The Distinctive Interest of Difference: A Reminder for Scholars
Many academics and scientists who would like to join the ranks of scholars now disseminating their research via blogs and web sites hesitate because they fear that they have nothing interesting to write for online readers. There is a touch of the ludicrous about this, of course, yet the fear is a very real one and prevents many fascinating scholarly voices from reaching the information-hungry readers available online. A look at the facts can be helpful. Academics and scientists do cutting-edge research, make new discoveries that change social and environmental policies and spend their lives teaching other people in classrooms and through published books and articles. Scholars are hardly people, then, who have nothing interesting to say, so if you are considering how to begin online, playing up your difference as a researcher can prove very interesting indeed for your readers and perhaps even somewhat instructive for you.
You know, of course, that your perspective, your ways of thinking and your research project are unique. You saw the gap in current knowledge, after all, and designed a research proposal to fill it. Your methods represent an advancement of previous scholarship in the area. They reshaped the questions you were able to ask and the hypotheses you formulated. No doubt, they will affect or have already affected your results. These and many other aspects of your research that make it different from the work that has gone before are ready-made topics for short online articles. Pick one as your focus and explain why the difference is so important. A title that highlights the difference will draw your audience, and be sure to give them what your title has offered by diving into the innovative aspects of your research at once – ideally in the first sentence or two.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Published
Large research projects provide fodder for many short online articles. These can become something of a series – modern readers seem to love series and will come back time and again for the next instalment if an author holds their interest and delivers on his or her promises. A regular blogging schedule can be helpful, but only if you can keep up with it. Whether you write every week, every month or only sporadically, several blogs about a single research project will begin to tell the story of your research. Every investigative project does have a story, after all, and a plot based on difference – different procedures, different questions, different analyses and different findings – will give you a sound thread for weaving an engaging tale about your research.
Focussing on what is different about your approach as you write short pieces to share your research online will help you see that difference more clearly as well and therefore help you understand just how important your innovations proved to be. You will probably have a better idea about the audience for your published writing, for which your blog or web site will be excellent advertising, and you may have even received some helpful feedback from your online readers. When you sit down to write that article or book or thesis to report your research more formally to your scholarly community, those differences you have been thinking about as you produced blog posts will be essential aspects of your contribution to knowledge and clear markers along the textual route you will be following.
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