The Connected Leiden Researcher

To Blog or Not to Blog?

To Blog or Not to Blog?

July's theme is blogging. What is blogging, why would you blog, and how does it relate to altmetrics? Other posts will feature a look at science-blogging, best practices, tools and platforms, and an interview to finish out the month.

What is blogging?

As you're on one right now, the Connected Leiden Researcher, you probably already have an inkling of what a blog is: a site on the internet where you can share your thoughts with the world in one place and in a slightly longer format than on Twitter or in your typical Facebook status. Blogs were often described as online journals or diaries, but they've evolved far beyond that scope. So if a blog is a place where you share your thoughts in the form of posts or articles, blogging is the act of writing these posts. The word blog is a derivation of weblog, which betrays its roots as an online diary.

Why would you blog?

Blogging can help you work through your thought process and give you a better grip on what you're working on. Research shows that blogging often takes on the form of informal discourse between academics, a conversation without boundaries, whether they might be geographical, reputation-based, age-based, or otherwise defined. It allows you to connect your research with current events as a form of public outreach which clarifies not just what you're researching, but it's relevance as well. For example, when Russia banned gay-rights activism and the rest of the world protested by asking the Russian government for empathy, Marlon Mooijman, a PhD candidate with Social and Organisational Psychology shared a post discussing how his research had shown this would have an adverse effect. And the recent rise to prominence of ISIS in the Middle East sparked blog posts from PhD candidates at both the  Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology and the Centre for Terrorism & Counterterrorism, one describing current research on the topic of jihadism and the other explaining what ISIS is exactly.

How do blogs figure into altmetrics?

Altmetrics count blog posts that link directly to papers (or in some cases when the posts are written in English text-mining can be used) and weigh any blog posts counted at a default score of 5, with the possibility that the score might increase based on the reach of the blog. As such, while blog posts on an article will most probably be fewer in number than tweets mentioning it, the blog posts count more heavily towards the total altmetrics score.

Blogs at Leiden University

There are numerous researchers at Leiden University who run a blog. Most of these are personal blogs, where they are the sole author and created and maintained by themselves. However, Leiden University also has several group blogs run by various institutes and research groups, such as the Leiden Law Blog, the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition Blog and the Leiden Safety and Security Blog. These blogs have been designed with support of the university's web experts. If you're interested in starting a blog of your own, solo or as part of a research group and would like support, you can contact your faculty communication liaison officer. If you'd like to see more Leiden blogs for inspiration there's a wonderful overview on the university website with lists of institutional blogs, group blogs, and personal blogs.

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