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BLOG: Does the website of your research group work for or against you?

January 17 2016

When is the last time you updated the website of your research group? Are you sure it appeals to the outside world and that your unique strengths are visible? We evaluated the websites of a number of scientific organisations and came to the conclusion that there is a lot of hidden potential to do much better. Why bother? Especially for European subsidy applications, many reviewers like to Google you and your organisation to get a better picture of the applicants. What they find might have a significant effect on how they grade your research proposal. The same holds for consortia that might be searching for an organisation just like yours to collaborate.

This news message was originally published by Jochem Bossenbroek as a blog post on LinkedIn.

So what do we find when we Google you and your organisation? If we are lucky we actually find you, plus some information on research focus, publications and coworkers. We are even more lucky when the information has recently been updated. But for 70% of the searches, this is the maximum we get. Does this really matter or do these people miss an opportunity they are unaware off?

Looking at the websites of some research groups that score one subsidy after another - there is an interesting observation to be made. A minority of the websites seem to be developed for internal use only - but the greater part has invested in a site that showcases the group in the best way possible. Whether there is actually a correlation between a clear and attractive website and higher scores in subsidies has not been proven - but we do know that it helps when your background is checked online by reviewers and they are impressed by what they see. Similarly, there is a bigger chance that those consortia looking for partners might select your organisation over others, if they get the right impression.

What is it then that impresses reviewers and potential partners? Well, these are numerous things, but to mention a few: a strong display of the purpose and vision of your group, of each research line and of each group member. Moreover, there is proof of scientific excellence - extending beyond a publication list - for example through demonstration videos, a listing of key achievements, funds that have been raised and prizes that have been won. Importantly the excellence is visible on the level of the organisation ánd of the person. Next, what is it that makes your work unique and worthwhile for others to choose you as a collaborator? Is this clear from the first glance? And have you thought about mentioning industry collaborations and valorisation activities? This shows you actually care for impact - which is one of the main scoring criteria in Horizon 2020. And how complicated is it for outsiders to navigate through your site? Does it look nice?

Each of these items - and many more - can have a definite effect on the impression a reviewer and others get of you and your research group. Time to take a closer look at your website?

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Contact

Jochem Bossenbroek, MSc
+31(0)307370779