One year on: why we STILL like blogging

As 2013 draws to a close, we suddenly realised we had been here, blogging, for one whole year. Happy birthday us! Back in March, I wrote about our early experiences of group blogging. I highlighted lots of positives – pulling us together as a team, giving us a platform to present our work, and in particular offering us a different way of writing about who we are and what we do. The downside was worrying about “getting into trouble” somehow by not presenting the “right” research group image. The perennial “someone has to take responsibility” was also there and, inevitably, still is.

One year on, we are still pretty enthusiastic about the blogging game. Pat Thomson and Inger Mewburn wrote recently for the Guardian’s Higher Education Network on why academics blog, suggesting bloggers often joined a global “common room” of fellow bloggers, as well offering a sort of personal open access publishing. I asked my colleagues what they thought of our blogging to date. Many did focus on what it brought them as individuals, particularly the ability to write for an audience outside of formal academic writing. As Rupert, one of our clinical lecturers (and the technical guy behind the blog) said – “It’s nice to simply put ‘pen to paper’ and write about something that interests you that you might not otherwise have an opportunity to talk about, such as my blog about PowerPoint. And I like writing stuff – so regardless of whether anyone reads it, it is quite nice sometimes to just be creative.” (good plug for your blog there Rupert)

Looking at the blogs we have written, they are a pretty esoteric bunch. We’ve covered “the story behind” lots of our papers; reviewed conferences; advised on reviewing papers and conducting postal surveys; monitored Mumsnet discussions; commented on policy; and tried to explain aspects of statistics. And it’s been great. As Katie, one of statisticians, said to me “I have really quite a dull life but at least via the CCHSR blog I can bask in the reflected glory of a blog interesting enough that the BJGP tweets about it.”

The group platform is great for those of us who may lack confidence to blog individually (at the moment, none of us runs our own blog), as we can blog once every few weeks or months and feel somewhat protected by the CCHSR shield. And we seem to have relaxed about the idea of making our ideas public outside of the peer-review process. Sadly, I still run around the office pleading with people to write blogs, but that’s fine: the end result is definitely worth it.

Back in March, I mentioned we might take on a more formal evaluation of the impact of our blogging, and in fact, being researchers to the core, we have. I’ll tell you more about that next year. In the meantime, I wish you all a Happy Christmas, and a wonderful 2014.

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged . Group: . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • The Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research (CCHSR) is a thriving collaboration between the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe. We aim to inform health policy and practice by conducting research and evaluation studies of organisation and delivery of healthcare, including safety, effectiveness, efficiency and patient experience.