I was recently reminded of the fact that at some point my NIHR doctoral research fellowship funding will finish. I am just shy of being half way through my PhD – I have just over two years left and after that I’ll be done. That seems like a long time but really the first 22 months have flown by so I am sure the next 26 months will too. I started thinking about my NIHR application around 2 years before I commenced my studies. Per se I should probably be starting to consider my post PhD future around now.
I have a couple of friends who have just finished their NIHR fellowships. They have almost completed their PhDs (wow!) and are heading back to clinical roles. Their advice? Well they recommend seizing all the opportunities you have – going back to an old job can be tricky. But going back to an old job with new ideas, new skills and projects can enthuse, invigorate and rejuvenate you, your colleagues and your future research prospects. They have recommended I do this by seizing any opportunities offered on my PhD journey. On this journey there are many interesting and exciting opportunities – some rather scary and new. But their advice has been jump in.
The opportunities I have encountered have included networking with amazing people, speaking and presenting, attending conferences and training and blogging. There have been other opportunities too but I am going to focus on blogging for a second.
Now I do enjoy blogging. It took me a while but I’ve realised that my skills as a verbose speech and language therapist have translated quite well. And in fact have cascaded – creating new opportunities, spreading the word about my research and broadening my networks. This is a blog post I wrote for the NIHR:
For me blogging is about writing as though I am having a conversation. It’s a very different style when compared to any other academic writing activity. I feel it is much less rule bound than many other types of writing. And yet people have asked me about how to do it. So I have jotted down a couple of tips:
- To read a blog people need to stay hooked so write in a easy, accessible manner (by this I mean plain English, think about how you chat to your colleagues)
- Don’t write too much most people can’t be bothered to scroll very far down
- Apparently google is more likely to pick something up if there are more than 1,000 words in it- might be worth bearing in mind!
- Include an image at the start- this can be included in any tweets and people are more likely to click through or look at an image on twitter (just make sure the image is labelled for non-commercial reuse or it is your image).
- An image can summarise an idea in your blog and convey a key message (the old a picture can convey a thousand words theory)
- If you are writing a guest blog check out other guest blogs on their site- I wouldn’t necessarily recommend referencing in a blog post but some sites may like a reference or two
- It is important that you don’t give away the results of your research- these should be saved for peer reviewed publications- draw people in with other ideas or talk about processes. Tempt them and they may follow or look up your peer reviewed publications!
- Blog regularly – then people will follow you more reliably. People like a routine.
- Enjoy it! I quite like to think about what I will blog- it’s fun and you can chat about most things (carefully).
So seize the opportunity to expand your skills and happy blogging!