The blogosphere sounds like a strange galaxy in another dimension, but is the term used to refer to all blogs (such as this one!) and their interconnections. Readers of blogs share their thoughts and views in a collected community. Academic blogs tend to focus on professional topics, showing explicit connections between blog content, research issues and academic life, and more academics than ever are now engaging with the blogosphere to share their work, establish networks and connections, and to develop their careers. But are the benefits really that great?
Academics who blog regularly report positive outcomes, such as networking and collaborating, finding new audiences and opportunities, disseminating research more widely, and building reputation. Bloggers argue that far from diluting scholarly success (as has been suggested by some academics), online writing can be a serious tool for academic practice. Blogging should be seen as part of a programme of dissemination and collaboration, and is best used alongside traditional academic outlets (such as journals) as a means of amplifying the reach and potentially the significance and future direction of the research.
Blogs are usually accessed by a different audience to traditional forms of academic dissemination. They are freely accessible to a global audience, and their public, collaborative nature has helped many academics to develop new relationships with students, peers and other audiences (such as schools, charities, the general public, etc) and to develop cross-disciplinary partnerships. The accessibility and exposure to different audiences tends to broaden reputations, which opens up new professional possibilities. Blogging can lead to further research and knowledge exchange work, public presentations and interviews, as well as invitations to write for academic publications.
Academic blogging is a method of public engagement, allowing academics to connect and share their work with the public, generating mutual benefit for both blog authors and readers. This can help to build trust and understanding of universities, and can increase our relevance to, and impact, on society.
Academic bloggers at BU include:
- Christos Gatzidis – Dr Christos Gatzidis’ Scientific Diary
- Dimitrios Buhalis – Dimitrios Journeys
- Darren Lilleker – Politics, PR and Marketing
- Media School blog
- School of Tourism blog
If you’d like access to add posts about your research to the Research Blog or would like your own blog then let me know.
Visitors to my blog will notice a peak of activity and a recent trough of inactivity, and this is the caveat to starting an academic blog. Time!! There are a few basic rules for blogging. Keep it simple and engaging; Keep it topical and interesting; Keep updating. At the peak of blogging I probably spent 1-2 hours per day locating and researching stories, composing the post, finding accompanying visuals and (sadly) fighting with the formatting. It is time which can detract from other activities. There were clear benefits, however, as Julie notes. But do consider the time it will take and if starting a blog consider how often you wnat to post and set aside that time to blog.
Julie makes some very valid points on this; the audience for an academic blog will inevitably be very different to the audience for a scientific publication through the usual routes and it is important to try and adjust to that.
For my blog I have attempted (to the best of my abilities anyway) to include a healthy mix of not just research news but also other interesting related developments (not just in the world of academia/academic research). As a result of this I often refer undegraduate students to my blog as well as industry contacts and find that it makes for a very good calling card.