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Digital identity

In this article, Dr Lee Fallin introduces the concept of digital identity and why it is an important element of scholarly communication
© Image by Reto Scheiwiller from Pixabay

All the information that you share online contributes to your digital identity. Your identity is made of what you consciously share on the internet, however, it may also include things you did not consciously share. For this reason, you need to carefully manage your online activities and curate your online identity.

Digital identity is the online representation of an individual within a community, as adopted by that individual and/or projected by others. An individual may have multiple digital identities in multiple communities. Andy Powell – eFoundations Blog

As suggested by the above quote, many individuals construct multiple identities online. Sometimes this is to keep personal, business and/or study in separate digital silos to stop personal issues blending into professional spaces. Others construct online identities as pseudonyms to isolate their true selves from their online activity. This can be to protect personal information about themselves, to hide something they perceive as embarrassing or to shroud criminal activity.

There is nothing wrong with having multiple identities and often the services people use online encourage this. For example, the popular social network Facebook encourages people to connect socially with friends and family whereas LinkedIn encourages people to act professionally and connect with colleagues and business professionals. This leads people to act differently on each service, creating unique identities on each service. This kind of isolation is useful as it ensures what you share is appropriate to the audience. However, just as you may be creating your own digital identities, you need to be aware that other users are doing the same.

Digital identity and scholarly communication

It is important to carefully consider your digital identity alongside scholarly communication. As the last activity has down, scholarly communication is a broad concept, covering all aspects of the research cycle. For example, when focusing on the dissemination of research, it is important to consider your own identity alongside this. In academic work, you and your name is an essential aspect of scholarly communication. Ultimately, scholarly work is attributed to the author(s). You and your name will become associated with your research, and so your broader profile needs careful consideration when trying to increase the readership and audience of your work. You need to carefully consider how you manage (and perhaps separate) professional and personal identities.

It’s also important to ensure you don’t get your identity crossed with anyone else. For this reason, researchers should use ORCID:


ORCID stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID. ORCID provides a unique, persistent identifier for researchers to use as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation. It is a free, unique, persistent identifier (PID) for individuals to use as they engage in research, scholarship, and innovation activities.

© University of Hull
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