Academic Blogging

For a growing number of researchers, blogging is an important part of their academic life. Why might you want to join the crowd?

Jump to: LSE Blogs; Further reading

Blogs are good for telling people about work you’re doing; showcasing your findings; roughing out ideas that will turn into articles or even books; contributing to the policy or public conversation; and keeping yourself in the public eye.

Is blogging actual research? No, but it can help improve your work.

Should you be blogging? Yes, if you want to maximise the impact of your work in academia and beyond.

Can I use Twitter instead of blogging? You should probably do both

Here we look at the kinds of posts you might write; who you could write for (you don’t have to maintain your own platform); and how to get your work noticed.

There are three basic kinds of academic blog post:

  1. Blogging for content tells people about research you’re doing, or what you found.
  2. Blogging for comment contributes to public conversation and debate, using your research and/or experience as material.
  3. Blogging for reportage would include write‑ups of events you went to, or things you’ve read.

Blogging for content is where many academics feel most comfortable. The main benefit is in providing non-technical summaries of your research that are likely to be much more widely read than any journal article. Most people in the media, government, policy or industry will only read this version of your work. A few might go back to your working paper, if you have one, or to your journal article and you should ensure these are correctly cited. Blogs give you an important channel to explain what you did, what you found and why people should care about it, without or with minimal jargon. Often, forcing yourself to express things in clear and non‑technical language helps deepen your own understanding of a problem (just as many people find with teaching).

Blogging for comment is more challenging, but can be very rewarding. For most academics, this is not about instant reaction to the news cycle –platforms like Twitter (or working with the LSE media team) will be better for that. Rather, it’s about providing a considered, evidence‑based response to some important story, and using your own work – where you can – to make your argument run. If you’re lucky, these pieces mayget recycled for op‑eds – or they may become the kernel of some new piece of research

Blogging for reportage is more about using a blog as a public notebook, taking down your thoughts from things you’ve read and seen – and think others will be interested in. You might think this is trivial, although your non‑academic readers– for whom you’re the expert on X – will often find it more useful than you’d imagine. Again, you may also find yourself developing new ideas and proposals out of these notes.

In practice, academics often mix and match. Economist Diane Coyle, for example, does a lot of book reviews. She also writes more substantive content and comment pieces on her own research, or reacting to government policy (see this piece on the Bean Review). Joe Moran, a cultural historian, writes long‑form, discursive content pieces that develop ideas. Technologist Danah Boyd takes a similar approach, with dense mini‑essays on tech, culture and society. 

From the early days of weblogging at the turn of the millennium, there are now hundreds of millions of blogs, and blog platforms are fully integrated into newspapers, corporate and public sector web presence (including many universities).

So how do you get people to read blogs? The short answers are: put it in lots of places; use other people’s platforms and use social media to tell people about it. This is where we can help.

LSE Blogs

LSE’s public-facing blogs have grown into one of the world’s primary digital knowledge exchange platforms for academics, students, and researchers. Contributions from think tank researchers, politicians, and third-sector experts across the world mean that the blogs have grown into a hub for evidence-based commentary and accessible summaries of academic research. More than 100,000 unique users read blog posts and commentary from across the LSE Blogs every week.

Find out more about the impact of LSE blogs.

For examples, please go to any of the blog sites below and contact the editors directly to discuss writing a post based on your research or expertise.

  1. Impact of Social Sciences 
  2. British Politics and Policy
  3. European Politics and Policy
  4. United States Politics and Policy
  5. South Asia @ LSE
  6. Africa at LSE
  7. LSE Latin America and Caribbean
  8. LSE Business Review
  9. LSE Review of Books

You should allow – and encourage – cross‑posting across blogs. This is a great way to boost views, and will encourage new readers to come back to other material you’ve written. Unlike journals, most blogs take a pretty liberal approach to cross‑posting (often asking for little more than a link back to the original post).

You should also cross‑post your work on other online networks which offer blogging functionality. If you use them for work, Facebook and LinkedIn both allow you to post blog‑length pieces and crucially, encourage readers to share them.

Use social media to alert people to your work.Back in early blogging days, it was possible to simply check in on blogs you were interested in.Today, with overwhelming amounts of content, you need to give people a hand. Twitter is incredibly helpful for this.

How often should you post? This is really up to you, and depends on the kind of blogging you do and feel comfortable with. What is crucial is that you keep your blogging going. Contributing to a group blog makes a massive difference in terms of sharing the load, especially if there’s also an editor who manages the day to day. If it is just you, though, consider posting at least once a month.

Further Reading

How to write a blogpost from your journal article in eleven easy stepsPatrick Dunleavy, LSE Impact Blog

Why academics (and students) should take blogging / social media seriously  Duncan Green, LSE Impact Blog

So you’ve decided to blog? These are the things you should write about Amy Mollett, Cheryl Brumley, Chris Gilson and Sierra Williams, LSE Impact Blog