More citations, new audiences, and memes… who doesn’t want that?

On the way back from teaching a bunch of HREC members about ethics in qualitative research I stopped at the delightful Berkelouw Book Barn for tea and cake. The sun beamed in the window, warming up my right side, while a fire blazed, warming up my left side. And I drafted a blog post.

In the middle of my teaching session I thought, hang on this is interesting… HREC members don’t sound confident about judging if a researcher is competent to undertake the qualitative project under review. When I started sketching out the blog idea I wasn’t sure where the idea would go. By the time I headed out into the cold winter day I knew it would produce a list of tips for spotting competence. That was Tuesday afternoon, Thursday morning the post was ready to go live.

In a great post for Writing For Research, titled “How to write a blogpost from your journal article“, Patrick Dunleavy says among the misconceptions about blogging is the idea that:

…publishing a blogpost takes the time and hassle involved in submitting to journals, trekking through box after box of obscure electronic publishing bureaucracy, and then waiting weeks or months before seeing a proof, and months more for publication.

Blogs are not supposed to be hard, they are a way to get your ideas out quickly. Stephen Dubner – half of the team behind Freakonomics – said this about the blogging that started the Freakonomics phenomenon:

I kinda miss, like, every morning waking up and saying, you know, “Do I have anything worth saying?” And going right there, and publishing it. ‘Cause, like, the whole idea of– Growing up as a journalist where there was a hierarchy and someone controlled the printing press, and above and below that were editors who controlled what went to the printing press; the whole notion of publishing yourself with the click of a button so that thousands of people can read it is incredibly intoxicating.

Not enough that it is easy and quick? How about the idea that it’ll boost your citations? In “How to write a blogpost from your journal article“, Dunleavy says:

Academically a blogpost boosts citations for the core article itself. It advertises your journal article in ways that can get it far more widely read than just pushing the article out into the ether to sink or swim on its own. A post reaches other researchers in your discipline (those who are not digital hermits). And because it’s accessibly written, it travels well, goes overseas, gets re-tweeted and re-liked. It takes the ‘memes’ key to your research into a limited viral spread. It also gets read by academics outside your immediate sub-field and discipline, potentially pulling new audiences to your work.

More citations, new audiences, and memes… who doesn’t want that? The VELiM blog had 265 views in May, 103 in June (and we’re only on day four). So why not read Dunleavy’s article, ‘bang out’ your 1000 words and share your idea?

And just in case you need any more encouragement. I once watched in awe as a colleague co-wrote an opinion piece via Google Docs with a co-author contributing from the other side of the world; they discussed it via Skype Messenger. Somehow she also managed to make meaningful contributions to the tedious meeting we were in. The lesson? You can always find time.