Faculty Blogging

I’m reading an article by Andrew Careaga called “Why researchers should blog” and thought I would note some of the best points for you.

Andrew’s blog starts with the case of Peter Janiszewski, a health sciences researcher, who released one of his publications as a five part blog series and went from unknown to being read by 12,000 people and covered by MSNBC.

“[T]he same research which I published in a prestigious medical journal and made basically no impact, was then viewed by over 12,000 sets of eyes because I decided to discuss it online.” – Peter Janiszewski, Why all scientists should blog: a case study

MSNBC also contacted him for a story. The MSNBC story does cite the journal article, but it was primarily through Janszewski’s own blogging efforts that his research drew the attention he did.

… he did not usurp the traditional approach to scholarship. He merely augmented it — providing in essence a public service by sharing the new knowledge to a broader audience.

I don’t see Janiszewski’s efforts as self-serving but as a service to the public.

Andrew also discusses how a retired professor’s blog brought considerable media attention to his university during the BP oil spill:

David A. Summers, Curators’ Professor emeritus of mining engineering, is an expert in energy and blogs extensively on his own site, Bit Tooth Energy, and on the popular energy site The Oil Drum, where he goes by the nom de blog Heading Out. Last spring, when BP was attempting its “top kill” approach to plugging the leak in the Gulf of Mexico, several news outlets contacted our office in search of Summers. Other reporters contacted Summers directly, thanks to his accessibility via both blogs. Reporters knew about Summers not only from his research in the field of high-pressure fluids, but also from his blogging. As a result, our campus and Summers both got a good deal of media coverage. It was a win-win.

As soon as I started reading this post, I remembered a presentation by Jim Estill back in 2008 in Toronto.  Jim’s CEO Blog “Time Leadership” is the number one Google result for “CEO Blog.” His blog is so visible and so widely read in no small part due to his success at posting frequent updates – something that is very challenging for anyone with a busy schedule such as his.  Here is a link to a post by Jim discussing 8 ways he is able to write a blog post in 20 minutes: http://www.jimestill.com/2005/11/8-tricks-to-write-article-in-20.html

Blogging requires a commitment to frequently generate new content.  In return, it offers forgiveness on length and formality.  When I discuss blogging with faculty, I caution that there is an expectation of at least 2 posts per month.  For faculty that are not familiar with the tone and style of blogging (short & conversational), the tips Jim offers in the link above can help them transition from the pressure of academic writing to the less demanding expectations of a blog.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the kind mention.

    Blogging certainly is a way to “get found” regardless of field.

  2. I think there is value to faculty blogging. My personal experience is that I took an unread article of mine from a print journal and put it on a blog. I’ve had 20,000 hits.

    I have decided to by-pass publishing in print journals because of the currency of my scholarly work. I study and comment on current events in my field. If I were to get published in print journals, there would be a 1-2 year lag. Why waste time and effort going for a print pub when it the material will be hopelessly outdated by the time it sees the light of day.

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