Friday, 15 February 2013

Blogging for research

In yesterday's researchers' session, I led a discussion about blogging for research. I gave a bit of background about my interest in blogging, which I first talked about in one of these sessions almost two years ago (see my original post here). I also talked briefly about a session discussing blogging at the University of Pittsburgh last November - my blogpost describing that session is available here.

Yesterday's discussion covered a range of useful topics including:
  • How blog use by researchers may differ depending on their disciplinary perspectives - for example, issues surrounding commercially sensitive information which are a particular consideration in chemoinformatics projects, or the more detailed, reflective approach to methodology development which is such a significant part of the social science research process.
  • How other social media tools - such as Twitter and Facebook - can be used to engage with potential research participants - and may themselves form the basis for research studies.
  • The range of audiences which a blogger may be writing for (people I know, people I'd like my research to help) and the actual audience which a blog might reach (potentially a global audience and including people who are willing to engage in the discussion and to comment, question and criticise).
  • The tension between all the things which a researcher could potentially post about, and those things which the individual researcher feels comfortable discussing in such a public forum. This may be further complicated by ethical considerations, or issues relating to prior publication.
  • Using blogs such as this one (and these discussion sessions) to engage in a more collaborative and open way to address common problems encountered by researchers, by exploring practical questions such as "what survey tool should I use?"
  • Using the blog (and the discussion sessions) to provide an opportunity for people further along in the PhD process to reflect back on their experiences. In particular, the viva experience was identified as something which could potentially be demystified by future discussions / posts.
In the course of the discussion about this final point, I mentioned a really helpful discussion led by Liz Brewster back in February 2011 - "Things I wish I'd known before I started my PhD" - this is the link to the post.

I was also asked about the most popular post on my own blog. At the time, I couldn't recall which this was but, having checked the statistics, this post about PG Cafe Forum from May 2011 is at the top of the list. At the time PG Cafe Forum didn't have it's own website, and it seems that my blog entry was one of a relatively small number of Google-able sources with these words in the title - it seems that by giving the post that title, I was engaging in some unintentional search engine optimisation!


  1. Hi Angharad, lovely to read your post, glad to see my sage advice is still helping out PhD students two years on!

    Liz B, now Dr. Liz & working as a research & teaching fellow in Leicester...

    1. Hi Dr. Liz, thanks very much for this - your advice has certainly been very useful to me and I think many newer PhD students will also find it helpful.

      Great to hear about your job in Leicester - sounds excellent!