Academic Blogging

“Blogging is quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now” (Dunleavy, 2014).

I blogHow can researchers provide information about their studies in ways that would be useful and interesting to prospective and current participants? With that question in my mind, I began to explore the potential for blogs as a bridge between researchers and participants. As with almost any online exploration, I discovered a much broader potential for blogs in the academic world.

Today’s researchers, scholars, and instructors are finding
many valuable ways to use blogs. I’ve come to realize that blogs play an important part in the publishing cycle and online ecosystem. It is not a matter of Blogs either/or: we need to find ways these different communication options fit with our career and research goals.

Blogs and Social Media

Before going any further with this discussion, it’s important to define blogs and to distinguish between blogs and social media.

Blogs, short for weblogs are personal online journals where entries are posted chronologically. Microblogs use the same principle but allow for very short entries. Blogs can be text only or embed or link to images or media. Some are public and others are only seen by subscribers or friend lists. (Salmons, 2016)

Bloggers can choose from a number of free or paid platforms where they can devise their own templates, adapt or use available templates. Popular platforms include WordPress, Blogger and Squarespace. Blogs are very flexible and users can create a wide variety of formats and styles of presentation. Some are very basic with simple narrative posts and others are complex with design features that include both static pages and time-sensitive posts. Bloggers use comment features to invite feedback or to interact with readers. Bloggers may choose to generate revenue with advertising and other promotions.

Bloggers are not limited by proscribed lengths, styles, features or page designs. This flexibility stands in contrast to posts made to social networking sites. Social networking sites are typically run as commercial platforms by large companies. These companies have determined ways to make a profit from user-generated material and are thus invested in allowing certain kinds of posts. Brands are built on the sites’ graphic design and features. Users of sites like Facebook can be surprised to login and find that their pages’ format has changed. They have become accustomed to seeing advertising on their walls, as well as links to other content the company has decided is of interest to users who fit a certain profile. Users of the microblog tool Twitter have become accustomed to the 140 character limitation.

Social networking sites and blogs are typically interconnected. Bloggers use social media in order to build an audience. They create posts that fit within the constraints of the social networking sites, but link back to the blog where they have the freedom to present information in the way they prefer. Bloggers can use social networking to interact with others and use their blogs to present more substantial writings and other expressions. The important point here is that by knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each type of site, we can make better choices about which best meets specific academic purposes.

Blogs

Social Networking Sites

Flexible formats and options for presenting narrative material of any length, attachments for download, graphics, photographs and/or media. Format options determined by commercial owner of site.
Communication features determined by blogger, using free, open access plug-ins and software or professionally designed templates. Features and design options determined by commercial owner of site.
Advertising determined by the blogger, who collects the revenue. Advertising determined by the commercial site, and the site collects the revenue.
The blogger chooses what content to promote and what links to share. Commercial owner of site uses data analytics to select content and links aligned with visitors’ interests.

Table 1: Blogs and social networking sites

 

Academics and Blogs

I suggest that academics can use blogs in three main ways:

  • Researcher-to-Researcher: Sharing and exchange.
  • Researcher-to-Participants: Building credibility and “informing” participants
  • Researcher-to-Public: Sharing findings, results and practical resources.

Researcher-to-Researcher: Academic bloggers communicate with each other for exchange and networking within or across disciplines. They present information in ways that build upon a shared foundation in the topics under discussion, and a shared understanding of the protocols and expectations for activities such as conducting research or teaching at the college level. They share resources, links to recent publications, calls for papers, or notices about upcoming conferences, or other opportunities of interest to other academics.

Researcher-to-Participants: Academic bloggers communicate with prospective or current participants. They present information in ways the study population will understand. Blogs intended for this purpose can introduce the study, develop the credibility of the researcher, be used to support recruitment efforts, and help to inform participants before and during the study.

Researcher-to-Public: Academic bloggers also communicate with the general public. They present information in ways that anyone would understand and find of interest. The researcher may translate academese or disciplinary jargon into more familiar terms. The researcher may offer recommendations for applying findings in practical ways. This type of blog is designed to share findings and/or to build awareness about the issues and problems under investigation.

Patrick Dunleavy introduced another way to categorize academic blogs, and I think his approach meshes well with mine. He distinguishes between them according to the number and type of all author: solo, collaborative, or multi-author (Dunleavy, 2014). Table 2 is adapted from his model. As an academic with an interest in blogging, you have the choice of either designing and launching your own solo blog, finding a group of like-minded writers who want to begin a collaborative blog, or looking for opportunities to contribute to a multi-author blog in your field. Alternatively, you can look for opportunities to contribute as a guest writer for blogs that focus on your area of interest.

 

 

Solo

Collaborative

Multi-Author

Type of blog and authorship The blog owner is responsible for direction of the content and writes the posts. Occasionally guests contribute. The blog or another serves as the editor, giving the site in personal style. Usually 2 to 10 authors generate and edit the blog’s content. Guest blogs or columns are written by regular contributors. Editorial roles may be rotated or shared. An editorial team commissions or collates contributions from many authors. Posts are professional edited and the site has strong production values and design. The blog may have a formal tie-in to a scholarly journal or trade publication.

 

How do readers find the blog? Individual authors’ identities are key to the brand. Topic or disciplinary identities help to develop a brand. Strong branding, linked to university, media outlet or professional/scientific bodies or journals.

Table 2: Types of blogs identified by Patrick Dunleavy (2014). See the article for additional categories and the full table.

 

How might these categories inter-relate? A juxtaposition of Dunleavy’s and my categories for academic blogs is illustrated in Table 3. The columns are intended here not as a fixed set of boundaries but more as a continuum between on one end, the individual DIY blogger who is responsible for everything from choosing the domain name, platform, hosting service, and figuring out how to make it all work to a professional operation more comparable to a journal or magazine production.

 

Solo

Collaborative

Multi-Author

Researcher-to-Researcher The researcher creates a blog where he or she posts information about research interests, projects, conference presentations and publications. Researchers with a shared interest, area of inquiry, methodology or discipline work together to create a blog about their individual or team research projects and related events and resources. The blog may serve as a channel for connecting with new research partners, conferences or funding opportunities.

 

Professional society, association, or university group sponsors a blog for researchers working in a specific area of inquiry or discipline. Writing in the blog and any related publications is aimed at other scholars and academics in the field.
Researcher-to-Participants Individual researchers or research teams use a blog to explain the purpose of the study and expectations, benefits and/or risks for participants. As appropriate, findings are shared with the participants. Links are shared on social networking sites. Announcements for opportunities to participate in studies are posted on the blog. Links are shared on social networking sites.
Researcher-to-Public The researcher creates a blog where he or she posts information about research findings and their application. The researcher may use the blog to promote his or her workshops or consultations about how to apply research findings. Links are shared on social networking sites. The group of collaborative researchers and writers creates a blog with the intention of disseminating research findings to those who can use them. The researchers may use the blog to promote workshops or consultations about how to apply research findings. Links are shared on social networking sites. Articles about application and practical use of research findings are featured on the organization’s blog. A blog may be one of many channels for reaching the public. Articles may be associated with products and services available for sale such as handbooks, workshops or training. Links are shared on social networking sites.

 

 

In another post, I shared a recorded presentation with specific examples (with links) for each of these types. Please share your favorite academic blogs and let me know how you think they would fit into these categories. Do you think the blogger or bloggers achieve their purpose? Why or why not? Please post to  and , and follow me on @einterview to join the conversation.

Stay tuned – and I will share what I learn.

 

 

 

 

 

Dunleavy, P. (2014). Shorter, better, faster, free: Blogging changes the nature of academic research, not just how it is communicated.

Salmons, J. (2016). Doing qualitative research online. London: SAGE Publications.

 

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Join a Tweetchat about Publication Strategies!

We now have many options for publishing our work, from blogs to peer-reviewed articles, books with a publisher to self-published e-books, as well as case studies, manuals, or book chapters. Which mix of options aligns with your career goals?

Mark your calendar- and post questions- for a #PubPlan tweetchat w/ @DrHelenKara & me. No registration needed, just log into Twitter and look for #PubPlan. To participate, just add the hashtag to each comment or response, so others in the thread see your posts. You can start now: suggest questions or topics you’d like us to cover!

If you want to focus on your own strategy with a small group of writers, Dr. Kara and myself, consider taking our course! The next session of Create Your Publication Strategy starts February 13. See: www.path2publishing.com to register.

See a related article on SAGE Publications Methodspace http://www.methodspace.com/research-publication-impact-might-need-strategy/

#PubPlan is hashtag! Post your questions now, and join the conversation January 17.

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5 Ways to Use Your Dissertation for Publications

TAAJoin me for a webinar with the Textbook and Academic Authors Association!

5 Ways to Use Your Dissertation for Publications

Registration: https://taaa.memberclicks.net/events
Date: Wednesday, May 18, 3-4 p.m. ET. Find your time zone here.
Free to TAA members. Not a member? Membership is affordable, and worthwhile. Join, let’s learn from each other and share ideas about academic writing!

5ways-TAAYou spent a lot of time conducting research and writing a dissertation, thesis, or capstone project. You are well aware of the pressure to get your work published, in order to get hired or advance in your academic or professional field. Where do you start? I mined every element of her dissertation to launch a publishing strategy that has resulted in five books, numerous chapters and cases, articles and blog posts. I’ve created a typology of five options for drawing from, building on, or applying your student writing. This webinar is relevant those who have graduated recently as well as to people whose dissertations have been sitting on the shelf for a while.

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Learn how to create your own virtual book tour!

TAA

Go on the (Virtual) Road to Promote Your Book

TAA Blog post: 6 Key takeaways from the TAA webinar, ‘Go on the (Virtual) Road to Promote Your Book.’ The recording is online in the member resources. If you are an academic writer, consider joining!

 

road-tripWhether ​ you are self-publishing or working with a major publisher, you will need to actively promote your textbooks and encourage faculty to adopt them. Traditionally, writers have taken book tours and given talks, but textbook publishers are unlikely to fund world travel. Why not offer a book tour online? With the Doing Qualitative Research Online Virtual Book Tour I did just that. While some “virtual book tours” simply place guest posts or advertisements on potential readers’ sites, my highly interactive approach includes webinars and online discussions with groups or classes. In this one-hour webinar, I will share tales from the virtual road and steps you can take to launch your own tour.

e/merge Africa
e/merge Africa, based at the University of Cape Town  but serving all African educators, will host a week-long discussion and two webinars. Register here.
Maynooth University, Ireland
The first stop on the Doing Qualitative Research Online Virtual Book Tour is the Advanced Digital Research Methods class lead by ​Aphra Kerr of the Sociology Department in Maynooth University, Ireland. We'll discuss "Eliciting Data with Online Interviews or Focus Groups." This class is part of their MA in Sociology (Internet and Society) course.' 

Further information on the course can be found here. Follow Aphra on Twitter 
on @aphrak.
Enjoy your virtual visit to Maynooth University!



SAGE Publications MethodSpace
Webinar: "Online Research:  Holistic Thinking
and Qualitative Design"
Free webinar Wednesday, June 15 at 9 a.m. EST/4 p.m. GMT
Register: http://bit.ly/25jKKCk
Social Research Association
Generating Qualitative Data Online with Arts-Based & Participatory Methods Free webinar on April 7, 4 pm London Find time zone: http://bit.ly/22gaKJG
Register: http://bit.ly/DoQual
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
I will visit the Dpto. Organización de Empresas (Department of Management) for a 90 minute online seminar.
University of Stirling, Scotland
I am visiting the Theory and Methods of Digital Social Research class at the University of Stirling, in Glasgow,Scotland. It is great to exchange ideas with bright and curious students who are looking at the possibilities for using digital methods in social research.
Vision2Lead
Home base is Boulder, Colorado, at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains!

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Direct Connect: Blogs & Research

Direct Connect: Blogs & Research

I presented “Direct Connect: Blogs & Research,” a webinar as part of the IT4ALL free Spring Blog Fest @ITforALL. You can view the presentation here.

Here is the article I discussed:
Shorter, better, faster, free: Blogging changes the nature of academic research, not just how it is communicated” by Patrick Dunleavy

Here are the blogs I highlighted:

 

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