It’s hard to believe Res Gerendae is now nearing the end of its fifth academic year. Since we launched in November 2011, we’ve had over 200 posts by more than 20 different authors, and the whole blog has been viewed almost 86,000 times. We’ve had posts about research and graduate seminars; news and current affairs; reviews of books, TV shows, museums, and conferences; travel reports; cakes; silly stories about sheep; poems about lettuce; and much much more.
I’m feeling rather nostaglic about RG at the moment because, since I’m about to stop being a postgraduate, I’ve just taken the step of setting up my own new blog, ‘It’s All Greek To Me’ (so yes, this post is partly a plug to go check that out!). In fact, now that I think about, I feel considerably more nostaglic about leaving this blog behind than I did/do about actually submitting the thesis (I’m not sure what that says about my priorities…).
Thinking back over the last five years, writing for RG has been a lot of fun – but it’s also genuinely been a really useful experience in teaching me more about how to write. Learning to write in ‘blogging mode’ has made me more aware of how I write and present my ideas in different styles in more ‘traditional’ academic formats – which I think may actually have improved my writing overall (even if it hasn’t completely cured my habit of writing horrendously long sentences, for which I blame a misspent youth being made to read Thucydides). Also, of course, blogging is a great way not just to engage with other academics, but also of spreading your research much more widely (keywords: outreach and impact!). I once ended up spending a significant part of a scholarship interview (whose application form had a section to specify outreach activities) talking about how I write blog posts about cakes with inscriptions on them. I’m not going to say that’s what got me the scholarship, but it obviously didn’t hurt…
As alert readers may have worked out by now, the main point of this post is really to encourage other grads to keep blogging on RG. Everybody in the Faculty has interesting things to say, whether it’s about your main research topic, or that tangential issue you’re not quite going to manage to fit into the current thesis chapter, or the book you just read, or something you saw on the news yesterday… A blog post doesn’t have to be long, or extensively footnoted, or something you’ve spent weeks polishing into perfection – it just needs to be something you’re interested in that you think other people would be interested in as well. It can be as serious, or as silly, and/or as full of cute pictures of puppies, as you want it to be; it gives you CV outreach points, it can be a way of starting really interesting conversations, and most of all it’s fun! (and an excellent way of procrastinating from the PhD…). I may be starting up my own blog now partly as a way of sharing aspects of my future research, but mainly I’m doing it because I’ve enjoyed RG too much over the last five years to give up blogging now.
If anyone does feel inspired by this (or at least by the puppies) to try writing a blog post – and I hope some of you will! – please do get in touch with the RG team (via the comments, or firstname.lastname@example.org) to get set up with an account, or just to ask any questions you might have. Josh and I will also be at the grad meeting on Monday to talk more about blogging, so please come talk to us then!