This is the concluding post of the series where I sit down with expert bloggers to gain some insight into scientific blogging. Today we have with us Elizabeth Augustin. Elisabeth works at the University of Graz in the field of Curricula Development/Services for Teaching and Learning. She also teaches at the Department of Media and Communications (University of Klagenfurt) and works as a mediator. Her fields of expertise include: Educational and Curricula Development, Media and Communications, Media Pedagogy/Media Literacy and Conflict Management.
So let’s see what Elizabeth has to share!
Q) So how did you stumble into the world of blogging? What was your inspiration?
A) My first experience with weblogs was about 12 to 15 years ago. At the time I was curious about this new outlet for communication and wanted to understand how it worked. There was also a personal motive as I wanted to be in touch with my sister who was living abroad. This was a private blog though, since I recorded little stories concerning my daily life, which were important just for me, my family and friends.
Later when I started to work on my PhD thesis, I started following blogs to gain new perspectives on my research. I was very interested in how blogs influence our personal relationships and how we work through ideas during the online writing process. I was and I still am fascinated with the sheer amount of people who share details about personal life online. I wanted to know why.
Q) From your point of view what are the key points one should consider before launching a weblog?
A) There are various factors one should consider. I want to point out just two aspects:
- Know why and for whom
I think it is very important to have a clear concept for your weblog. You should know why you blog and who your intended target group is. Weblogs are multi functional and may serve different purposes at the same time. Once you are sure about your aim and target group, designing and posting content on the blog is easier.
- Get feedback
Starting a weblog is often associated with uncertainty about how to blog and a slight fear of critique. Before you launch your weblog, ask a friend or colleague to give you some feedback before going public.
Q) Why should young researchers engage in scientific blogging?
A) I can think of two main reasons as to why young researchers should engage in scientific blogging
- Thinking through writing
Working within the field of science and research involves networking and communicating. Especially with a weblog, early stage researchers can make themselves more visible and showcase their understanding in a specific field. Furthermore, writing and thinking are processes that are tied together very strongly. Blogging can help in idea generation and in organizing information. Also since weblogs are interactive, it facilitates receiving feedback which in turn helps in developing your work.
- It’s for you and your audience
Expressing your ideas and opinions in written form requires clarity. The writing exercise serves as a testbed to figure out if your concepts are sound. Also, since weblogs are open for the general public, there is a need to develop a different kind of communication. Writing for a diverse group of people is definitely a competence that is becoming more and more necessary and valued among scientists and researchers.
Q) Any advice on potential upsides and downsides with blogging that one should be aware of?
A) Blogging can be complex. It can be a lot of fun but it is also very time consuming. To write a good post which is easy to read and coherent is a demanding task. It is indeed a challenge to find the right balance between information, facts and a personal style of writing. How much personal information is appropriate and useful? You have to make a call on that.
You should be very careful with your research data, copyright issues and the privacy of others. More importantly, blogging should not be a means to meander away from your degree. It should be used as a means of communication which is more playful and creative then a scientific publication. Hence it is important to give your blog a personal touch; otherwise, you could use the time and energy to write just another scientific article.
If you have any additional questions reach out to me at elisabeth.augustin(at)uni-graz.at!