October 10, 2011

Publishing on the Web for Postgraduate Researchers

The author of the blog posts for this week’s theme is Mark Carrigan. Mark is a postgraduate researcher in the Sociology department. He is a prolific blogger and can be found on a number of social networking sites online.

What does the word ‘blog’ mean to you? For many people it has connotations which are far from glamorous. Witness BBC journalist Andrew Marr's dismissal of bloggers at the Cheltenham Literary Festival last year: "A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting."

However in conversations about blogging, the product is often confused with the platform. While many people do use blogs for the sort of sole authored ranting that Marr suggests, this is simply one use of the underlying technology. The platform itself is immensely powerful: zero cost, immediate, easy to use, customizable, collaborative online publishing.

Blogs are starting to have a big impact in academic life. In fact our own Vice Chancellor recently drew attention to ‘the power of blogs in forming new fields of international study’. Blogs can be particularly invaluable for postgraduate researchers. They allow us to engage in a whole range of academic activities (communication, networking, collaboration, dissemination, public engagement) much more easily and quickly than was previously possible. The academic ‘blogosphere’ is growing rapidly and it offers a wide range of opportunities for postgraduate researchers. Here are some examples of how blogging can be used by PhD students:

The next post will introduce you to thing 1 and your first activity - 'Creating a blog and writing your first post'.

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