IHAWKES is two!! In June the IHAWKES blog celebrated its second birthday. Since there were a few other important events holding our attention last month, we decided to postpone this special birthday edition until now. We are thrilled to be still going strong after two years. In this time, we have published nearly 70 posts and had over 13,000 views on our website. In addition to posts from our regular bloggers we have had numerous guest posts from academics both within IHW and further afield. We have also recently expanded to include early career researchers as well as postgraduates. To mark two years of IHAWKES, we’ve been asking our regular contributors how blogging has benefitted them. If you feel similarly inspired, please do get in touch!!
As editor of the blog, being involved with IHAWKES has given me a fantastic opportunity to hone both my writing and editing skills. Thinking about the best ways to distil my thoughts into coherent, 700 word blogs has been challenging, but an excellent training in forcing me to focus on what the most important messages are that I want to impart. IHAWKES has also provided me a space to address and reflect on thorny issues in my PhD research and engage with others who have had similar experiences. Most of all, being involved with IHAWKES has been great fun. It has allowed me to get to know PhDs and ECRs from across IHW whom I might not have met otherwise, and many have now become good friends!
I would encourage readers across the Institute to consider blogging! Don’t worry if you are a complete novice. We have a great set of contributors ready to give a helping hand! Some of the many benefits that blogging brought me are:
- The opportunity to develop my writing style as I am constantly proof-reading my work
- Increased confidence in discussing my research with others on social media
- A broader skill-set as a researcher in engaging a with wider audiences
- The opportunity to showcase novel works and activities that positively impact my research
- Channels through which other professionals have contacted me directly. This has helped me to build my professional network
I have now created my own VLOG channel documenting my experience as an academic and Visiting Scholar to McGill University in Montreal Canada. Watch out for exciting videos coming soon! J
A PhD is a complex, multifaceted process, but is ultimately judged on a piece of writing. Writing is, therefore, one of the key skills that you need to develop during a PhD. Being involved in the IHAWKES blog has helped me with my writing in a number of ways. It has been a prompt to writing, I have learned a lot from fellow bloggers, and it has brought home to me how important it is to consider your audience and adapt your writing accordingly. But most of all, it has been a lot of fun!
Blogging in academia is a relatively new phenomenon and having the opportunity to do it at postgraduate level, through IHAWKES, is a great experience. It is a simple and effective way to get your ideas and research across. Writing a blog can also help you network with other students and researchers especially as they are often picked up and shared through numerous social media platforms. Most importantly for me, blogs are open access and available for anyone to read and are written in simple and easy to understand language. This means they can reach lay audiences, especially health professionals, patients and policy makers, who may not be able to access traditional academic material.
More than 804,000 people die by suicide around the world each year, and because of that, I will talk to anyone who will stand still long enough about suicide research. The IHAWKES blog has been a completely invaluable platform for getting ideas out there into the world, and starting conversations about mental health and the experience of researching suicide. I like the interactive nature of blogging; people will often get in touch via social media to share their thoughts on my blog posts and share their own experiences.
The experience of writing regularly for IHAWKES was incredibly helpful when I came to write my thesis, as I was used to writing 700 word chunks of content with a short turnaround time. What’s more, the nature of blogging demands that you explain your ideas clearly and with brevity, so it is great practice for writing abstracts or just for practicing breaking down complex ideas into bite-size pieces that are comprehensible to those who don’t know all the jargon.
Blogging for IHAWKES has directly led to me being offered opportunities to do more public engagement activities, including writing for the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s blog, speaking at the Pint of Science festival and being a panelist for a Sense About Science media workshop. It has also allowed me to connect with other like-minded individuals who share my research interests.
From a career perspective, blogging showcases your writing and your ability go explain things clearly. Above all, it gives your passion for what you do a chance to really shine through; something that may not be possible within the confines of more traditional academic writing, i.e. journal articles.
Blogging is a very exciting activity, although quite challenging for me. Communicating my research in a non-academic manner has been very stimulating, has provided me with a space for self-reflection, and has also acted an important vehicle for contributing to suicide prevention. It is very important to me to be actively engaged in my field, especially in terms of helping those who have lost someone through suicide and/or have suffered from suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Writing for IHAWKES is a great way of creating a dialogue with the general population on what researchers have been finding, and sharing ideas on how this knowledge may contribute to make life better. On the academic side, blogging has giving to me the opportunity to improve my writing skills, develop the consistency and cohesion of my ideas, and increase the clarity of my communication. It has been a fascinating learning process!