Monday, November 28, 2011

Four reasons for blogging

Even though blogging is becoming more and more popular among scientists and researchers, I still notice some doubts and hesitation among my peers when it comes to blogging.

Some people react by saying "Who am I to speak up?", some think it is an (innocent) waste of time on the internet, others think of it as shameless self-promotion.

Over the past nine years, I've been having blogs here and there, but I never really made a solid habit out of blogging and I always ended up discontented with my own writing and deleting posts and even entire blogs - until this blog which is now a little over one year old.
Although I did not have a strong motivation to start this blog (it was initially part of my day zero project which didn't lead to much), I have found the following reasons along the way to keep writing here:  

1. A place to reflect

A main motivator for writing posts here, is self-reflection. Besides the research itself which I've been carrying out over the past years, I've come to an understanding of the broader implications of doing a PhD. Writing out what I've learned, and how I tackle certain situations, makes the entire learning process clearer to me. For example, recently I was wondering how much (or how little) my presentation style has changed after presenting at several conferences. I realized that I am not nervous anymore about presenting, and that I have found a certain routine which helps me to put a slideshow together within a relatively short amount of time. Thinking about this, and documenting what I've learned, helps me to realistically assess my development, instead of just worrying about all the work that still needs to be done before I can graduate.  

2. Documenting a journey

I've added additional pages to this blog, so I can keep track of the presentations I've given and the papers I've written so far. Also, I use this webspace to combine the links towards my slideshare presentations, as well as published papers which can be found online.  

3. Practice writing

I have the habit of writing an entire paragraph in a paper, and then simply select and delete it because I'm not satisfied with it, only to find myself staring at a blank screen again. It's a well-known advice that the more you write, the easier it becomes. Dissertation writing guides typically will tell you to make writing a daily habit. I too have experienced that writing a lot (blogging, journaling, writing small reports, scribbling notes about my literature review and all other forms of writing, have helped me to form coherent sentences. Also, I've become less harsh on myself - I can always edit afterwards if I find a mistake.

4. Say "hi" to the world

I'm not really interested in shameless self-promotion, but I simply do think that my work is interesting, and that there must be people nerdy enough out there who might be interested in my work. By making it googleable, and by showing some of my results and work, I want to wave at whoever might be interested in exchanging ideas on my research topic.

5. Not: money

Recently, I've been receiving some emails about sponsorships, but I've been declining. I'm not interested in making money from blogging. I'm doing this for fun and for myself, and I'm just not interested in earning something from this. Also, I'm a bit bothered by comments which, at first appear to add to the contents of this blog, but then also link to a sometimes completely unrelated commercial business. I am not judging or condemning anyone else whose ambition it is to make money from blogging, but I'm only stating here that it is not my motivation and that I try to keep this place ad-free and spam-free.


  1. Amazing, the internet is really small! I am also a PhD in TU Delft. Actually, we met each other quite often for both of us are working in Stevin 2.

    It's difficult to find a PhD student who blog a lot.

  2. What a nice coincidence! Thanks for the link on your blog :)

  3. I could see using a blog to discuss/interact/engage with others on your dissertation topic.

  4. I fully agree with your "practice writing" point! It doesn't matter what you are writing about (in my case it is technology in academia, until I am starting my other research blog), because writing is writing is writing. Looking forward to read more around here

  5. Indeed, writing is like a muscle which you can train...

    Thanks for the comment!