Since I’m such a novice to the universe of research blogging, I’ve just spent some time trying to find inspirational examples. What I discovered: it’s a morass. I wandered about following other people’s blogrolls for a while, stared despondently at the thicket of titles on an academic blogs portal, and then picked a few to view at random. Most of those I stumbled upon contained what was to me disappointingly newsy things: ‘I’m off to do this today’, ‘oh, I’ve just been to this conference’, and so on.
My idea for this blog is that it will be less diaristic in tone and purpose, and styled instead as a series of sketches to give shape to my research. I want to be able to go back to the archived entires for a particular month, for example, and to find there a record of the bright things that grabbed me in my reading at the time. Or to be able to choose the category on medicine shows, say, and turn up various prompts to the sources and my immediate thoughts about them. And I also want to feel my way into the project through the process of quotidian reflection about it, recorded on something more permanent than the backs of envelopes or scrap-paper I otherwise accumulate.
Here is Sharon Howard, an early modern historian, with sage commentary on the value of her own research blogging:
‘Blogging research lets you develop the very first drafts of ideas. Bits and pieces that don’t yet amount to articles (or even conference papers), but they may well do some day. And something else, sometimes: last year I was having trouble thinking up any new ideas at all, but blogging old ideas, often attached to new sources, meant that I kept writing, if only a few hundred words a week, without having to worry about it being original or impressive. And now, because it’s all archived and easy to find, I can look back over some of that work and see potential themes, little seeds of ideas that are worth working on, start to make them grow’.