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Using blogging in academic research

Published in Theory by Mark Murphy on May 7, 2013


(C) Kristina B

On Wednesday the 8th May I will (alongside Claire Scott @missclairescott) deliver a social media workshop at Strathclyde University, on how to use blogging in research. The audience will predominantly be made up of post-graduate students and early career researchers, and it makes sense to use my own blogging platform as a way to engage participants in this topic (the site being geared towards these groups in particular).

I’m going to use this blog post as a guide for the presentation, and it will cover the following themes:

1. My ‘blog’ – what is my website about? What am I trying to achieve?

I’ll link to what I’ve already stated under ‘about this site’ … 

But several months of developing the site provides me with the opportunity to reflect a bit more on my original purpose and what I was trying to achieve. The site was effectively set up as a ‘suck it and see’ endeavour and I think it was truly a case of build it and see what happens. But I will emphasise in the presentation that the actual act of creating something like a visible and public website has knock-on effects on my understanding of the site and its objectives.

2. What should blog posts consist of?

This subject is well-catered for in other online fora/publications – I want here to focus on the range of blog posts I have already published on socialtheoryapplied. This range is also of interest to me as it looks different to what I imagined in my head prior to setup. Generally speaking, the posts can be divided into the following types:  

  • Debating posts: Posts that act like mini-papers or extended abstracts were the original focus of the site and are an important part of the current content – see for a good example Michael Gallagher’s post on Using Foucault in school research, where Michael argues for a more nuanced understanding of panopticism in schooling contexts.  
  • Announcement posts: These posts are fairly straightforward in that they deliver information on a forthcoming event – for example, the post about the University of Stirling Doctoral Summer School, or the one on blogging and the BERA conference.
  • Report posts: These are posts that describe/summarise the content of previously published/on-going research – for example, Irene Kleanthous’s post on her PhD research on parental influence
  • Review posts: I’ve done several of these types of post so far, and have focused to this point on publications I felt were strong and worth advertising to my readers – under the banner of Editor’s choice/Top of the class. See my post on Managing modernity for an example.
  • Progress posts: There will be more of these in the coming months, discussing the progress made by researchers in their work at whatever stage – a good example is that provided by Dave Talbot who talks about the challenges of using theory in his ongoing PhD on interdisciplinarity. 
  • Event posts: I’ve one set of these so far (well actually two – this is also an ‘event’ post) – see the set of related posts on The politics of regulation, which can be accessed under the ‘Specials’ page on the menu – these were posted prior to a seminar I gave earlier this year at the University of Glasgow.
  • Publication-linked posts: These can be divided into two types – those that are straightforward announcements of recent or forthcoming publications – see my New Publication: Social theory and education research, or the more reflective type that engage with my own publications – see How much should we be troubled by the past?   

3. Using academic blogs to make academic connections

In this part of the presentation I will focus on the different kinds of connections and networking opportunities provided by blogging – in particular I want to emphasise the connections that can be made between ‘traditional’ and digital academic outputs. I’ll also use the experience of editing my website to highlight other opportunities for making connections – with people as well as ideas. There is no harm whatsoever in being communicative AND strategic when deciding to undertake a blogging ‘career’, so long as bloggers think about ideas and presentation in a creative manner – ‘doing things differently’ is always a useful mantra!

I look forward to seeing everyone at Strathclyde on Wednesday – Mark Murphy


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About the author /


Mark Murphy is a Reader in Education and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow. He previously worked as an academic at King’s College, London, University of Chester, University of Stirling, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, University College Dublin and Northern Illinois University. Mark is an active researcher in the fields of education and public policy. His research interests include educational sociology, critical theory, accountability in higher education, and public sector reform.


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    Will you talk about analytic data from visitors to your site? Will you talk about identity: real and virtual?

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    Gordon Asher

    Hi Mark – not able to make Wed due to work commitments – but would value a chat on using blog within PhD

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    Mark Murphy

    Gordon I’ve emailed you separately. Kenneth – yes, that’s a good point about visitors. I really do need to get my head around google analytics! I’ve some idea of the spread of interest via FB and Twitter, but that’s about it. So if you’re reading this and I’ve no idea who you are, why not say hello! Mark

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