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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Seven reasons why blogging can make you a better academic writer

Photo: Pat Thomson
Pat Thomson, professor of education in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham, on the scholarly virtues of putting your thoughts online.


Photo: Times Higher Education (THE) (blog)
Why do academics blog? What do academic bloggers get from blogging?

Discussions about scholarly blogging most often centre on the need for we academics to write in ways that attract new audiences. If we write blogs, we are told, we can communicate our research more effectively. 

Blogs enhance impact, they are a medium for public engagement. The advocacy goes on… Blogs (and other social media) can point readers to our (real) academic publications, particularly if they are held on open repositories. Blogging it seems is a kind of essential add-on to the usual academic writing and academic publication that we do.

Of course, some people do argue – and I’m in this camp – that blogging is in and of itself academic writing and academic publication. It’s not an add-on. It’s now part and parcel of the academic writing landscape. As such, it is of no less value than any other form of writing. Even though audit regimes do not count blogs – yet – this does not lessen their value. And therefore those of us who engage in bloggery need to stop justifying it as a necessary accompaniment to the Real Work of Serious Academic Writing. Blogs are their own worthwhile thing.

[Also by this author: The perils of self-citation]

Sometimes I get so enmeshed in this argument, so keen to make the case that my blog is just as much part of my academic writing and publishing as any of my papers or books, that I forget the ways in which blogging can actually inform and support other forms of academic writing. It can. I found myself just the other day suggesting to a doctoral researcher that they might like to blog or write posts for other people’s blogs because there were real pay-offs in doing so – pay-offs for academic writing in general, and in particular their thesis. My reasons? Well….

Blogging can help you to establish writing as a routine
The established wisdom of academic – and creative – writing is that it is helpful for writing to become a habit. Most advice books advocate writing every day. Blogging regularly can be part of just such a writing routine, even underpin it. Blog posts can be finished in a sitting because they are small, self-contained pieces able to be drafted in a relatively short space of time. In a couple of days a post can be written and published and this write-publish-feedback cycle can be good motivation in building and sustaining a pattern of regular writing.

This post originally appeared on Pat Thomson's blog.
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Source: Times Higher Education (THE) (blog)


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