Research: the academic blog

In the School of Creative Arts, learning contexts and specific assignments sometimes require students to document the stages of inquiry, alongside the development of practical and/or written projects.

Good documentation will show:

  • your research, analysis and evaluation of relevant topics, artefacts, sources and practitioners
  • your planning process and time-management skills, including a clear sense of progression
  • your developing knowledge of technical processes
  • ongoing reflection on, and evaluation of, your work

An efficient and practical way to handle this process is to maintain an individual online blog throughout the project. Sometimes you will be asked to create blog – or perhaps contribute to a group blog – as part of assessment.

What is a blog?

A blog, short for ‘web log’, is a special type of web page – an online journal – but with unique characteristics that set it apart from regular web pages. Blogs are made up of multiple journal entries listed in reverse chronological order that include a title, a date, and time stamp.

The formatting and layout is arranged by an online engine but you can usually personalise your site by changing the template used.

Blogs are easy to set up and maintain, and can include text, images and embedded media (video, etc.). One of the real advantages of this kind of journal is that hyper-linking can be used to connect your ideas directly with other sources online.

Blog engines are generally free and require simple registration. Popular examples include:

There is also a blog function in your personal portal in StudyNet but it won’t reach the big wide world, only UH. But it can be a good way to put your toe in the water.

How do I start blogging?

  1. Go to one of the available free blogging sites
  2. Provide the necessary information requested (user name, password, etc.)
  3. Create a title for your blog
  4. Accept terms and select a template
  5. Publish!

What makes a good academic blog?

A good blog will have a personal voice and will provide rich insights into research processes, project development, and so on. Aim for something which:

  • gets to the point
  • has a good clear structure, easily navigated, using strong titles and indexing of key terms and ideas
  • is punchy, vivid, charismatic, relaxed and interesting (a good read!)
  • is varied and lively in its presentation of ideas, using words, images (found, scanned, created), diagrams, video, and clearly labelled links to other web sources
  • shows you thinking as well as describing, reflecting on ideas, thoughts, experiences (e.g. films seen, TV programmes watched, games played, people met, conversations had, exhibitions visited, books read, technology encountered, news noted, events happening)
  • uses accurate grammar and spelling, avoiding short-cuts like txt spk and the use of lower case ‘I’
  • uses an accurate and consistent academic referencing style to source materials (see Skills Guide on Referencing here)
  • comes back to topics to show developing thought

Some examples of blogs

Further information

There are many books which cover the wider practice of blogging. Useful insights and technical guidance can be gained from reading these, but remember that you will be creating blogs as part of your studies as a way of recording and reflecting on the processes behind particular pieces of academic work.

  • Castro, E. (2005) Publishing a Blog with Blogger, Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.
  • McBride, N & Cason, J. (2006) Teach Yourself Blogging, London: Teach Yourself.
  • Miller, M. (2006) Blogging with the ‘New Google Blogger’, Indianapolis, IN: Que, 2006.
  • Walsh, B. (2007) Clear Blogging: how people blogging are changing the world and how you can join them, New York, NY: Apress.
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