This blog is 13 – Spotlight on McCarthy and Boger’s “The open academic” paper

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I published my first blog post, on this blog, thirteen years ago (January 6th, 2010, to be precise). Since then, I have been looking at public life through the lens of digital marketing, information systems and science & technology studies. I have also been writing about what I read and the work that I do. And, on the anniversary the blog, I have been sharing advice for academics and researchers considering giving blogging a go. The anniversary blog posts are my attempt at encouraging others to try this activity which I find very rewarding, while also helping them / you avoid some of the mistakes that I have made over the years.

In 2018, I reflected on the differences and similarities between my first and my latest (at the time) posts. In 2019, I listed six reasons to blog as an academic. In 2020, I shared some thoughts on where and what to blog. Then, in 2021, I flagged what researchers and academics should not do, when they are blogging in professional role. And, last year, I focused on thinking through the characteristics of different social media platforms, when choosing how best to get our message out there

This year, rather than focusing on my own experience, I want to give a shout-out to a paper co-authored by Ian P. MCarthy and Marcel Bogers. The paper was published in Business Horizons and its title is “The open academic: Why and how business academics should use social media to be more ‘open’ and impactful”. 

While McCarthy and Bogers’ paper is about social media in general, not just blogs, I feel that it has some really good advice for academics interested in making their research more relevant and useful to society. 

McCarthy and Bogers start by discussing why it is important for business academics to be open about their research process and outcomes. Subsequently, they discuss various examples of using social media to support networking, the framing of research questions, the actual design and collection of data, the sharing of research findings, and, finally, the evaluation of the impact of the research:

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Personal blogs, like the one you are reading, are a key part of the process depicted in Figure 1. Personal blogs are the only platform where you have full control of the message, choosing not only what you say but also how, and how often to update it. Moreover, you can test different styles, and get feedback on what is working or not via analytics.

Given how good of a research communicator McCarthy is, it is no surprise to see the open academic paper proposing lots of great ideas for how to share research findings:

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I have used – and enthusiastically support – most of ideas proposed in table 2 above regarding dissemination; but while I had a go with short explainer videos, I didn’t really try animation options like PowToon. That’s a good idea, that I want to spend some time exploring how to make my own animated videos for research communication: I feel that animations may have a longer shelf life (and be less cringy to film) than talking heads; and are more interesting than talking over a slide deck. 

McCarthy and Bogers also suggest “hosting online debates about research. For example, the Ask Me Anything (AMA) forums on Reddit allow anyone to host a question-and-answer session. Academics who act as AMA hosts to discuss their work have found these forums highly effective for open-dialogue-based public engagement”. I have never participated in AMAs, but I have done a few LinkedIn live sessions and webinars, and I can attest to the benefits of interactive discussions with practitioners.

I hope you feel inspired to try blogging to share your work. This simple guide that I wrote to help academics manage their online presence (including blogging) usually gets a lot of hits and very good feedback. If you need any advice or encouragement, do reach out. I will follow your blog, cheer you on and learn a lot in the process.

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