Publishers, take note: Academic blogging is good for your journal. Blogs boost core article citations to extend your reach and advertise your journal, an article, and its authors to a wider audience. And despite old assumptions and stuffy stereotypes, blogs do make it to researchers and other interested parties within academic circles. They may even show up in a tweet or two. With all this potential for exposure, audience accessibility, and a [much] wider reach, academic blogging should top publisher and author to-do lists for the new year.
Academia in the blogosphere
Let’s start by stating the obvious: Blogs bear little [if any] resemblance to academic writing. In scope, tone, approach, and yes, publication, blogging may feel like a whole new world. [Cue Disney music.] Blogs are typically informal, conversational, and far less rigid about structure. And while this may be difficult for academic writers and publishers to digest, there is no such thing as a blogging “best practice.” What follows are suggestions. One or two may approach “guideline” status, but when you get down to the blogging nitty gritty, the rules are: There are no rules.
- Pick your piece. Starting again with the obvious: When blogging with a particular audience in mind, pick subject matter to appeal to said audience. Personal blogs feature a lot of personal opinion. Business and professional blogs target specific readers with topics they care about. You’re not blogging for fun or to share random thoughts. You’re aiming relevant information at relevant readers. Which is not to suggest you should strive to be dull or excessively serious. Fun may be beside the point — as long as it doesn’t detract from it.
- Choose your venue. When blogging for a chosen audience, seek them where they gather. Does audience participation matter? Turn comments on [or off]. If you decide to welcome commentary, set a watch [pick a moderator] to keep comments [and commenters] in check. Audience interaction is good for exposure, but don’t expose your journal or its authors to detractors, spam, or inappropriate remarks.
- Get pithy with it. Academic writers follow logic threads from introduction to conclusion. They also title [and subtitle] their papers with precision. To acclimate to the blogosphere, begin with the end. Draw blog titles from the article’s primary conclusion, and then [brace yourself], convert it into something catchy or clever — or both!
- Translation! Translation! Translation! If accessibility is the point, academic language is going to miss it by a mile. You might cringe — and your authors most definitely will — but the genius jargon isn’t going to cut it in the blogosphere. Blogs are written in the common tongue, and it’s no sin against your academic syntax to put things plainly for the layperson. Academic blogging is all about translating complex ideas for a wide digital audience.
- Get the picture. Digital media is visual. Pick out pictures, videos, graphics, stick figures, etc. to complement written content. Now, take a look at the whole blog. Does it fit together nicely? Are the images of good and similar quality? Is the font easy to read? What’s the visual impact of the whole kit and caboodle?
- The missing links. Publishers, journals, and authors are already online and on social media. Link your blogs to all appropriate associated accounts for yet more [free!] exposure.
Leveraging social media for academic exposure may not come naturally to publishers or their authors. And though academics might still receive the odd raised eyebrow for it, academic blogging is gaining ground and helping academia branch out. Still need convincing?
Advantages of academic blogging for publishers, journals, and authors
The idea of setting academia free may ruffle some publisher and author feathers — at first. Academic blogging pulls academia outside of academy walls, translates it for public consumption, and lays it — free of charge — at the feet of the layperson. “Counterintuitive” might be on the mild side. But academic blogging has its advantages, so let’s hit the high notes to wrap this up:
- Translating jargon into human flexes unfamiliar writing muscles and broadens the academic author’s horizons.
- Getting the word out gets people interested in what academics are doing and why. And research can always use support.
- Reach drives exposure drives credibility drives interest.
When you live in hallowed halls, it’s all too easy to disconnect from the wide, wild world. Academic blogging connects academic research, writing, and publishing to the wider world it serves. And in the end, everybody wins.