To once and for all smash the notion that ‘size matters’, I invite you to spend just a few minutes reading my blog about blogging.
For those working in the research community, the drive is towards the paper, the publication, the conference abstract, CITATION, CITATION, CITATION.
Why would you write a blog? How can you possibly explain all of your work in so few words?
Then you have to then deal with pesky comments from non-scientists who don’t understand how many hours of your life was dedicated to your research … AND you’re not paid to write the blog as part of the project anyway.
So firstly – why would you do it? When it comes to information overload, we’re like frogs in boiling water – when everyone is so busy and the world is already full of SO much information, why on earth would you bother adding to the noise?
But… isn’t it refreshing to read something and feel like it was written just for you? I want you to feel that way about this blog, because it is written to help each of you understand that the blog format is something that can either help promote your research, or for those in policy, to reach out to researchers with your complex policy decisions and explain how research can inform these.
Another biggie in the why should I write a blog-basket is around availability. For researchers, your main research goes into a journal article that requires a subscription or some sort of cost-to-access. By summarising your research in a blog, it can act as the teaser that encourages people to spend the money to access the full research paper. It is certainly a way to reach a broader audience and create external impact.
I want to highlight that writing a blog isn’t about learning a new skillset, it is simply expressing your existing writing expertise in a less formal way. The challenge is more around being specific about what your audience needs to know.
Now, I am new to the ARCC network, so my knowledge on my audience has a LONG way to go, however, I know that the value of the network is the participation of researchers AND practitioners. For those in the policy or practice world, trust me that the following advice applies to you too!
Here’s where I demonstrate that size doesn’t matter, that you can get key messages across in a short word count and it does not impact on the usefulness of the information. It certainly doesn’t diminish the necessity of other forms of writing, rather coexisting nicely in the modern day (virtual) bag of communication resources.
This is my short-form guidance to writing a blog, which is summarised from a summary on How to write a blogpost from your journal article in eleven easy steps:
- Know your audience, or at least be open to the fact that they may know considerably less than you about the topic
- Conversational style and Plain English are important (I attach a great guide from my hometown)
- Front-load your blog by putting the main findings upfront, and be specific on what this means for your audience – don’t assume they will join the dots
- Use charts and diagrams as needed but not too often
- Know your audience, keep your eye on the prize – what is the connection between you and them?
- Provide a call to action – give people something to do next, include your contact details.
The ARCC website has fantastic guidance on a range of communication resources, so check that out… then get blogging!
PS. As a network member, you can utilise this very blogging platform – contact us to contribute.