#Building #Energy #Ocean

Why I <3 blog

This blog post is aimed at researchers who are wondering whether they should start blogging, and at research managers and communications staff who aren’t sure whether blogging is a good use of Resources.

#SINTEFblog for 2,000 researchers

You are now on #SINTEFblog. Three weeks ago it was called #SINTEFenergy, and was a blog aimed at the roughly 250 employees at SINTEF Energy Research and their partners. The blog will now soon be available to all of SINTEF’s 2,000 researchers. First up will be SINTEF Ocean and SINTEF Building and Infrastructure, followed by the rest of the SINTEF organisation in the autumn.

I am still blog editor and have high hopes that #SINTEFblog will be a great success. In this blog post I would like to say something about how and why this will happen.

Facts first

Before we changed its name, the blog had received more than

  • 100,000 visits in the space of two and a half years.
  • More than 400 posts have been published.
  • More than half of all research scientists at SINTEF Energy Research have contributed a post.

It is this last point that I am most proud of, and I will come back to the reasons later.

I was naive

Before I arrived at SINTEF Energy Research, I was working as a Communications Manager at the Faculty of Medicine at NTNU. The faculty has many highly competent researchers in the fields of neuroscience, diabetes, obesity, child mental health, cancer and more. Research is being carried out in areas that affect us all – either directly, or as next of kin.

When we launched the #NTNUmedicine blog, our aim was to share this research with the general public, and it worked like a charm.

When I started as Communications Director at SINTEF Energy Research almost three years ago, I thought that everyone was bound to be interested in secure and sustainable energy supplies, and that a blog would be a big hit with the public. How naive I was!

Not interested in ferrofluids? You should be! (Photo: Shutterstock)

Found on google

Of course, people are interested in energy. But that doesn’t mean that everyone thinks it’s exciting to read about ferrofluids or Direct Electrical Heating (DEH). Nor does it mean that these topics are less important or uninteresting. In fact, to many people, and not least our clients, these are enormously interesting fields. Our two blogs about ferrofluids and DEH are very popular, and continue to be visited regularly, even though they were posted some time ago.

However, they’re being read mainly by people who find them by googling. That is, people who have a greater than average interest in these fields. If we didn’t have blogs (or websites) about these topics, then these readers would never have found out that SINTEF carries out research in these fields, and would end up somewhere else on the internet.

This is why I think it’s smart to blog about everything we can, even if the field is “narrow”. In this way the world – and new clients – out there can find us.

I am not that into blogging

Yes, I admit that I wrote that I love blogging. But I really don’t think the blog on its’ own is all that important. What is important are the different stories being posted on the blog. If the blog wasn’t there, many of these stories would never see the light of day. It satisfies a previously unmet need.

The aim of those of us working in communications is to make SINTEF visible. Traditionally, part of our job is about contacting the media with snippets of news.

However, the traditional media channels are often not all that interested either in research methods or processes. They’re after the end result, which can take many years to come to light. There are countless important and interesting stories to tell on the way to getting the result, and we can do this using a blog.

The diagram above shows the various blog post target groups. If our target group is “the general public”, we have other channels that are more effective than the blog, such as our popular science magazine Gemini or the newspaper VG.

Research-based facts versus fake news

Everyone is talking about “fake news” and how politicians misrepresent research data.

The world needs research-based facts and for the results to be used to promote a better society. For these reasons, it’s important that research results are disseminated widely and transparently, and that they’re easily available on the internet.

#SINTEFblog provides us with an influential forum where we can share our research results with the entire world. We’re already very visible online, but we can boost this exposure with every lively and interesting technical blog we post.

In fact, I believe that there aren’t too many blogs out there with the same potential as #SINTEFblog, with its access to 2,000 bloggers, and this is why I’m sure that the blog will be a success. Not necessarily overnight, but gradually as we work to develop it in the years ahead.

Why so proud?

In my introduction I wrote that I was proud that more than half of the researchers at SINTEF Energy Research had contributed to the blog. I’m proud of this because without the blog many of the stories they tell and the results they achieve would never have been shared outside the covers of scientific journals or conference auditoria. The blog lowers the threshold for sharing results, because it isn’t especially daunting or time consuming.

Researchers who have blogged once often come back to post more. For this reason, perhaps the title of this blog post should be “Why researchers <3 blog”? I’ll be blogging about this later.

Do you believe in blogging about your research? If you have any views on this, or any questions, enter these in the comments field.

And if you want to blog yourself, get in touch here.