Heap, Tania and Minocha, Shailey
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Our research project investigates the experience of academics (i.e. educators working in higher education) and researchers using blogs in their work. The three objectives are: 1) to identify reasons why academics and researchers begin writing and maintain a blog as part of their practice, 2) the contribution of blogging to the academics' and researchers' personal and professional development and 3) the challenges they experience. One component of the research involves conducting individual open-ended interviews by email with academic/research bloggers. The interviews are analysed using descriptive phenomenology, to gain an understanding of both the idiosyncratic aspects and the general essence of the bloggers' experiences. Findings reveal that bloggers think of others through their blog: beginners feel encouraged to blog by following advice from others or examples of experienced bloggers; the more experienced consider blogging an opportunity to disseminate and exchange information with others. Therefore, blogging does not mediate relationships only between bloggers and readers, but also with people outside the readership but still connected to the blog. For some academics and researchers, blogging is an 'experiment' to think through ideas and find a voice in the public arena. This form of experimentation and exploration fosters both personal reflection and social interaction. However, public experimentation triggers feelings of anxiety and uncertainty amongst some academics/researchers. This seems due to the unfamiliar way in which blogs occupy an intermediate space among established writing forms (i.e. academic papers, journalistic articles, diaries), thereby blurring the private-public and formal-informal divide.
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