Wednesday exploration: 3 blogs you might enjoy exploring

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This week we are exploring three blogs I follow on a regular basis which may be of interest. Firstly an admission, it was only about a year ago that I discovered the wealth of information, inspiration and expertise that can be found in blogs. I know that the number of blogs produced can feel overwhelming but that is the fun of exploration – you can dip in, see what you find and decide whether or not to return.

 The analogy that comes to mind, for those of you who remember, is the pick and mix section of the now extinct Woolworth stores. I was brought up in rural Oxfordshire and so this treat was possible only when we made excursions into Banbury or Oxford. Memories of standing in front of the array of containers making your pick and, over time, getting to know your all time favourites. The decision about whether to go for your absolute favourite first or save it until last and every now and then the excitement of something new appearing to tempt you.

My approach to exploring blogs has been similar, to spend time just exploring, bookmarking or following the ones I enjoy but dipping into new ones as well. One of the things I love about Twitter is the way in which people tweet links to blogs they have found useful. This has been a great way of expanding my blog horizon. The blogs I have picked this week are quite different in their focus just because that’s fun.

 London School of Economics Impact Blog

The impact blog describes itself as, ‘a hub for researchers, administrative staff, librarians, students, think-tanks, government, and anyone else interested in maximizing the impact of academic work in the social sciences and other disciplines.’

 Whilst its primary focus is on the social sciences many of the posts and resources are of relevance to health researchers from other backgrounds. Alongside the posts other resources which may be of interest are the Essential How to Guides on topics such as

  • How to write a killer conference abstract: the first step towards an engaging presentation
  • Using Twitter as a data source: an overview of current social media research tools
  • How to write a peer review to improve scholarship: do unto others as you would wish them do unto you.

 You can also download from the site resources such as A short guide to using twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities and, The Handbook. Measuring the Impact of your research: a handbook for social scientists.

 The Thesis Whisperer

This blog is focused on helping research students undertaking a thesis, written by people with experience of doing a PhD or work with research students and edited by Dr Inger Mewburn. Recent posts include:

  • A journal article by any other name – exploring the importance of thinking about the title of a paper or chapter.
  • Dr Daddy and the Double Act – the challenges of combining research and fatherhood.

Posts are  organised by topic which is really helpful and topics include: you and your supervisor; on writing; presenting; your career; getting things done.

 Alongside the posts are links to a wide range of resources for students and supervisors which are well worth exploring as is the overview of how to set up a Shut up and Write group.

 Brain Pickings

This blog couldn’t be more different from the two above and I’m really grateful to Kandy Woodfield (@jess1ecat) for sharing this blog via twitter otherwise I’m not sure I would have found it. It is written by Maria Popova who describes herself as, a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large.

The ethos behind the blog resonates strongly with the focus on cross-disciplinary working and thinking to informs current agendas in health research and innovation.

‘in order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new ideas.’   Maria Popova

This is what I love about this blog – it takes my thinking out of the world of health research and stretches it to connect with views and perspectives from different disciplines including art, design, philosophy science and psychology.

To give you an insight into posts the current post provides a synopsis of “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The post is interspersed with links to previous posts of relevance and ends with links to posts which complement the topic. In this instance a synopsis of Anne Lamott’s book Small Victories. Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace; Gratitude, written by Oliver Sack and published posthumously; seven books written for children to help them make sense of death and bereavement.

Alongside the posts you can subscribe also to a weekly digest which arrives on a Sunday morning in time for a relaxing read.

 An incredibly subjective selection I know but if you follow a blog or write one which you feel would be of interest to health researchers why not share it. I would love to know.

 As for the Woolworths pick and mix, if they were bookmarkable I would bookmark the chocolate orange cream and the purple wrappered hazelnut and caramel.

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