So, what’s the point in blogging? Benefits for graduate students
You might tell yourself that blogging is a complete waste of time, precious time that could be spent doing something more productive. You probably think blogging is time consuming, you have no idea what to write and believe that nobody would bother to read it anyway! As a grad student, life is busy: you are running various research projects, preparing for presentations, course work, meetings, attempting to get your work published, get grants, and so on… it’s a busy life and it all takes time. Fitting in all of the required activities can be a task in itself, let alone finding the time to do something you may view as ‘extra’, such as writing a blog post. I am going to discuss some of the reasons why I believe blogging can be beneficial.
Firstly, if you are having one of those days, where nothing is going right, it can be useful to write a blog post about your work, or a particular research project that you have lost motivation with. Committing yourself to write down your ideas can kick-start your motivation again and give you a much needed boost. Also, as cheesy as it may sound, blogging about your work can make you feel good! The more you share your work, the more confident you will become. With every comment, tweet, or share on Facebook that you receive, you’ll feel good about yourself, and the whole experience can be a real confidence booster, which can give you much needed encouragement.
Secondly, allow yourself to procrastinate (see also this post). As previously mentioned, you are probably thinking that you don’t have time to blog. Ask yourself, how many minutes/hours/days are wasted doing pointless tasks, or allowing yourself to get distracted by things such as Twitter? I have to admit, I can be a terrible procrastinator at times… Sometimes I have one of those days where things just don’t click. However, instead of using this time to aimlessly search the ‘net’, you can use this time to do something relatively beneficial and enjoyable by writing a blog post. So, allow yourself to procrastinate, but this time be reassured that is it beneficial!
Blogging can also be a great way of reflecting. As an academic, most of our time is spent filling our brains with information, continuously reading paper after paper, or listening to speaker after speaker at conferences. It is not often that we take the time to actually process what we have read, or heard, and make meaningful connections between them. Reflection is key, particularly within our own field of sexual offending research and treatment (see also Caoilte Ó Ciardha’s post here on how researching sexual aggression can have the same negative psychological consequences as those working in clinical practice). Taking the time to openly reflect, and write down your thoughts, can help you think more clearly about what you are doing and why you are doing it. And this is directly beneficial to your work as a graduate student.
Another benefit of writing a blog is the interaction that it enables through the comments section. This can be a great source of encouragement and advice, and can give you the opportunity to learn from others and to refine your own ideas. It opens up a dialogue and allows you the chance to answer questions about your research. The comments section allows you time to process what someone has said, giving you the opportunity to research deeper and respond. Relatedly, it is a good practice for responding to questions on the spot at a conference! This open dialogue will also allow you to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
The instant feedback on your work that blogging allows is a huge benefit when you compare it to the lengthy process of getting something published. Feedback from others can be invaluable, it can help you see your research from a different perspective.
In addition, writing a blog post increases your visibility and keeps your profile out there in-between (or even before) publications. If you are new to academia, writing a blog is a quick and easy way to get your work out there, without having to wait for a publication, or for the end of your degree. Particularly when you are embarking on a MA or Ph.D., it can be years before you see any real output or results, so you can use a blog to get your work, and knowledge, out there quickly. This is yet another benefit of blogging.
Blogging also allows you to be creative. You can share your work in a different format from the usual structure of writing your thesis, or a research paper. Breaking free from the boundaries that come with publishing can be a welcome break, you can experiment with different media platforms, such as incorporating the use of and Infographic or a Prezis, whilst finding your own voice and establishing your own style of writing. Blogging is also a way to publish information about all aspects of research too, which formal publishing methods won’t accept. You can forget those boundaries, try writing in a different style, or even dare to be controversial! With blogging there is freedom, and you can show off your work in a way that is yours.
Another benefit from blogging is that it opens the door to making global connections with others, and to form genuine relationships with people in your field. You can join a community, start to build a network, and find potential collaborators for future projects. The benefits of making these connections are priceless, and super exciting, too! You can connect with other students too, or collaborate with other students on a blog post, even if you aren’t able to get together in person. Furthermore, when you embark on a Ph.D it is easy to become entirely focused on one small area of research, and being a part of a community blog can allow you to keep up with a wider field of research.
And finally… are you still wondering whether anyone will bother to read your blog post? I can proudly announce that the nextgenforensic blog recently hit 10,000+ total views! People are reading the blogs! Thank you to all our readers and contributors. And to do those who are on the fence, I hope that this blog has highlighted the reason why blogging is beneficial to you and your career.
Kettleborough, D. (2014, October 6). So, what’s the point in blogging? Benefits for graduate students. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://wp.me/p2RS15-7f
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