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Who Looks at your Stanford Profile?

An interview with Dr. Joseph Forrester, Assistant Professor of Surgery,Department of Surgery, Stanford University (

We turned to the Stanford Medicine community to find examples of real people using tools to track and promote their online scholarly presence. We sat down with Dr. Forrester to learn how he uses Stanford Profiles to do just that*. Read on to find out how you can employ similar habits to increase your own impact!

*This interview has been edited for brevity.

Stanford Profiles

How has building out your Stanford Profile benefitted you?

It provides a single point of entry for people who are interested in who I am, what I do, and how I work. Stanford makes it the number one hit anytime anyone googles my name. It’s really useful when thinking about patients trying to find a provider, or physicians finding someone to collaborate with or refer to. The other thing that comes to mind is that when you are approached by media relations folks, it’s very easy for people to pull information from it.

You have several “featured publications” starred on your profile. How do you decide which publications to highlight?

What the starring function allows me to do is to help the viewer of the website [understand] what I think is most important. It’s a way to highlight what are the more important projects that I’m doing, and the research I’m interested in currently.

Most of the content on your Stanford profile is visible publicly. What benefits do you receive from sharing your profile information with people outside the Stanford community?

Mostly the Google search results. The vast majority of the content [on my profile] is stuff that people can find anyways. For patients it is nice. They or their families see me in the hospital, but they like seeing what [research] you’re up to.

Your Bio section clearly and concisely demonstrates the impact you have on your field. What advice do you have for others who are considering adding a public bio to their profile? What do you think is important to highlight?

I think for patients, and people in general, they really want a story. You have to be able to list your accomplishments, but in a way that’s not just ‘listing your accomplishments’. Approach it as ‘this is what I want to get across’ but share it in a way that won’t turn people away. Make it consumable but not colloquial. People need to understand what you’re saying.

Beyond Stanford Profiles: Advice for Boosting Impact

You also mention advising and mentoring, and put out an invitation for undergrads/med students/residents to contact you about mentoring opportunities. How do you feel mentorship and outreach fit into the conversation of research impact?

My general belief is that you want to surround yourself with people who are able to amplify your productivity. If you’re working by yourself and expect people to show up at your doorstep, one would not be reaching their full potential. 

Actively recruiting your mentees is the best way to fulfill the mission of the university and the healthcare entity, and it keeps you productive. If you aren’t actively seeking mentees, you’re missing out on an opportunity.

In what other ways do you maintain your scholarly presence online?

I have [a] Google Scholar [profile]. I’m not as good as I could be at using things like Twitter. I think like Facebook and Instagram, people are recognizing the long-term deleterious effects of using social media. The same is true professionally. It becomes very easy to get sucked into a comparison trap and start feeling ‘less than.’ In an ideal world I’d have someone who does it for me so I don’t have to feel so emotionally invested.

What advice do you have for early career professionals who are trying to increase the impact and visibility of their work?

I think you want to be cognizant of your online presence, and make sure that you represent yourself as much as possible. But don’t get so caught up in how you appear to others that you lose sight of who you want to become yourself. It’s easy at the beginning of your career to get pulled in different directions. If you don’t stay true to yourself, it’s easy to get pulled in a direction that you don’t want to go. In some ways having an online profile is a way to check in with yourself and see if [you’re] still on a trajectory that [you] want to be on.

Would you like to learn about more ways to increase your impact? Our 2022 Research Impact Challenge wrapped up on September 16th, but you can still complete the challenge tasks to boost your impact.

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