Guest post by Siobhan Dytham.
In a recent Editorial Board meeting, we were talking about authors writing blog posts about their published articles. I shared that I actually had personal experience of doing this, so I was asked to write this blog post to share my experience with others and hopefully encourage authors of IJSRM articles to write blogs about their work.
The original article, The Construction and Maintenance of Exclusion, Control and Dominance through Secondary School Students’ Sitting Practices was published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education. Shortly after publication, I was invited to write a guest blog about the research for the Architecture and Education blog. I had never written a blog post before so I was not sure about the process or how it would turn out, but I decided to give it a go! You can read the blog post, How students claim and police school space through sitting at the link.
The existence of the blog post instantly improved the Alt Metrics of my article because it included a reference to my article! Also, the blog owner promoted the blog and encouraged people to read it, so I had someone else sharing and promoting my work on social media for me. Their social media posts boosted the article’s Alt Metrics even further, but also helped to get my work out into new networks.
These kinds of blogs are usually entirely open access and contain many links to and from other sources, so they are well optimised for search engines. This means that my blog post appears high-up in the list of Google search results. If you Google ‘Siobhan Dytham’, it appears on the first page of results, much higher than many of my academic publications. This helps more people to find my work and directs those people to my original article.
Writing the blog also helped me to improve my writing and communication skills. The opening sentence of the journal article is clearly targeted at a research audience with knowledge of this area:
“Students develop highly effective strategies for controlling and excluding others (Davies and Hunt 1994; Niemi and Bateman 2015; Read, Francis, and Skelton 2011), and relational aggression is an important tool in delineating group boundaries, excluding people, and controlling and managing behaviour (Currie and Kelly 2006; Merten 1997)” (Dytham, 2018a).
However, writing the blog post gave me the opportunity to think about how I would explain this to a non-specialist audience. The opening sentence is much more accessible (and hopefully a bit more engaging!)
“Students spend most of their time at school sitting. Whether in classrooms, in dining halls, on benches or walls outside, or perhaps even on the floor in corridors” (Dytham, 2018b).
It was a useful process for me to think about how I could explain my research in a more public friendly, non-specialist way. This gave me a new view of my research and I think also improved my skills. This was very helpful when writing funding applications, where the reviewers are often not specialists in your specific research area, so it is helpful for them to see clear, accessible explanations of the research that clearly highlight the impact. Also, since ‘impact’ and ‘public engagement’ have become increasingly important aspects of modern research, it’s good to show that you can communicate your research to a public audience, beyond traditional formats like journal articles.
I really feel that writing a blog about my article was very beneficial, so much so that I have now written this blog about my blog so that all these benefits can happen all over again! I would really encourage authors to consider writing a blog about their IJSRM article.
The original article, Dytham, S. (2018a) The Construction and Maintenance of Exclusion, Control and Dominance through Secondary School Students’ Sitting Practices, British Journal of Sociology of Education’, is available (open access) at: https://doi.org/10.1080/01425692.2018.1455494
The blog about the article, Dytham, S. (2018b) “You can’t sit there”: How students claim and police school space through sitting is available at: https://architectureandeducation.org/2018/05/22/you-cant-sit-there-how-students-claim-and-police-school-space-through-sitting/
Dr Siobhan Dytham is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Faculty of Health, Education and Society, University of Northampton
ORCID ID: 0000-0003-4928-0309