You’ve probably considered if blogging is your cup of tea. And as a scientist, you have got enough research and education going on to keep you busy. So why also start a blog? Here are the ten most important reasons: Guest contibution By: Hermen Visser
1. It’s fun!
The most important reason to start blogging is because you like to share your passion for your discipline. The life of every scientist is busy and uncertain. And whilst outreach is officially part of your job description, there is scarcely reward or recognition for your effort. This means you’ll have to do it in your own time, and at your own risk. Especially in the beginning, your blog will not reach a large audience. This means that above all, you’ll have to get some joy out of the endeavour to keep up.
2. It is the easiest path to outreach
To be a blogger you only need a computer and internet. You can start easily and free on LinkedIn. A big benefit can be that you already have built a network (and therefore an audience) there. If you really want your own site, then user-friendly Wordpress can help you out. Simple step-by-step instructions guide your way. Plus, Wordpress offers a lot of free themes. And for a few tenners your choice is overwhelming – it’s child’s play.
3. You are in control
As a blogger, you are in control of what you put out there. You don’t have to convince a public relations office to write a press release about your work. You are not dependent on journalists to decide to make way for your piece on television or in the newspaper. And you determine what you write on, how often and how extensively.
4. You become a better writer
Writing is a vocation. And writing for a broad audience is a distinctly different role than writing for peer-reviewed journals. By writing and releasing your work on the outside world, you find out what works and what doesn’t. especially if you ask outsiders to proofread and provide their uncensored feedback on your text, you’ll learn quickly. This will not only help you as a blogger, but it will also improve your scientific articles. Because a catchy title and a nice flow is also becoming on a scholarly publication.
5. Funders like it
Funding bodies that fund scientific research, like to see that the resulting knowledge is shared with a wider audience than just your peers. Maintaining a blog might not be very innovative, but it is a start. Experience tells us that researchers who start blogging quickly climb up the later towards more adventurous outreach: a podcast, a vlog, a comic book – you name it.
6. It helps you hone ideas
Blogging makes you a better researcher. The translation of scientific jargon to a layman's vocabulary helps to better grip your own work. If you want to write attractively for an outsider, you need to distinguish major issues from minor ones and structure you ideas. You’ll also have to get accustomed to your readers’ perspective, and that helps you keep track of the bigger picture. Finally: Your ideas will become better through the feedback that your blogs elicit.
7. You learn to sell your research
Committee members who determine whether you’ll receive your research funding have made their name in research. But regarding topics outside of their own field, they are laymen like your own readers. The examples, explanations, anecdotes and analogies that work for you readers will also have an effect on the committee. Blogging improves your ideas, sharpens your pen and teaches how to explain your work succinctly to non-experts. This will definitely help you in the competition for funding.
8. You meet new people
Blogging increases your visibility. You become a part of the ‘blogosphere’. Especially if you combine a blog with an active Twitter presence, you obtain a position amidst peers, professionals, policy makers, politicians, journalists and activists. You can use this network to spread your ideas, find partners, ask input for your research, and stay up to date on what’s new in your field.
9. You can contribute to the public debate
Cartloads of nonsense do their rounds on the internet for many topics. With your knowledge and expertise you can deliver an important contribution to busting the myths that persist online. A lot of people try to find answers online on issues like the safety of vaccinations, climate change or nutrition. Chances are that Google leads them to convincingly produced disinformation. Through honest, upright and transparent blogging you can provide a counterbalance.
10. You get presents
You never know what the result of blogging is. You make yourself ‘Googlable’ if you write in Laymans’ terms and put in the effort to relate your research to the experience of the public. People you don’t know will start to find you. This can lead to an invitation to speak for politicians, an offer of a publisher for a book for a general public or a column in a newspaper. And of course you’ll sometimes receive heart-warming responses from readers.
Tip: You don’t have to start blogging all by yourself. You can follow a training where you’ll become acquainted with the basic skills. And you can connect to existing blogs such as Wetenschap.nu. In this way, you ride on an existing audience, get good feedback on your texts and you can count on the support of a bloggers community.