Blogging is an effective way to increase the reach of your research. As a scientist, you may already read research blogs to keep up with important recent articles in your field and learn about upcoming conferences and funding opportunities. Starting a blog can help you connect to the wider research community, potential new collaborators, and the public, and may increase an article’s number of views and citations.
Whether your research concerns the efficacy of a new vaccine, soil remediation, or advancements in cognitive neural networks, your work has an audience. However, your articles may be hidden behind paywalls or difficult for the general public to access due to terminology and language barriers. Writing about your research in a clear and approachable way can quickly increase public awareness of your work.
Another excellent reason to blog is to sharpen your writing skills. As a scientist, you will need to explain your research to people outside your immediate field in contexts such as teaching an introductory course or applying for funding. Blogging will prepare you to successfully communicate about your research in these settings. In a job application or a grant proposal, a link to a research blog can highlight your commitment to public outreach and serve as an additional writing sample.
It’s easier to start blogging than you might think. Before you start, you should first set a focus for your blog, consider your audience, and commit to a schedule.
Setting the focus
First, it’s important to determine a goal for your blog. An effective strategy is to focus on new articles by your team or others in your field. Of course, a blog can feature many different kinds of posts. You might want to provide an inside look into a day in your life as a scientist, whether you work in a robotics lab or on an oceanographic vessel. Sometimes, research blogs even include recipes for graduate students and poems about field expeditions. However, if you’re just starting, it’s best to keep your approach simple.
Identifying your audience
You should also write towards a specific audience. If your blog is aimed only at colleagues in your immediate subfield, you can assume that they will understand the tenets and terminology of your field. However, if you’d like your blog to be a resource for the general public, other scientists, or students in the early stages of their academic careers, it will be crucial to explain complex concepts in an accessible way. Different approaches are valuable, but you should be strategic about what you’d like to accomplish.
Establishing your schedule
Finally, you should commit to a schedule to ensure you can stay consistent. From Ph. D. students to department chairs, scientists juggle many responsibilities. Review your existing commitments and how much time you can reasonably devote to a blog. If you urgently need an English writing sample for a grant or job application, perhaps you can commit to a weekly publishing schedule. However, for most people, it will be more realistic to commit to a monthly schedule. If you’re very busy, perhaps you can commit to updating your blog whenever you publish a new article.
When you’re ready to start your blog, set aside some time to write. You can aim to write a first draft within an hour. Your first post should be short and powerful; a blog post in the range of 500-1000 words is informative and sufficiently concise to hold a reader’s interest. Choose a topic you feel confident writing about that fits the focus of your blog. Your most recent research paper or an outstanding new finding in your field is a great place to start. Don’t be afraid to be personal: describing why the results of a paper were exciting and the challenges you encountered in the research process can only make your blog post more compelling.
If you don’t feel confident in your writing skills or are writing a blog post in your second language, it can be tempting to be overly critical of your first blog post. Of course, you should aim for your blog post to be well written. However, beginners should remember that “done is better than perfect.” Take the first step now. As you stay consistent, your writing skills will naturally improve.
Promoting your blog
After you’ve written your first blog post, you’ll need to choose where to publish your blog. If you already have a website, an easy solution is to publish your blog as a new page on your site. In the United States, WordPress, Blogger, and Squarespace are popular platforms that offer free templates, and Substack is another growing platform to email blog posts directly to subscribers. Research which blogging platforms are the most widely read in your country.
It’s essential to promote your writing after you hit publish. Although novice bloggers may be shy about self-promotion, readers need to be able to find your blog for your work to find an audience. Include a link to your blog on your website or in a departmental newsletter, and make sure to post about your blog on social media networks such as Peeref