How to write an academic blog post - Author Services

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How to write an academic blog post

Learn how to write a good blog post, including 10 top tips

Blogs can be a great way for academic authors to reach audiences they might not otherwise have access to. Read on to learn how to write an academic blog post, and discover expert tips.

Why write academic blog posts?

“Blogging has become a really huge [and] popular way of disseminating research […], talking to each other as a community, and sharing knowledge.”

Inger Mewburn, Managing editor of the Thesis Whisperer blog
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There are many benefits of writing academic blog posts, they:

  • Provide an opportunity to test an idea, concept or style of presentation. This can help you improve your communication skills, and the way you present information.

  • Help your research reach a wider audience, including the general public. Blog posts make your research sharable on social media (such as Twitter and Facebook), helping to drive people to your research, increase readership, and eventually citations.

  • Allow you to use your writing skills to extract the essential information from your paper or thought process, to create a concise, readable blog post. This is a very valuable skill for researchers to have.

Of course, there are also some reasons people decide against writing academic blog posts. Blogging can be time-consuming, especially if you’re the one setting up and running the blog. If you’re worried about your lack time resource, you could consider pitching your idea to a well-established blog. This way you would write an individual post, rather than regularly writing blog posts to build up your blog library.

Examples of academic blogs

Before you start writing your own blog post, it’s worth looking at some examples for inspiration.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – an academic research blog where authors publishing in the journal are also invited to write a blog post to go with their article. You can read insights from the editor who set up this initiative.

Patter – another blog offering a wealth of support on academic research and writing, edited by Professor Pat Thomson.

The Thesis Whisperer – an academic support blog edited by Inger Mewburn which covers all sorts of topics on research support. Including general writing advice, and presenting and publishing tips.

Regional Studies Association blog – a space for society members to share ideas and insights from their research.

How to structure your academic blog posts

There is not a set academic blog structure. The more informal nature of blogs allows you to choose a more creative approach than you typically can, when writing an academic article. But you still must make sure your ideas flow and the blog structure makes sense.

Here are some things to remember when thinking about the structure of an academic blog:

  • Organize your key points so that the most important ideas are earlier on. Unfortunately you can’t rely on people to reach the end of your article, so you want to catch their attention as early as possible.

  • Because blogs are online content, you can easily use links, images, videos and other multimedia to help the reader understand what you’re saying. Think about the best way to showcase your blog post.

  • Keep your paragraphs short, use lists and headings to structure your writing and break up your text into sections. This will help keep your readers engaged.

How do you write an academic blog post? Here are some top tips

Follow the tips below, to help you write a good academic blog post.

Pick your topic, set your aims

Before you start writing your blog post be clear and specific on the topic and why you’re writing it. You might want to cover what you learned from a recent conference you attended or write a lay-summary of a journal article you’ve published.

Choose the right platform

Once you know your topic and what you want to get out of writing the blog post, choose the platform which will meet your aims. Do you want to allow for discussion and engagement? Write for a blog which allows for comments – though make sure you’re prepared to respond to these. Do you want to reach a particular audience? Then write for a blog with this readership.

Use an effective title

For a blog post you want to use a catchy title, encouraging people to click through. But at the same time, make sure it isn’t misleading and accurately reflects the content of the post. Snappy titles e.g. ’10 tips on ….’, ‘5 things I learned about…’ can often appeal to the time-short reader.

Know your audience

Who do you want to reach? Is it researchers in your field? Those from outside your area of specialty? The general public? Policy makers or the media? Keeping your audience at the forefront of your mind is essential in every decision – from choosing the title to selecting images that will resonate.

Translate your language

An academic blog post is different to an academic journal article. Often, they are intended for a wider audience, including those outside of academia so you need to tailor language to your audience. As journal and blog editor Per Carlbring notes, “do not use unnecessary technical expressions – it’s a difficult art to explain complicated principles in an easy way.”

Be concise

Again, blogs are typically a lot more concise and brief than journal articles. So, translate your arguments into the essential points.

Make it visual

Use appropriate videos or pictures to help break the text up and make your blog post more engaging to the audience. Make sure you have appropriate permissions to use any images, giving credit to the artist where necessary.

Think about the whole picture

Your blog post is a publication, so make sure it fits in with the rest of your research ensuring you cite it appropriately and bear in mind any intellectual property issues. If your research has not yet been published, bear in mind any risks with giving information away.

Include your social media handles

Remember to include links to your social media accounts, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other academic networking channel. By adding these to your blog posts it will help you build up your online research profile.

Be aware of your digital footprint

It is not uncommon for employers to look up potential candidates online. So, ensure your tone is professional and don’t include anything you wouldn’t want to be quoted on.

Hear more about academic blogging and other essentials for researchers from Inger Mewburn, Managing editor of the Thesis Whisperer blog, in our podcast discussing 4 skills for researchers of the future.

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