The visibility of authority records, researcher identifiers, academic social networking profiles, and related faculty publications in search engine results

Co-authored with Jody Condit Fagan

Journal of Web Librarianship, 13(2)


Information about faculty and their publications can be found in library databases such as the Library of Congress Name Authority File, VIAF, WorldCat, and institutional repositories; in identifier registries such as ORCID and ISNI; and on academic social networking sites such as Academia, Google Scholar, and ResearchGate, but the way search engines use such identifiers and profiles is unclear. Therefore, researchers at a large comprehensive university conducted several rounds of web searching before and after the creation and modification of faculty authority records. The sample consisted of 24 faculty and the 35 publications associated with their authorities. The researchers searched for the faculty and their publications on the social networking and identity websites directly, and then used Google, Bing, and Google Scholar to record which of the faculty members’ profiles and publications were found within the top 50 results. Faculty with more profiles were more visible in search engine results, and faculty with authority records ranked more highly in Google. Results related to publication discovery and ranking were more inconclusive, but revealed clear differences between search tools. The implications of this exploratory research can support educational efforts about academic identities and scholarly profiles, begin a research agenda, and inform methodological development surrounding the influence of identity records and academic social networking profiles on web visibility.