Today I noticed that my previous blog post on ‘How to manage a research library with Zotero’ had made it onto the LSE Impact of Social Sciences most popular blogs of the year list. I am of course delighted by this, but also feel a little guilty as it has been close to three months since my last post here. I thought I would take the hint and take a few minutes to reflect on why I started this blog in the first place, what I have got out of it, and what I want it to be going forward…
Ok, lets get the excuses over with first. One thing that I have learned since starting this blog back in June is that blogging is hard – or at least keeping on top of a single author blog is hard. Finding and justifying the time to write posts is difficult in the midst of a busy academic workload. I managed quite well over the summer period, even managing a post a week at one point, but then the new academic year began. My workload is such that about 80% of my teaching falls in semester 1 so almost all of my time is taken up with teaching, preparation of teaching material, administration and marking. Very little research time, and certainly no time for writing blog posts. Semester 2 on the other hand is my research time. I hope to be able to write more posts here then too.
This brings me on to think about why I started this blog in the first place. Looking back I stated in my first post that I intended to use this space as a sounding board for my ideas, as well as communicating my research to a wider audience than is afforded by the usual academic publishing outlets. I also suggested I would be discussing my experiences as a new academic. I think I have done most of these things, with perhaps a little more emphasis on the latter subject. I truly believe that all academics should have a blog. I think that it is our duty to disseminate our research to as wide and broad an audience as possible. In doing so we democratise knowledge and make it more accessible.
So, what have I got out of this blog? Well so far it has been incredibly rewarding. The reflective nature of post writing has helped me to formulate my ideas and better understand what it is I actually do as an academic. I have also been fortunate to gain some useful exposure on other blogs such as the LSE Impact of Social Sciences, the Thesis Whisperer and the Guardian Higher Eduction Network to name a few. Such exposure has driven traffic to this site and hopefully resulted in a wider audience for my research. It has also led to a little more personal credibility it would seem – many of my students and peers have seen the site and have an idea of who I am and what I do…so far feedback has been wholly positive. Finally I have made some new friends across twitter and other social networks, many of whom I have subsequently met in ‘real’ life. Any negatives? not really – other than the nagging guilt of not updating enough 😉
And so to the future. I suspect I will continue with the academic life posts as I move on in my career – it is a strange vocation this in many ways, but very rewarding. I would like to write more about my research area (once I really understand what that is) and be a little more adventurous in articulating my ideas and creating opinion rather than simply disseminating the views of others. Finally I promise to try to write here more (which may be good or bad depending on your opinion). I have a lot to say – just need to find the time and words to say it….