Why blogging in academia is important

3 minute read

Researchers are busy people. We always have many things to do, and we often delay in delivering our projects. How many times did you receive an email that started with “sorry for this late response”, or perhaps an email that was not even answered? This behavior is so normal in academia that we do not think this is strange anymore.

Since we are so deeply involved in our projects, we have little to no time to take care of side projects that may not lead you to that tenure that you often dream about. More concretely, if the project does not help a researcher to improve her metrics, such as number of citations or number of publications, chances are that this project may be delayed, or even abandoned. This is why blogging in academia is so hard. Because blogging will not help you to get tenure, to get that paper accepted, or to help your research be funded. On the contrary, blog will take away that precious time that you could invest in things that will, indeed, improve your performance counters.

However, blogging in academia is extremely important. Think about that researcher that you admire the work she does. How cool would be if she would write blog posts describing the process that she use to find new ideas, or how she hire students,
or how to deal with their problems, what she does to recover from paper deadlines, what she thinks about conferences, journals, etc. When you blog, you let people know more about not only your work, but also you. These conversations are, however, natural in conferences. But if you blog, you help someone that does not have funding to attend a conference. When you blog, you also spread your voice to many more people than you could reach in a conference. Think you as a young student. How amazing it would be to see yourself facing the same problems (or perhaps conceiving the same ideas) that a well known researcher, with many more years of experience, in that top university, also face. We are all human, we all face problems. But blogging makes it transparent.

Blogging is also a tech transfer channel. Since blog posts are shorter than most academic research papers, readers can read all your blog posts in a small amount of time, and then could get a much better perception about the kind of work you like to do. None of this could be accomplished with research papers solely (OK, you can learn about ones work while reading his papers, but it would take much, much more time). Blogging can also spread your findings faster. Say, instead of sharing your beautiful research paper with practitioners, why don’t you write a blog post summarizing the key findings, and share these findings (in a much better format) with them? Blogging can also help you to improve your writing skills, which is particularly valuable for those (like me) who are not from English speaking countries.

The paradox: I know that blogging is important and I do really want to blog more. However, blogging tasks a good amount of time that I could use to work or to stay with my family. To keep blogging, however,, I made a deal with myself: I will not revise any of my blog posts. That is, after I am done with what I consider the first draft, I will post it immediately. I took this decision because revising and editing could take as much as or even more time than the first draft itself. For instance, if I need one hour to write one blog post, it would actually mean two hours, at least: one for writing, one for revising.

I am aware that many posts here have typos and strange wording. But I believe it is better to have blog posts with writing issues rather than no blog post. Although not polished, I think these blog posts serve their proposes: which is to communicate.