I added several blog posts to my academic CV recently to acknowledge information is being propagated in important ways in online forums and social media. The citations* are lurking behind a book chapter and letters, sure to go un-noted or to be dismissed. And I understand that reaction.

Two years ago, we were in the midst of an overhaul of EdgeforScholars.org and looking forward to providing a platform to share information and candid conversation about life in academics. I was conflicted about recruiting authors for content. Our group was confident it would have value. But I harbored a level of uncertainty about whether blogging was a wise use of faculty talent, especially early career faculty, and was sure social media writ large harbored the risk of being a dangerous time drain.

Then I jumped into a forum away from work. My first experience blogging was on a non-academic site to share things I knew about health and fitness for a local gym. At first the direction of information was pretty much a one-way street. Then the tables turned and an active discussion group emerged. And I was hooked.

That experience of new connections, new opinions, and new information convinced me of the potential rewards. Now when asked why I blog and tweet for Edge for Scholars, the answer is reciprocity. Others share ideas that I value in many forums and I hope to pay it forward to fellow travelers in research.

Events like these keep our team at it:

  • Scholars in a K12 career development program read a tweet about how to start a “shut up and write” group and promptly form a new group.
  • A faculty member at a small university writes to thank EFS for posting changes in rules about appendices in NIH grants because her grant support person was not aware.
  • A Purdue undergraduate is excited to share a link to the Purdue Owl writing resources and to find we tweet it in the Writing Round Up twitter stream.
  • My research team learns about free infographic tools in a social media conversation and knocks out a reasonable attempt that extends the reach of what we hope is an important policy idea.
  • A passionate faculty member creates an online fund raising event that supports STEM projects in 17 low-resource public schools.
  • Grant writing tips that could be held close as “local resources” circulate around the country, and more universities are poised to join in the sharing.
  • An individual sends thanks that Edge for Scholars announced NIH loan repayment or a leadership training opportunity and shares that they put in an application.
  • Advocacy, policy, and opinion content flourishes.

For these reasons and more, I aim to contribute useful information. But I blog because I always get back more. I hope you’ll join us on the adventure.


*Sample citation:

Hartmann, Katherine. “How to be Heard by Legislators about NIH Budget Cuts,” Edge for Scholars (blog), March 3, 2017. https://edgeforscholars.org/how-to-be-heard-by-legislators-about-proposed-nih-budget-cuts/. [668 views, accessed January 2, 2019]

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