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Academic blogging – 10 top tips

Academic blogging is a valuable part of the wider ecology of scholarship, with the potential for engagement, outreach, and reinforcing academic impact. Although our background is in science, we hope this list of tips will be useful to all blogging academics.

A-man-relaxes-in-a-hammoc-008

1) Write about yourself and your life. People are just as interested in researchers (and their activities) as their research; also, write about what goes wrong and right – the human story of failed experiments is interesting but rarely gets told.

2) Find your blogging voice. Don’t worry if it takes a year or more. Your blog will evolve as you discover your style, which might be short topical pieces or long-form reflective essays (or a combination of the two). Read other academic blogs, and you’ll quickly see the range of voices people use.

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3) Be clear about what your blog is for. Are you writing to share your musings on life, the universe, everything, or a specific theme or topic? Again let the scope evolve; it can be difficult to start blogging with a mission statement, but it is useful to start by thinking about what you would like to achieve with your blog.

4) Blog as yourself. While there are circumstances in which blogging anonymously is necessary, it is generally better to be clear and open about yourself and your academic position. It’s also important to make clear whether you are writing on behalf of your university.

5) Think about how controversial you want to be. Calibrate the degree of controversy according to risk (especially for an early career researcher compared to a tenured professor); in general, only be prepared to put something on a blog that you’d be prepared to say to someone’s face (or shout out in a crowded room). Courting controversy can be fine if you are a senior academic, but be mindful that your position lends a level of authority to what you write – so make sure you’re happy for your words to be quoted.

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