Blogging allows PhD and Early Career researchers engage a wider research community.
Motivation | Why blog?
Blogging lets you communicate ideas in an informal setting. Think of a blog as a notepad where you accumulate thoughts. It encourages collaboration, and builds your research presence online. You won’t want to reveal all of your research findings online (don’t forget, once it’s on the web, it’s permanent!) but you can control what you post and who reads it. Whether discussing methodologies or publicising a new essay, your blog promotes your research.
Blogging is an excellent way to connect with like-minded researchers. While you may be nervous about putting your ideas ‘out there’ for public scrutiny, a healthy dialogue can bring new perspectives to your work. Funding grant conditions often require the creation of a website, which can take the blog format.
Software | Where to blog?
So, you’ve decided to blog – which software do you use?
Warwick Blogs (http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/) allows you to interact with the university blogosphere. It offers you the choice of making your posts public or restricting them to areas of the Warwick community (just staff/ students and staff/Library staff/specific web groups).
WordPress (http://wordpress.com/) offers lots of opportunities for customisation. Its editorial function allows you to delegate the writing of posts to separate authors (collaborators on a research project, for instance), leaving you as editor to publish these on completion.
Blogger (http://blogger.com/) is probably the simplest software to use. It has an intuitive interface and is Google-compatible
Style | How to blog?
Write in plain English, with short paragraphs. You can be more informal than you would for submitted work. Think about the way you would describe your research in conversation. The best way to learn is to look at other blogs and decide what works best. Here are a few to get you started!
The Shakespeare Apocrypha (http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/apocrypha/) is the Warwick Blog of Peter Kirwan, a doctoral student in the English Department. It combines reviews, reflections on progress and discussion of forthcoming conference papers.
Michael Nielsen (http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/) uses WordPress. One of the pioneers of quantum computation, Michael adopts a casual witty style in his posts.
David MacKay blogs at Sustainable Energy ( http://withouthotair.blogspot.com/), a Blogger site that makes great use of diagrams
Research | What to blog?
Make some rules about how much you want to reveal about your research.
Think about the best means of expression (bullet points, lists, images, video).
Decide how blogging will help you as a researcher. Will it motivate you? Can you use it to network?
Remember: blog frequently! You don’t need to write an essay every time – regular short posts show that you are full of ideas!
Audience | Who will read my blog?
Your intended audience will determine your content.
Writing for the general public: you might want to engage a community upon whom your research will have an impact. Find out if anybody in that community blogs, and leave them a comment!
Writing for other researchers: reviewing other researcher’s publications is a good way to get started. Your ability to explain and critique will demonstrate your expertise.
Other Resources you might find useful:
Guide to setting up a WordPress blog – http://learn.wordpress.com/ (simple 10-step process)
Video on creating a Blogger account – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bU4gXHkejMo/
Warwick Blogs – http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/
The Shakespeare Apocrypha – http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/apocrypha/ (Warwick blog)
Michael Nielsen’s blog – http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/ (WordPress blog)
Sustainable Energy – http://withouthotair.blogspot.com/ (Blogger)
– Nicolas Pillai