Academic Blogging: Joining the Dots

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Image credit: Kristina B

Today I read an academic blog post which explored blogging as not simply an ‘add on’ to academic writing but as academic writing in and of itself. Its main argument was that while blogging can be used in many ways and for many purposes, in an academic context blogging should not be considered any less of an important output than more formally recognised dissemination, such as a thesis or journal article. I found the post really refreshing in its exploration of both the benefits of blogging for academic writing and the potential research impact achieved through blogging as a form of dissemination. It reaffirmed my own sense that blogging makes academia and academic research accessible to those outside of a specific academic discipline in a way in which journal articles and books often don’t. It takes away the long-winded and formal argument building that we often find in academic work, and can shift the language from that which can be difficult to engage with (both from a non-academic and an academic perspective) to that which is short, snappy and to the point. It opens the doors to quick historical, social or cultural investigation and critique, exposing academia to everyday popular interest in a culture whereby accessing information about any subject (big or small) instantly is an inherent expectation.

The blog post (link at the bottom) has spurred me on in creating my very own academic blogging space and has been very timely for me. I’ve been considering blogging for a couple of months now and just haven’t got round to a) setting up my own blog page, and b) committing to writing regularly outside of that which is meant for, or directly contributes to, my PhD thesis. Writing on a regular basis has become more and more challenging for me in terms of finding the time just to sit down and do it. As with many undergrad and postgrad students, PhD students, researchers and academics more widely, finding time to write for pleasure is often a luxury. Currently I divide my time between: PhD research; my job (Research Officer); studying for two postgraduate certificates – one in research and one in learning & teaching; contributing as Editor for the My American Studies network (created by the wonderful Jade Tullet); taking on the occasional lecturing session; writing seminar papers; managing to have some kind of life outside of work and research related activity; and trying to find time off from all of the above to do little more than lie on the sofa with a supply of donuts large enough that I won’t need to move until I have worked my way through all seven series of Gilmore Girls. As you can imagine – and probably very much relate to – there are never enough hours in the day to be able to do all of the above, let alone start blogging about it.

So why then am I starting a blog? Despite it appearing to make very little sense time-wise, for me the process of blogging (or engaging with any regular reflective writing task) helps me clarify and enhance my thinking, and allows me to engage with and commentate on themes or areas not directly related to my PhD research (but which are no less important or interesting to me). I also hope that the process of blogging regularly allows me to join the dots between the numerous hats I wear on any given day. Going back to the blog post, my hope is that this blog will not only to allow me to engage with my own work more effectively, but will also allow others to engage with my ideas and thinking through a more accessible and readily available context than the often challenging nature of more formal academic writing.

Coming to the end of this post it has dawned on me that having now made the case for regular blogging there is nothing left to do but blog!

Blog post by Pat Thomson: http://patthomson.net/2015/12/07/blogging-helps-academic-writing/ (07/12/2015)

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