There are several reasons why you might want to consider blogging as a researcher. Blogging requires a different writing style than traditional academic writing but it can still be great practice for writing-up and can help you get into the habit of writing regularly. It is also a great way of establishing yourself as an expert in your area and enhancing your online profile.
Blog posts tend to be much shorter than academic papers, allowing you to breakdown your ideas into smaller, more accessible blocks. This can help you to develop your ideas and gives you an opportunity to solicit feedback from other academics at an early stage. Take a look at the Qubio blog which was shortlisted in the Blog Awards Ireland 2015 to give you an idea of how other research students are blogging.
Blogs are read by a wide audience outside the academic community therefore blogging is also a great way to share your research findings with a new audience that do not read academic journals. This can allow you to communicate directly with the people that your research is intended to help. However, before publishing any of of your research findings, discuss the implications with your supervisor.
“What have I learned as a research student?”
Before starting your blog, decide on a clear purpose and discuss your ideas with your supervisor. To identify possible topics, ask yourself, “What have I learned as a research student?” Think about who your target audience will be and why they would be interested in what you have to say. Plan posts for the first few months in advance to help you stay focused and be sure you have enough content to keep the blog active.
When writing content for your blog, think carefully about your tone. Humour and sarcasm are sometimes difficult to convey online, especially if you are not blogging in your first language. Also, consider how others may be affected by your posts and how they could react. Could your content cause controversy or have a negative impact on research subjects, funding bodies or the University?
Start by researching blogs similar to your interests and commenting on them
While there are lots of benefits to blogging as a researcher, keep in mind that blogging is not for everyone! Some people are more suited to academic writing and find it difficult to adopt the more informal tone necessary for social media. To help you decide if your writing can be aligned with blogging, start by researching blogs similar to your interests and commenting on them. You could even offer to write an article as a guest for an established blog and gauge the feedback from it to help you decide if you have potential as a blogger.
Finally, remember, not everyone will agree with you so if you don’t think you can handle negative comments, it may be better to find other outlets for your research!