Wanna learn how to blog? Intensive conversations

Photo by Francesco Ungaro | unsplash.com

Happy week two of #LTUAcWriMo! 

Eagle eyed readers of our Academic Writing Month 2020 program may have noticed that this year we have planned our schedule to zoom in on a particular topic each week. In week one we had a special focus on our writing retreat and thesis writing, and in week three and four we will focus on journal writing and book publishing, respectively. For this week, we have kept our focus on writing for academic blogs, by offering a three-day intensive called ‘Blogging your Research’. 

This is the third time that we (Jamie and Tseen) have run this intensive. Each time we have run these workshops we have tried to give an orientation to blogging as well as a 'behind the scenes tour' of the processes of creating, managing and promoting a blog. 

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 time we ran the workshop we did this again, compiling the responses of our participants and going live with it in the final workshop under the title To blog or not to blog? Learning together to avoid getting blogged down. This process allows our participants to see the inside of the platform that we use for the RED Alert blog, and to discuss the pros and cons of a number of editorial choices that might be made to present a blog post to the world. 

For this post, we asked our participants to write about the key lessons that they learned about blogging during our intensive. We have assembled their thoughtful responses below with the hope that they will offer other readers a window on the interesting world of academic blogging. 


Jennifer Jones, School of Humanities & Social Sciences: I can more clearly appreciate the planning and actions that I need to take to establish and manage a blog. The workshop approach was very accessible and compelling, even for a relatively sceptical ‘late adopter’ like me. I can now see how flexible the blog medium can be for my academic communication purposes. Keep an eye out for my new blog RRR Writers which will support regional, rural, remote and socially isolated writers to gain and maintain writing productivity.

Frances Deen, School of Life Sciences: Blogs are a great way to create a community and start a conversation, for everyone to engage with interesting ideas and perspectives. The best thing is that anyone can start a blog! We have the whole internet at the touch of a button, we can share our passions, our interests and even our research with the whole world and connect with all kinds of people. We have the opportunity for free speech, to share our opinions and ideas and it is a great starting point for anyone and everyone! 

Karen SydeJesus, Institute for Culture & Society: I used to use my blogs (private) to work out stuff or to file random musings. It’s a fun playground for all my stuff- academic or not. Now that I am ready to take it more seriously the Blogging your Research intensive has given me concrete tools to develop a structure and an approach that will help me manage and sustain this space. And not to forget: it’s a commitment ! Thanks to Tseen and Jamie and my workshop-mates. 

Rebecca Watson, School of Nursing & Midwifery: I have learnt that there is a lot to think about and review before starting your blogging journey! Plenty of planning and scheduling in the background, thinking about the tone of voice you want to use, whether you include guest posts, allowing for editing, comment options, visuals and how will you promote your blog to your intended audience...? Clearly it’s important to keep it relevant, interesting and post in a timely manner. A big thanks to Tseen and Jamie for a wonderful series of workshops! 

A researcher, School of Humanities & Social Sciences: A key lesson I learned about blogging was that we can design a blog in such a way that supports our learning and promotes progress towards our research goals. A blog lends space for writing about the PhD experience as well as for sharing papers and articles, and so it can serve as a motivational tool that enables you to track your progress in a more creative way. Doing this workshop was worthwhile despite my not being quite ready to start a blog. I'm leaving this workshop with a very clear plan in mind, and a real desire to get started.

Sandi, School of Science, Health, & Engineering: The key take home from my experience in this intensive is around planning. This is something lacking in my overall approach to most things and is something worth considering for becoming a blogger.

Siona Fernandes, School of Exercise & Nutrition: Opportunities don't happen, you have to create them. But to create something one must first learn how to do it. The key insights from the intensive were selecting and delivering blogs (or posts) that cover a clear theme, structure, tone, audience, while not forgetting the personality of the writer. Learnings from the various group-based discussions helped understand individual interests and approaches towards blogging our research. The intensive has helped me understand the basics so I can attempt to write my first blog post. As a student in blogging, this is my 'happy first step'.

Jayne Rantall, School of Humanities & Social Sciences: Blogging is not simply having great ideas for topics! There is a lot more to consider, particularly about how you can sustain and regularly post to your blog. I’ve learnt a lot about the time and care needed if you want your blog to be a place where a community of readers will regularly read and interact with your work.

Sandra Cowen, Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care: While participating in this workshop I learned that blogging is about starting a conversation.  Blogging should present different perspectives and include narratives of knowledge from diverse people.  In doing so blogging can provide an audience with an inclusive and comprehensive range of thoughts, options and research. While blogging is a wonderful medium, there are considerations to be made.  Firstly, policies around what content can and cannot be included should be discussed and agreed upon.  In addition, a plan should be developed to source the right guest writers for your blog.  The more time you spend during the preparation stage, the easier the process will be.

Trudie Walters, Independent Researcher (ex University of Otago): I’ve learned so much in the last 3 days, but my key takeouts are that planning is important, continuity of posts is important, and consistency of theming/formatting is important. I think I have gained enough confidence about the process of blogging to actually start a blog! I have realised that I do have a contribution to make in terms of translating my research to an external audience, and that there is a potential audience out there.


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”.