The First Post Post

So, the world is currently full of difficult problems. Glaciers are calving, species going extinct, refugees are in distress, a woman’s dollar is still 78 cents, all the good characters in Game of Thrones keep dying, and what’s the deal with Trump’s hair anyway? These problems are all equally real (though some may be more important than others), but what’s the one, surefire way, to deal with them all? Duh. Another blog obviously. Never too  many of those around, that’s what the world needs right now. Another research blog no less.

A few quick words about myself before we actually begin: I’m a grant researcher and PhD student at the University of Vaasa, Finland. I’m currently in the process of writing my dissertation that focuses on the relationships male adventure athletes have to nature. My research combines literary and cultural studies methods with ethnographic methods, drawing on my personal insider knowledge and status within the adventure and extreme sports field, and I hope to expand on this research in the post-dissertation future by studying various other texts, phenomena and (sub)cultures that may be perceived, in one way or another, to be ‘extreme’. I am also a husband, father, and mountain athlete. In other words,  a life juggler.

OK then, what is a “research blog” anyway? Well, they have actually been around for a while now. Already in 2008, Wakeford and Cohen listed different types of research blogs, as well as many different types of uses for them. Research blogs can range from very formal to quite informal and, according to Wakeford and Cohen, they can be used to, e.g. “create a community” (307), “emphasise and expose the process of doing research” (308), make research more democratic and non-hierarchical (309), to introduce research to research participants (313), force the researcher to consider “their relationship to themselves and [..] to their research”, and post findings or results in the midst of the research, thus “inviting response from readers” (320).

Shema et al. (2012) also listed various motivations for research blogging. These may include, but are not limited to: simple content sharing, improving one’s writing, organizing one’s thought processes, interacting with others and creating communities, increasing the researcher’s creativity, and creating an internet presence.

Research blogs can also focus on popularizing contemporary research by introducing important but possibly complicated and highly specialized research findings in an easily digestible way. Good examples of these can be found, e.g. at researchblogging.org.

So, why do I blog? I got the initial inspiration while listening to Doctor Maria Kuteeva from Stockholm University give a plenary talk at the 7th biennial FINSSE conference  in October, 2015. Her talk was titled “Academic communication in a digital age: blogs, wikis, and tweets in the research world”. For one reason or another I hadn’t seriously contemplated the possibility before, but listening to the talk the proverbial lightbulb-over-head-moment happened, and I decided to set up a blog myself.

Credit: www.treehugger.com

I’m also very grateful for her encouragement when discussing the then very fresh idea with her after the talk.

The main goals of this research blog are:

  1. To introduce my own work and increase the transparency of scholarly work.
  2. To spread interesting research by introducing the work of others in the field.
  3. To potentially help in generating data for my own research in the future. The thinking behind this is very much a work in process but it is something I’m interested in, and hope to do.
  4. To bring some structure to my work by introducing a new weekly blogging routine, and through that self-applied pressure maybe feel more accountable and therefore both make progress and report on it.
  5. Have fun by trying something new. I’m aware that after a while of doing this, “fun” may become a relative term. In that case, it’s probably best to use it in the sense that alpinist Kelly Cordes did in describing the sliding fun scale.

Anyway, the plan is to post new stuff here roughly on a weekly basis, and to keep going as long as I can, hopefully at least until I finish my dissertation. The posts will contain updates on the progress of my dissertation, thoughts on interesting contemporary phenomena related to my research, and reviews on interesting research by others. The style will be fairly informal for the most part, but exceptions to this may happen occasionally if and when the situation warrants. Follow along via WordPress, or subscribe to new posts via email, using the icon on the right. Comment, and feel free to spread the word. Welcome along for the ride!

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References

Shema, Hadas, Judit Bar-Ilan, and Mike Thelwall (2012). “Research Blogs and the Discussion of Scholarly Information.” Available at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0035869

Wakeford, Nina and Kris Cohen (2008). “Fieldnotes in Public: Using Blogs for Research.” In The Sage Handbook of Online Research Methods. Eds. Nigel Fielding, Raymond M. Lee and Grant Blank. London, Sage. 307–326.

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