Looking over the latest edition of GRAD Britain magazine (see previous post), I was interested to read Suzi Richer’s entry on how her blog helped her to get through the tedium of thesis submission.
I was especially interested to find that Suzi had used the blog, entitled ‘Springtime’, to write about growing and eating food rather than about her PhD (on archaeology). It was this, she writes, which gave her an alternative focus to the PhD and helped her break through the writers block that becomes so common in the final stages of the thesis. Suzi also felt that the time spent on her blog gave her an alternative framework which allowed her the much-needed breaks away from writing at various points during the day.
To blog or not to blog?
Reading Suzi’s article made me wonder just how many researchers out there have resorted to blogging to help them through their thesis. So I decided to find out. I suppose the most obvious question is – what do you blog about? Whilst Suzi felt that it was better to blog about something unrelated to the PhD (and therefore allowing her to have periods of ‘switching off’), I can also see the merits of using a PhD blog to communicate research to the outside world (knowledge transfer). The decision is, as always, up to you.
My exploration of PhD-related blogs brought up some really interesting examples, all giving foundation to the idea that a blog really is what you make it. I was especially happy to come across a blog by David Truss, with 3 years of blogging now behind him. David felt that his blog was an invaluable exercise in reflective learning and professional development. It is easy to see why something like a blog can be so valuable when you are able to read back previous posts and actually track your progress, reflecting on what went well and what could be improved. You can read David’s blog here: http://pairadimes.davidtruss.com/.
Another take on the PhD blog is called ‘PhD Studies in Human Rights’, which is a different kind of blog – one which is intended for doctoral students in the field of human rights to engage with each other and share ideas and developments. If your field doesn’t have a blog, then why not create one? I read an article on networking recently which highlighted that if you want to become known, creating a research ‘community’ (whether institutionally or online) can make a huge difference. It is also something to speak about at job interviews, at conferences – and a way of getting yourself known amongst academics. To read the human rights blog click here: http://humanrightsdoctorate.blogspot.com/.
Perhaps a more ‘traditional’ take on the PhD-related blog is that written by a lady calling herself ‘Mrs M’ who recently completed a PhD at the Centre for Cultural Research in Western Sydney. This blog is traditional in the sense that the posts were related to the ins and outs of PhD research. Whilst Mrs M didn’t post every week, even looking back over the previous posts on the blog suggests that even an occasional post helps to trace the development of the thesis. Sadly Mrs M is not blogging any more but you can still read her blog here: http://www.phdblogit.blogspot.com/.
And finally, last but not least, I thought I would find Suzi’s blog too: http://springtimeinthecountry.blogspot.com/