The benefits of blogging for academics

blog post-it note imageWhy do academics blog? That’s the question explored in Sara Kjellberg’s article “I am a blogging researcher: Motivations for blogging in a scholarly context,” found in the latest issue of First Monday.

Based on interviews with almost a dozen scholarly bloggers, the study discusses how blogs function for researchers and academics and what motivates them to blog. Among other things, the writer concludes that blogs serve as spaces for disseminating ideas, for interaction with peers and with a wider public, for staying current, and for improving their writing.

Perhaps the most interesting parts of the article are the excerpts from the interviews themselves, as the researchers articulate how blogging is valuable to them. Some of these excerpts are included below.

On keeping up-to-date:

“…it’s a good way for me to force myself to keep up with my own research field. I have this external how do you say … incentive to publish a few times a week, which means you have to stay abreast of things.”

“It’s like this big closet full of small ideas that are nice to talk about. When I have to do some teaching and I think ‘hmm what about that and that and that’ then I just look at the blog and think ‘oh yeah’ suddenly there is this huge story because of all these ideas that you have condensed into 800 words.”

As a writing tool:

“A lot of people think that it [the blogging] steals time from research, which I believe is a myth. I think just the opposite; it makes it easier to overcome writing thresholds and easier to articulate your ideas. It’s a writing support tool.”

On creating an audience through blogging:

“One thing I ran into was that the target audience of my research doesn’t read scientific papers /…/ so what I wanted to try is to create an audience through blogging about … fun subjects or things I know or interesting resources or my own observations, and then mix that with my own scientific papers.”

On interaction and feedback:

“That, too, is something I think is fun about the blog in comparison to research articles, that you get more feedback and perhaps feedback that’s more friendly. In peer reviews, it’s kind of implicit that it’s meant to pick holes in your arguments.”

Read the whole study here.

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