plymouth Marine Laboratory and at the University of Liverpool, switching focus to respiratory tract microbial ecology with a Visiting Fellowship at the University of California San Francisco in 2008.”"
"“Maria graduated in medicine at the University of Navarra (Pamplona, Spain). Her interest in academic psychiatry developed when she was a clinical psychiatry trainee. She completed her specialist clinical training in psychiatry at the Hospital Santiago Apostol in Vitoria (Spain), whilst she began her academic career in the Department of Neuroscience, University of the Basque Country (Bilbao-Leioa, Spain).”"
Find the right tone
It is important to accurately describe your work, research and area of specialism to instil a full appreciation of it and credibility among your peers. This requiresa certain degree of detail and technical terminology. But, without a basic-level introduction to your work, you are narrowing your audience. For example, potential philanthropic funders might have a general interest in a certain area, but be unaware your focus lies within that broader area. Other people reading your PWP might be potential collaborators from a related field or a different discipline, who may not initially see the links between your work.
Try to get to the crux of what your work is about quickly and its longer-term, wider impact on society. You can always go into more specific detail on the separate ‘Research’ pages.
"“His research is centred on heat transfer, combustion and fire. The purpose of his work is to reduce the worldwide burden of accidental fires and protect people, their property, and the environment. His research portfolio is ample, but over the last 15 years he is best known in three areas: 1) how polymers and wood ignite so we can avoid fires from starting; 2) how engineers can design better structures that resist fire; and 3) how wildfires spread and how to fight them.”"
Sometimes it can be helpful to use analogies, to aid understanding of certain difficult concepts and ideas.
"“I am investigating the role of microglia in brain disease. Microglia are referred to as the “policemen of the brain” because they activate in response to almost any brain injury. This includes inflammatory disease like multiple sclerosis (MS) but also degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (and many others too). The way in which microglia respond to these diseases is very important, because the microglial response partly determines how fast the disease progresses.”"
Being part of the Imperial community
A large section of people reading your PWP will be part of the Imperial community in some way. PWPs can be important for internal networking – getting yourself known at the institution. A key part of Imperial’s Strategy is to create “a supportive and considerate community based on diversity, mutual respect and a commitment to excellence”. You may wish to highlight any schemes you are part of e.g. Active Bystander training, Mental Health First Aiders, Athena SWAN coordination.
"“Victoria is Director of Development and Opportunities for the Department of Medicine and its Athena Lead. Before that she was the Faculty of Medicine Athena SWAN Coordinator from 2013 to 2016, and is extremely committed to working towards a better working culture at Imperial. Her hobbies used to be reading and astronomy.....she now has three young children.”"
"“The Department aims to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all of our staff and students. As an out gay man, I have always found Imperial a great place to work and study. I am a member of Imperial600 (our staff LGBT+ group).”"
Including interests and hobbies outside of academia
Some staff will never feel comfortable talking about their private lives, and that’s fine. But a short paragraph following at the bottom of your PWP may help you appear more personable and approachable. It could even lead to some unexpected opportunities and career avenues.
"“Outside of work I am a keen photographer. This hobby has now found its way into my work activities - I undertake ad-hoc photography for the department. I am also the guitarist in a department rock band composed mainly of the technicians. We usually preform once a year at the department revue.”"
"“When I am not busy running computer simulations or making experiments with high-velocity impact testing machines, I also sing (mostly jazz and rock) and play guitar.”"