The Role of Authorship: Blogging Tips for Academics, Part 1

Tips to get you thinking about the role of authorship when writing for a blog.

Cross-posted on the Inside Teaching MSU Blog, this post (and the others in this “Blogging Tips” series) represents not only a newly-established relationship between the Hub and Inside Teaching at Michigan State University, but also a shared commitment to the development of communities and scholars dedicated to innovation and excellence in academia. Inside Teaching MSU is a network and resource primarily for graduate students at MSU. That said, we hope the relationship between Inside Teaching MSU and the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, marked by the cross-posting of this blog series, demonstrates this shared commitment and relevance to all academics, not just graduate students. In this blog series, we present an approach to blogging which began with Inside Teaching and is now shared by the Hub. As we suggest below, the prompting questions and tips that we provide are relevant to a broad audience (whether that be graduate students, undergraduate students, specialists, fix-term or tenured faculty, or staff). We refer generally to “academics” and “scholars” below to reflect this.

In today’s academic world, having a digital presence is becoming a fundamental part of scholarly work. At institutions across the world, including Michigan State University, scholars are being urged to cultivate a public online scholarly presence. In doing so, they are being asked to make their scholarly work public by sharing it in online or digital spaces. The benefits of doing so are vast: having a digital presence can lead to an increased social network, facilitate engagement with individuals outside of academia, share your work in an accessible and public way (which can help with hiring and promotion), and even begin the peer review process prior to publication.

An important and popular approach to an online scholarly presence is blogging: relatively short, online publications which serve to make public, share, or record a variety of content. That said, we recognize that blogging may be a new experience or type of writing for some. Additionally, we recognize that even those that do have experience in writing for a blog may be seeking to further network, realign themselves, or expand their online scholarship. Regardless, as you cultivate your public online scholarly presence, it is essential for you to consider three aspects of blogging: authorship, audience, and the blog itself. In this post, we ask you to consider the role of authorship. There is no one single model for a successful blog post. As such, we intentionally frame this blog post around prompting questions to get you thinking about the process and authorship: Who are you? Who do you want to be? and What style will you use to get there?

Who are you?

Have you taken time to consider who you are as an academic, what type of scholar you are, or (and especially if you do not identify as an academic or a scholar) who you are as an individual or an author? Though the utility of these questions might not be initially straight-forward, they are useful in helping you establish what lenses, frameworks, and perspectives you bring to your work, in addition to those which you do not have access to or expertise in. For example, you may be thinking about your own discipline, scholarly affiliations, interests (both scholarly and not), and so on. What matters to you? Why does it matter to you? Who are you in relation to the topic at hand?

Who do you want to be?

Part of cultivating an online scholarly presence is thinking about who you want to be seen as; as a scholar, as a researcher, as an educator, etc. Your blog will say something about you, so investing time into thinking about what you want it to say is paramount. You are building an identity for yourself in this digital space, establishing a wider network and making choices accordingly. As a result, it is important to be strategic about building your own “brand.” Is there one “thing” that you want to be known for or known for writing about? Are there specific styles, methods, or theories that you want to be associated with? Do you want to show connections between your blog post and your other work? Consider what it means to be an “intellectual leader” in your discipline and then what it might mean to become and represent one.

What style will you use to get there?

In addition to thinking about who you are and who you want to be (i.e. what your blog will say about you), you also need to think about how you actually go about saying that. More specifically, you should be thinking about the style and tone you use to present/represent authorship. Whether that be connecting information or research to educational practices or recounting your weekend adventures, your tone and style play essential roles in establishing and supporting how authorship and scholarship is represented throughout the blog. As an initial starting point, we suggest being approachable and humble, making sure not to question the intelligence of or unnecessarily challenge your readers. This is not intended to be a top-down effort, but the beginning of a conversation for educators interested in crafting or expanding their online scholarly presence.

Again, investing some time thinking about the role of authorship in blogging is a helpful and necessary. While you might not identify as a “blogger” at the moment, it only takes some minor reframing to get started. We hope this blog serves as a useful guide as you work on your public online scholarly presence.

We welcome any questions you have and stories or examples you are willing to share as you engage with either this post or the blogging experience in general. You can find us on Twitter (@InsideTeaching) or Facebook (Inside Teaching MSU). In the next part of this three part series, we dive into the role audience plays with respect to blogging.

Resources

Long, C.P. (2017, March 14). Charting a Path to Intellectual Leadership, then Following It. College of Arts and Letters. Retrieved from http://cplong.org/2017/03/charting-a-path-to-intellectual-leadership-then-following-it/.

Long, C.P. (2016, August 30). Investing in Online Scholarly Presence. College of Arts and Letters. Retrieved from http://www.cal.msu.edu/news/webhostingservice.
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Inside Teaching MSU is a network and resource for MSU Graduate Students and Postdocs, dedicated to promoting teaching excellence through conversation and sharing practices. Inside Teaching MSU is about interconnection, about finding opportunities to decentralize conversations about teaching, and to take advantage of the expertise of our community of Graduate Students and Postdocs. @InsideTeaching

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