Blogging your research: Who, what, when, how....and why?

Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash

What is a blog? Why might researchers write posts or think about creating a blog of their own? What goes in to managing a blog in an ongoing way? Should one work solo, with a colleague, or build a community blog? How do you get people to read your work? What are some helpful ways to grow the audience for your writing?

These are just some of the key questions that we have been pondering over the past few days in our three-day intensive ‘Blogging your Research’.  

This is the fourth time that the RED team have run this intensive. Our goal in bringing researchers together for these workshops is to demystify what building a blog might entail. For some folks in these workshops the idea of blogging is completely new, others may have had a go at blogging before but found it difficult to find a rhythm and routine.

The first time we ran this series of workshops, we asked our participants to share what they found the most valuable about the sessions, and published it live during the final workshop. The second and third time we ran the series we did this again, compiling the responses of our participants and going live with it in the final workshop under the titles To blog or not to blog? Learning together to avoid getting blogged down, and Wanna learn how to blog? Intensive conversations. This process allows our participants to see the inside of the platform that we use for the RED Alert blog, and to explore a number of editorial choices that might be made when getting a blog post out there! 

For this post, we asked our participants to write about the key things that they are thinking about at the end of our intensive. We have gathered together their responses below with the hope that they will offer other readers a window on the fascinating world of academic blogging. 

Michelle Cimoli, Speech Pathology (@MichelleCimoli): So, I’m thinking of starting a blog.Ok. Yes. I know. I still have a thesis to write.

But what if this blog is going to help me drive my way out of this PhD? To steer me towards new adventures? To meet up with people from who are interested in my research? To take a road trip to explore some of the other topics I’m interested like clinical ethics and speech pathology research capability and culture?

So, just I was ready to drive the Datsun 200B off the used car parking lot, and possibly burn the motor out before I put even 100km on the clock, I’ve decided I’ll keep catching PT for a little while longer. I’ve got a few things to think about.

What? What do I want the blog to be about? What other content is out there? What will be the purpose of my blog?

How? How will I curate the content? How will I allocate time to writing the blog?

When? When will I post? Weekly? Fortnightly? Monthly?

Why? Why do I want to do this?

Who? Who is the audience? Who can I invite to contribute to the blog? Who can I hyperlink to so that the audience can find their work too?

And who will I ask to ride alongside me?

I can see there are real benefits to creating a blog with a partner. To choosing the car together. To share the workload. To brainstorm ideas. To think about how we can make the journey fun. To support each other in doing the maintenance and occasional tyre change.  And to think about the impression we’re trying to make.

Natalie McKenna, School of Humanities & Social Sciences (@nataliemckenna):Inviting guest bloggers to write for my blog was one of the great suggestions in the blogging your research workshop. This has prompted me to consider this as a way to get started. My blog is about social media and online self-branding and I hope to reach an academic audience as well as students and the general public. The recommendation of using the image website unsplash has been helpful as has the confirmation that WordPress is a good platform to use. 

I have learned that monthly posting would be most appropriate for me.  Anymore and I won’t be able to sustain it! Considering my goals and objectives is such an important factor I had not spend time assessing and will do so.  

Akilgeeth, Independent writer/designer (@Akilgeeth)

Blogging was a new passion that I wanted to pursue for was a long time but I was always skeptical and felt I was exploring unknown territory. I read several blogs to keep myself updated but I always wanted to have my blog post. I wanted to write my thoughts and most importantly my research. As I was exploring, I came across the “ Blogging my Research “ intensive. I think I found the perfect match! In the workshops I learned as a newbie, what exactly is blogging, what is meant by knowing your audience? After understanding the audience, next comes the style/tone of the blog which I realized is very important to understand when approaching your audience.  Moving along from these, the length and frequency of uploading the posts and the pipelines with ideas for the next several posts gave me much clarity towards my plan of action. How to manage your blog especially the backend and logistics was an eye-opener giving me insights and the confidence to create my blog. Thanks for giving me clarity and the confidence to start my own blog!

Rebecca Miles-Keogh, School of Education (@rebeccahmiles)

My key takeaway from this workshop is that I need others to blog with and keep me accountable. I know blogging will be a valuable tool to use as a team and if we are able to manage it well, the rewards will be seen through impact and engagement. So many things to think about though – audience, tone, schedule, guests, queues … I’m still trying to work out my content 😊. Most importantly - what will I name it?!

Adam Staples, School of Education (@adamstaples)

Forget any previous experience you may have had as a blogger, whether be as a blogger owner, a blog contributor or both. There are several vital steps to consider in your journey towards a sustainable blogging practice. Here are the top three:

1.      Plan your new blog…name, focus, structure, aesthetic

2.      Develop a pipeline…have blog posts ready to go

3.      Call in fellow bloggers…don’t go it alone as more informed hands on deck make for a better experience for the blogger and the reader

I wish I had had this advice on the numerous occasions I have started a blog. The excitement of starting a new blog (new site, look and feel, an initial post) quickly dissipates if there is no future thinking plan in place.


Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

As you can see from these fabulous responses, there are many helpful things to think about before embarking on a journey as an academic blogger. 

If you’d like more information on blogging as a researcher see these fantastic posts written by Pat Thomson on the Patter blog.  If you’d like more encouragement for blogging, this post at Thesis Whisperer is a great read, “Why you should blog during your PhD”.