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40 Must-read academic blogs for researchers and PhD students

Andrea Hayward | Apr 27, 2018 | 17,207 views
Top 40 Academic blogs every PhD student and researcher should read

I am a scicomm junkie! I love scouring the Internet for instances of researchers and other professionals within science and academia engaging in online science communication and outreach. Not to mention picking up and following the buzz around various trending social media conversations initiated by these individuals! Of all the existing forms of online engagement, academic blogs are at the top of my list of sources to learn more about what researchers really feel about the scholarly publishing industry. Blogs offer a great way to pick up chatter about what’s brewing in scholarly publishing and what researchers think about specific aspects of academia.

Today, researchers blog to talk about their research interests, their own publications, advances and innovations within their academic disciplines, and personal views about various aspects of the scholarly publishing industry. They also use blogging platforms to share experiences and anecdotes from across their academic careers as well as some of the challenges they faced along the way and how they scaled them. Several blogs are also dedicated to providing tips and guidance to fellow researchers and PhD students as they embark on their own academic journey.

In this post, I’d like to share 40 popular blogs by academics. Each listing gives you a brief idea of what you will find in the blog. Aside from being avid bloggers, these academics also have a prominent Twitter presence. For this reason, I’ve also included one of their tweets at the end of each listing. I hope you like this list and find an academic blog that you really enjoy reading!

1. Academics Write (@academicswrite):

As the name suggests, Academics Write is a blog about “academic writing in all disciplines.” Blog owner, Kim Mitchell is from a nursing discipline and is an Instructor at Red River College, Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada. Academics Write hosts an interesting mix of blog posts that includes research-based information, experience-based stories and anecdotes, and opinion pieces. Writing for an audience of post-secondary instructors, academic writers, and students, Kim blogs about topics such as the value of writing, self-efficacy, myths about academic writing, and deciding when it is right to grant a student an extension.


2. Athene Donald's Blog (@AtheneDonald):

Athene Donald is a Physics Professor at the University of Cambridge, and has been a professor for over 20 years. Unlike some of the other blogs in this list that have adopted a coaching-oriented approach, Professor Donald’s blog seems to offer researchers’ opinions and perspectives. Her blog posts cover topics such as what to do and avoid doing at academic conferences, gender disparity in academia, etc. She also attempts to maintain a balance by sharing a few blog posts about her personal life and interests. 


3. Belcher Writing Advice (@WendyLBelcher):

Belcher Writing Advice is a blog that covers two broad topics--writing advice for academics, and research and teaching about Africa. It is managed by Wendy Laura Belcher, Associate Professor of African Literature at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of African American Studies. With respect to academic writing, Belcher Writing Advice covers topics such as writing a journal article, writing a book review, how to read journals, and how to manage a peer-reviewed journal. The blog also offers a rich archive of reading material for readers who share Wendy’s research interests, i.e., African literature.


4. Beyond the Doctorate (@FionaEWhelan):

Beyond the Doctorate is a blog managed by Dr. Fiona Whelan, Academic Standards and Quality Officer at Queen Mary University of London. Dr. Whelan’s blog goes beyond discussions about her academic career. She started this blog with the intention of sharing her experiences with other doctoral students as she made “a transition away from pure research into a practical, real-world job.” She blogs about topics such as the challenges of post-doctoral research life and advises students about dealing with different stages of academic life, exploring alternative academic careers, etc.


5. Dan Cohen (@dancohen):

Dr. Dan Cohen is a Vice Provost, Dean, and Professor at Northeastern University. He blogs about topics such as current trends in library and information science, digital libraries, ebooks, the influence of digital technology on various aspects of life today, web cultures, digital humanities, digital public libraries, science communication trends, and science publishing. In an interesting post, Dr. Cohen talks about a concept that he has called “blessay.” According to him, the blessay is “a manifestation of the convergence of journalism and scholarship in mid-length forms online.” He further explains that a blessay avoids academic jargon as it is written for “both specialists and an intelligent general audience.”


6Diary of Dr. Logic (@SaraLUckelman):

Diary of Dr. Logic is a blog managed by Sara L. Uckelman, Assistant Professor at Durham University. Diary of Dr. Logic offers blog posts on several topics related to scholarly publishing and life as an academic. More specifically, Professor Uckelman blogs about her approach to teaching logic and philosophy, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, tips on being productive, and more.


7DoctoralWritingSIG (@DocwritingSIG):

DoctoralWritingSIG is moderated by Dr. Claire Aitchison, Doctoral Writing Consultant; Dr. Cally Guerin, Research Training Scheme Officer, University of Adelaide; and Dr. Susan Carter, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland. DoctoralWritingSIG is an informative forum where those interested in doctoral writing can “share information, resources, ideas, and dreams,” irrespective of where they stand in their academic careers. With a view to build a base of knowledge and skills around research writing, the blog covers topics such as grant writing, tips on writing the different sections of a thesis or dissertation, grammar advice, and academic publishing guidance.


8Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega, PhD (@raulpacheco):

Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega is an Assistant Professor in the Public Administration Division of the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching. His blog is populated with insightful articles on various aspects of academic life such as academic writing, reading strategies, and surviving and thriving in academia. He also features posts about his own research and public policy issues that interest him. Offering interesting text interspersed with relevant images and tweets, Dr. Pacheco-Vega’s blog posts make for a very engaging reading experience.


9Dr. Catherine Pope (@catherinepope):

Dr. Catherine Pope is a freelance research and writing skills trainer. She blogs about academic writing; focusing on topics like overcoming procrastination, implementing planning techniques before writing, etc. Her blog also offers posts dedicated to helping readers learn about tools for researchers that could enhance their productivity. Dr. Pope maintains separate categories for blog posts that provide tips on using Evernote and Zotero. Both of these are digital tools designed to facilitate various aspects of the conducting research and writing research papers.


10Dr. Nadine Muller (@Nadine_Muller):

Dr. Nadine Muller is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University. Her blog is about academia and her experiences within academia. Amongst other things, she says that her blog is about “redefining what it takes to be an academic and how academics are expected to present themselves, their lives, and their work.” Dr. Muller aims to provide support, training, and development resources for postgraduate and early career researchers. She blogs about topics such as preparing for an academic job interview, prioritizing during doctoral studies, and the mental health of professionals within academia.


11. Ellie Mackin (@EllieMackin):

Dr. Ellie Mackin Roberts is a Teaching Fellow in Ancient History at the University of Leicester and a Research Associate at the Institute of Classical Studies, London. She is also one of the moderators of @ECRchatthe Twitter feed for early career researchers. Her blog consists of a rich reserve of posts that cover a wide array of topics pertaining to academic life. She blogs about academic writing, post-PhD life, academic conferences, job applications, and many other interesting topics.


12. Explorations of Style (@explorstyle):

Explorations of Style is a blog that “offers an ongoing discussion of the challenges of academic writing.”  The blog is managed by Rachael Cayley, Associate Professor in the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication, University of Toronto. Professor Cayley aims to provide her readers with strategies to help them improve their research writing skills. For this purpose, she blogs about topics such as dealing with writing anxiety, creating reverse outlines, and the writing process.


13. Feral Librarian (@mchris4duke):

Feral Librarian is a blog managed by Dr. Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Bourg blogs about research libraries, higher education, and scholarly publishing. Occasionally, her blog posts also discuss some of her personal interests – sports, music, and social justice issues. Among the blog's most recent posts is a text version of Dr. Bourg’s interesting keynote talk at the 2018 Creative Commons Global Summit – “Open as in dangerous.”


14. From PhD to Life (@FromPhDtoLife):

From PhD to Life is a blog run by Dr. Jennifer Polk, History PhD turned academic, life, and career coach for graduate students and PhDs. Summing it up herself, Dr. Polk says that she helps “PhDs launch meaningful careers” by helping them dive deeper into their own interests, explore their options, and deal with academic pressure. From PhD to Life offers a wide range of resources for PhDs, all of which are aimed at helping them maneuver their academic careers smoothly and live a better life. Dr. Polk recommends her Transition Q&A series as a must-read section! This section showcases inspiring stories of PhDs as they take us through their fulfilling post-PhD journeys.


15. From The Lab Bench (@FromTheLabBench):

From The Lab Bench is a blog about “all things science.” It is managed by Dr. Paige Brown Jarreau, Science Communication Specialist for the College of Science, Louisiana State University. While pursuing her doctoral degree, Dr. Jarreau realized that although she enjoyed time spent at the lab bench, she loved writing and communicating about her research even more! And that’s how “From The Lab Bench” was born. Dr. Jarreau blogs about topics such as science blogging, social media advice, and science journalism.


16. Get a Life, PhD (@tanyaboza):

Get a Life, PhD is a blog managed by Tanya Golash-Boza, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Merced. The core theme of her blog is succeeding in academia while simultaneously leading a rich life outside of academia as well. In this blog, she shares advice that will help readers “balance life and work and attain a happier life on the tenure track.” Get a Life, PhD offers a host of informative blogposts on academic writing and publishing. Professor Golash-Boza blogs about topics such as writing a literature review, tips for responding to a revise and resubmit decision from a journal and presenting at academic conferences. She also writes about academics’ work-life balance, how academics can find time to exercise, making the most of academic travel, and being an academic parent. 

Check out Professor Golash-Boza’s guest article on Editage Insights - How to respond to a "revise and resubmit" decision from a journal: 10 Steps to a successful revision


17. Green Tea and Velociraptors (@Protohedgehog):

Green Tea and Velociraptors is a blog managed by Dr. Jon Tennant, Founder, Open Science MOOC. The blog’s intriguing name is brought to life by its fascinating theme and imagery—it’s not every day that you see a dinosaur wearing a top hat at a fancy tea party! Green Tea and Velociraptors offers you a wide range of interesting topics to choose from. Dr. Tennant blogs about his learnings as a PhD student, his research interests, and other topics relevant to academic life such as peer review and open science and science communication. The blog also features a section that includes all of this own research publications.


18. Helen Kara (@DrHelenKara):

Dr. Helen Kara is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Visiting Fellow at the UK’s National Centre for Research Methods. She has been an independent researcher since 1999 and instructs researchers and students on research methods. Dr. Kara blogs about research methods, academic writing and publishing, research ethics, research collaboration, etc.


19. James Hayton, Phd (@jameshaytonphd):

Former physicist Dr. James Hayton works with PhD students to help them through the PhD research and writing process. He aims to make the lives of PhD students a little easier as they set out on their journey towards their PhDs. His main focus is helping them develop the skills necessary for doing a PhD. In light of this, his blog offers a rich reserve of blogposts covering topics such as academic writing, PhD survival, choosing a topic for your thesis, and dealing with PhD failures.  


20. Jo Van Every (@JoVanEvery ):

Dr. Jo Van Every is an academic career guide who loves “helping others love their academic work.” Her blog offers advice on academic writing; more specifically, it aims to help you develop effective writing skills. She also blogs about publishing for scholarly and non-scholarly audiences and decision-making throughout the academic journey, dealing with procrastination, the need to maintain work-life balance, and peer review, amongst many others.  


21. Learning Scientists (@AceThatTest):

Learning Scientists was co-founded by cognitive psychologists Dr. Megan A. Sumeracki and Dr. Yana Weinstein. They started the blog with a major focus on the science of learning. Learning Scientists publishes blogposts for researchers, teaching professionals, and students to “make scientific research on learning more accessible.” It covers topics such as effective learning and note-taking strategies, creating study plans, and heuristics, amongst others. The blog is an engrossing read for anyone fascinated by human cognition and cognitive psychology, regardless of their own research interests.


22. Making Physics Fun (@jesswade): 

Making Physics Fun is a blog managed by Dr. Jess Wade, a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London. Making Physics Fun offers resources on a wide range of topics such as grants and funding opportunities, science presentations and reporting, as well as links to resources on physics and chemistry. Dr. Wade also loves to doodle and her blog showcases a number of vibrant, fascinating doodles, each of which depicts various aspects of a single topic such as science careers, tips for scientists speaking to journalists, imposter syndrome, etc.


23. Nick Hopwood (@NHopUTS):

Nick Hopwood is an Associate Professor at the University of Technology Sydney. He blogs about a host of topics related to “doctoral research and supervision, early career academic experiences, social science research methodology, academic work and publishing,” and whatever else catches his interest. His blog posts - which include a mix of blogs, videos, and podcasts - are well-organized and archived under categories such as being a doctoral student, academic work and careers, conference presentations, and academic writing. In addition, Nick has an interesting, unconventional take on academic rejection that gained more than 1,000 retweets on Twitter!


24. patter (@ThomsonPat):

Patter is a blog managed by Pat Thomson, Professor of Education in the School of Education, University of Nottingham. Mainly catering to PhD students and early career researchers, Professor Thomson blogs about topics such as academic writing, research education, conferences, and funding. She delves into the tiniest of details when it comes to academic writing, sharing her insights on writing a research question, citations and references, using images in your research paper, finding relevant publications within your field for a good literature review, etc. Although her blog covers of a variety of subjects pertaining to academic life fairly comprehensively, she also welcomes guest contributions. 


25. PhD Talk (@evalantsoght):

PhD Talk is a blog managed by Dr Eva Lantsoght, Researcher at Delft University of Technology. PhD Talk publishes blog posts on the “process of doing a PhD, the non-scientific skills you need during your PhD,” and Dr. Lantsoght’s experiences living abroad and travelling. She also blogs about her current research interest, structural concrete. Her blog posts cover research and academic writing tips, as well as other topics such as presenting at academic conferences, life as a PhD, being productive, and managing time effectively. Dr. Lantsoght also encourages submissions from guest contributors, with a special invitation to those wanting to take a whack at academic blogging before starting a website of their own.


26. PLOS ECR Community (@PLOSECR):

As described on the PLOS website, PLOS ECR Community is a forum for the next generation of scientists and science writers. The blog aims to provide an “outlet for promising writers who are currently studying a science discipline at the undergrad, graduate or post-doctoral levels.” Managed by PLOS Social Media Associate, Sara Kassabian, all blog posts are contributed by a community of undergrads, graduate students, and post-docs hailing from various academic disciplines. So in addition to providing insightful tips, each post also entails an interesting real-life experience of the contributing ECR. PLOS ECR Community covers topics such as surviving academic conferences as a PhD student, organizing papers references, and the pros and cons of blogging as an ECR.


27. Reciprocal Space (@Stephen_Curry):

Reciprocal Space is a blog managed by Stephen Curry, Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College, London. Through this blog, he aims to share “what it’s like to work in science in the UK in the 21st Century, to explore the larger social and political responsibilities of being a scientist” as well as his own musings on other topics that may not be directly related to science. Professor Curry’s blog posts cover topics ranging from academic publishing and peer review to open access, life in science, and his own experiences and learnings from attending academic conferences.


28. Scientist Sees Squirrel (@StephenBHeard):

Scientist Sees Squirrel is a blog managed by Dr. Stephen Heard, an evolutionary ecologist and entomologist at the University of New Brunswick and the author of the book “The Scientists’ Guide to Writing.” Dr. Heard and his associates seek to understand “how ecological interactions and environmental contexts have influenced the assembly and evolution of ecological communities.” He blogs about aspects of academic writing and publishing such as writing an effective methods section, handling peer review, journal rejection, etc.    


29. Shut Up & Write Tuesdays (@SUWTues):

Shut Up & Write Tuesdays is a “virtual writing workshop for academic folk.” Regardless of the kind of academic literature you are writing – thesis chapter, journal article, conference abstract, or something else – their basic aim is to “help you set aside dedicated writing time and make progress.” Dr. Siobhan O’Dwyer, Senior Lecturer in Ageing and Family Care, University of Exeter, is the founder and coordinator of Shut Up & Write Tuesdays. She is joined by multiple hosts who organize three virtual Shut Up & Write sessions on Twitter on the first and third Tuesday of each month. The blog maintains a list of writing tips that offers writing advice from around the web. It also offers a list of “non-academic reads” with a view to inspiring readers to learn and apply the techniques and strategies of other writers to their own academic writing. 


30. Surviving Science (@NatashaTracey):

Surviving Science is a blog managed by Natasha Tracey, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, studying cancer research. The inception of her blog was fueled by her strong passion for science communication. Through “Surviving Science” she aims to share her experiences as a PhD student, both highs and lows. Natasha’s blog posts cover topics such as how to write different sections of a research paper, how to critically analyze a paper, and dealing with peer reviewer comments. She also blogs about her own research dealing with breast cancer.


31. The Comfort Pursuit (@silgtavares):

The Comfort Pursuit is a blog managed by Dr. Silvia Tavares, Lecturer in Urban Design at James Cook University. At the surface, it may seem that “The Comfort Pursuit” only showcases Dr. Tavares’ interest in the interfaces between architecture, urbanism, and landscape. However, a closer look at the various categories the blog has to offer revealed that Dr. Tavares also shares insights on academic writing, postgraduate life, and relevant tools and websites for researchers.


32. The Mad Scientist Confectioner's Club (@BioDataGanache):

The Mad Scientist Confectioner’s Club is a blog run by Dr. Jason McDermott, Senior Research Scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He is also the man behind the unique academic and research-based comic series on Twitter known as RedPen/BlackPen. According to Dr. McDermott, this blog covers the various elements of his own life and a few that go beyond. He blogs about various topics that fall within the realm of academic publishing such as academic writing, peer review, the scientific method, research funding, and science communication. Coupling each blog post with one of this fascinating doodles, Jason’s blog makes for an exciting reading experience!

You might also remember him from our list of 27 Hilarious academics on Twitter. Here’s a glimpse of one of his comics to jolt your memory! 


33. The PhD Blog (@Rob_MacIntosh):

The PhD Blog is suitable for anyone who is considering or is already doing doctoral level research. It is managed by managed by Robert MacIntosh, Honorary Professor, University of St. Andrews and Head of School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University. While most of the PhD Blog’s posts are intended for an audience studying management, many of the topics covered are transferrable to other disciplines and settings. Professor MacIntosh blogs about topics such as research methodology, epsitemology and ontology, research questions, and finding gaps in the literature.


34. The Research Whisperer (@researchwhisper)

The Research Whisperer is jointly managed by Dr Tseen Khoo, Lecturer, Research Education and Development, La Trobe University and Jonathan O'Donnell, Senior Advisor, Research Development at RMIT University. Similar to another academic blog, The Thesis Whisperer, it consists of blog posts by a number of contributors, all of which broadly focus on “doing research in academia.” More specifically, the posts cover topics such as finding funding, research culture, and building academic track-records. A special feature of The Research Whisperer is that it encourages readers to share their questions, interests, and feedback, which in turn function as a pool of potential ideas for new blogposts.


35. The Serial Mentor (@ClausWilke):

The Serial Mentor is a blog managed by Claus Wilke, Professor of Integrative Biology, University of Texas. The Serial Mentor offers a series of blog posts on scientific writing. Each of the posts is well organized and, according to Professor Wilke, can be considered as sections of books he may have written. He covers tips and advice on writing effectively, drafting grant proposals, writing and submitting research papers, etc. He also talks about career development-related topics such as how to be successful in graduate school, making effective presentations, and applying for academic jobs.   


36. The Skeptical Scientist (@Research_Tim ):

The Skeptical Scientist is a blog managed by Tim van der Zee, PhD student at Leiden University. Explaining the name of his blog, Tim says that skeptical scientists are those who are skeptical about their own research, about what they read, and that they aim to maximize evidential value. Through this blog, he shares his thoughts about research methodology, study design, evidence, (statistical) inference, and on how we can improve science. The Skeptical Scientist covers topics such as how to apply for an academic job and how to interpret confidence intervals.

Check out Tim van der Zee's guest article on Editage Insights - Why you should be a skeptical scientist


37. The Thesis Whisperer (@thesiswhisperer)

As the name indicates, The Thesis Whisperer aims to help research and PhD students through their journey towards completing a thesis or a dissertation. The blog publishes articles written by multiple contributors across the globe, all of which are edited by Dr Inger Mewburn, Director of Research Training at the Australian National University. The Thesis Whisperer’s archives include interesting PhD stories and experiences combined with useful tips to help PhD students conquer different challenges they face. Some of these tips cover writing and submitting a thesis, coping with stress, staying on track to achieve PhD goals, attending conferences, etc. Given that the blog’s contributors share tips that helped them scale their own PhD challenges, there is a personal touch and charm to each blogpost. 


38. WebMz (@webmz_):

WebMz is a blog managed by Dr. Maryam Zaringhalam, biologist, science writer, and 2017 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Dr. Zaringhalam writes for a variety of interesting scholarly and academic blogs, and each of her blog posts is archived on WebMz. Her blog covers a host of topics including women in science, the importance of speaking about failure in science, and exploring alternative academic career options. 


39. Write, Publish, Thrive (@WriteNThrive):

Write, Publish, Thrive is a blog about writing, publishing, and scholarly life. It is managed by Dr. Rich Furman, Professor at the University of Washington. Dr. Furman aims to help academics “maximize their strengths and transcend their psychosocial barriers so they can build powerful careers and thrive.” In light of this, Write, Publish, Thrive offers practical tips for publishing scholarly articles, and strengths-based coaching for academics, amongst other resources.


40. Writing for Research (@Write4Research):

As one of the prominent London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Blogs, Writing for Research provides insightful, practical advice and commentary for an audience ranging from PhD students and early career researchers to full-time teaching professionals and researchers working outside academia. As the sole contributor to all posts on this blog, Patrick Dunleavy, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics, aims to share the best approach to “write and communicate at an advanced research level.” With distinct, well-defined sections covering topics such as research writing, doing PhD work, and writing blogs, Writing for Research offers you “a menu of suggestions,” which you can choose to apply based on its relevance and suitability to your own academic career. 


That brings us to the end of our list of blogs by academics. What did you think of the blogs? How many of these were you already following? Do you know of other such blogs offering useful tips on academic writing and related topics? Write to us in the comments section. We’d love to hear you views!

Note: The blogs mentioned above have been listed alphabetically. However, this is not an exhaustive list and will be updated as and when we come across similar blogs.

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