The how’s and why’s of blogging

As mentioned in the previous post, blogging among academics is something that has been growing within the past several years. While not always written about the peer-reviewed literature, academic blogging has gained lots of attention from other outlets including the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and the Guardian (here and here).

Proponents of blogging tout many reasons and benefits to maintaining a blog. Blogging can help improve your writing, expand knowledge transfer, expand your readership and collaborative networks, and promote ideas. Blogging forces academics to write less obscurely, less erudite. Blog posts, in comparison with journal articles, are kept simple and clear. Academic blogging has become a low intensity practice that can offer writers a space to think in progress. The blog is viewed as a continuation of an academic’s identity and publication history.

One of my international colleagues, Siobhan O’Dwyer, PhD, maintains an excellent blog that describes her research and more about herself. Her post titled “The curated self” illustrates nicely how and why blogs can be woven into academic life.

Several IFNA members maintain blogs, including Lorraine Wright and Janice Bell.

Writing for a blog is a bit different than writing for a peer-reviewed journal. But it’s not hard. This post about how to transform your research article into a blog post by Patrick Dunleavy gives some easy to follow tips on getting your research out there in a new way.

Another resource is the University of Richmond Writing Center, which offers 4 key points to consider when blogging: getting to and sticking to the point of the post, using images judiciously, not relying completely on multimedia, and remembering that posts are not journal articles. Yet another resource of style can be found here.

Still not convinced? Recent studies have shown an increase in the number of citations of research articles mentioned in blogs and on other social media platforms (e.g., Twitter). Blogging serves as another innovative way of disseminating research findings that can have a positive impact on traditional metrics related to academic success.

Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.

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