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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. Unlike with journals, you can turn an idea into published content quickly.
Is blogging actual research? No, but it can help improve your work and build your profile.
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. Social media and blogging can build your profile within an academic community, but blogging is how people really get to know your work.
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:
- Blogging for content tells people about research you’re doing, or what you found.
- Blogging for comment contributes to public conversation and debate, using your research and/or experience as material.
- 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. This provides non-technical summaries of your research which 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. Readers interested in this blog might go back to your working paper, if you have one, or to your journal article, which you can cite and hyperlink to. 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. These blogs can get picked up by journalists or recycled for op‑eds, and sometimes they become the kernel of some new piece of research.
Blogging for reportage is more about using a blog as a public notebook, recording 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.
Since the early days of blogging at the turn of the millennium, there are now hundreds of millions of blogs, and the practice has become well-respected in academic circles. Blog platforms are fully integrated into newspapers, corporate and public sector communications and academic practice.
So how do you get people to read blogs? The short answers are: publish in blogs known to your community; use other people’s platforms and use social media to tell people about it. This is where we can help.
LSE Blogs has grown into one of the world’s primary digital knowledge exchange platforms for academics, students, policymakers and journalists. Contributions from think-tank researchers, politicians and third-sector experts across the world provide evidence-based commentary and accessible summaries of academic research. At LSE we also use blogs for student engagement and teaching, where our teams are recognised for the early adoption of digital platforms.
Every month we publish hundreds of articles across a range of disciplines and geographies. More than 100,000 unique users read 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.
- Impact of Social Sciences
- British Politics and Policy
- European Politics and Policy
- United States Politics and Policy
- South Asia @ LSE
- Africa at LSE
- LSE Latin America and Caribbean
- LSE Business Review
- LSE Review of Books
You should allow – and encourage – cross‑posting across blogs. This is a great way to boost views and encourage new readers to come back to other material you’ve written. Unlike journals, most blogs take a liberal approach to cross‑posting (often asking for little more than a link back to the original post).
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.
Ask your academic department to promote your blogs. They will have their own communication channels with an existing community of people interested in your area. Also make sure your posts are included on your profile page, which can be especially effective to let people know what you do if readers (such as policymakers and media professionals) don’t have access to paywalled journals.
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 content day to day. If it is just you, though, consider posting at least once a month. Over time, the process will become easier.
How to write a blogpost from your journal article in eleven easy steps. Patrick 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