I began working as a lecturer (academic tenure-track position) at BGU in 2006. When I arrived, there was a researcher website that new faculty were required to complete. I was relatively young at the time, and new to the system, but I remembered a tip given to me by my advisor and mentor, the distinguished P.A. Hancock. Long time before the “me too” campaign, Peter pointed out that in order to counter prejudice and bias of reviewers towards females, female researchers should avoid writing their full names on grant and article submissions and use initials instead (e.g., Jennifer is better off signing J.). Since my name is Tal (morning dew in Hebrew), and Tal is a common name for both genders in Israel, I could still use my name without hesitation.
Back to the story, the BGU website (Researcher profile) required filling the date of birth and place of birth. With Peter’s tip in mind and some notion of privacy, I decided not to fill my year of birth (I did not want anyone to think that I was too young :) or place. It so happened that since I did not fill this information, the default was filled instead. And so I found that in 2006, I was born in Uganda in 1921!!! Why Uganda? My guess is that it is because Uganda in Hebrew begins with an Aleph (the first alphabetical letter in Hebrew) so probably it was the first country on the list. Why 1921? probably the eldest faculty member in the BGU system at the time?!
This research profile seemed to have a life of its own, at some point, it was not possible to edit the system anymore, it became outdated and was replaced by another Profiler. But somehow, it still seemed to draw some information from the BGU system: note that at some point my year of birth changed to 1926, somewhere in 2013, when I was promoted to Associate professor, this information was updated as well, and in 2015 when I became the department Chair, that also was included in my academic position list. What did not change? everything else, my research interests, my research projects because I no longer had access to the system.
Not long after I arrived at BGU, researchers were asked to fill information on another researcher profile. I do not recall exactly when, but the picture tells that it was quite close to the time I arrived (2006). A close look at this profile, which I can no longer update either, shows again the confusion: I am a professor and a senior lecturer at the same time :), I am also the head of the department (since 2015), but nothing else seems right. And why would anyone care that 15 years ago, in 2003, I finished my PhD under the supervision of David Shinar? Is this really the most important information on a researcher’s website?
Recently (2017), I was invited to give a lecture somewhere. My host introduced me as Prof. Oron-Gilad and then someone from the crowd said: why are you calling yourself a professor, you are only a senior lecturer, I saw it on your website.
Lastly, to end the story with some optimism, by the end of 2017, BGU has launched a new research profiling system. So far it is current and can be updated by the researchers (Yeah!). But, its hard to find the profiles because they were not indexed yet or linked to the BGU website. At least here everything is up to date, for now.
Take home message: Not everything you see is true.