What are the Research Communities?
The Research Communities provide a space for authors, editors and other members of the science community to share their research, key findings, stories behind published papers, and views on developments in the field.
The blog posts can also help promote reader engagement with recently-published papers, which may ultimately increase their impact in their respective field.
Who are the readers?
Although the Communities’ readers are primarily involved in research, the platform is openly accessible, and therefore fosters a greater diversity of people than might otherwise find your paper via a journal. Community posts are freely available online and can be shared widely on social media, so the readers can range from experts in the field to members of the public.
What makes a good blog post?
The writing style and language
Impactful blog posts are written in accessible language, breaking down the research papers they describe to account for the fact that their readers come from a range of different fields. This may involve, for example, avoiding scientific jargon and explaining acronyms, where relevant. We encourage the use of a less formal, personal tone. Writing in the first person is an effective way to describe your experiences and thoughts.
Incorporating personal stories and experiences
Blog posts can include personal stories and anecdotes: what led you to pursue this study? What was the research process like? Were you predominantly based in the lab, out in the field, or doing computational and/or analytical work? Can you describe some of these experiences for our readers? Was the study a collaborative effort?
These are examples of the types of stories you may wish to include in your post. The use of personal anecdotes can make the content more relatable and easy to digest.
The message: broader implications of the paper
Writing a blog post provides authors with the opportunity to clearly explain why their research findings are important. This is sometimes implied in the introduction or final sentences of a research paper, but here, authors are encouraged to break down the significance of their study for the Community. For example, if you are developing a new material for solar cells, how might it impact the future of clean energy? If you have obtained new images of a black hole in space, how might they be used to broaden our understanding of astronomy?
Please make sure you are clear about what your findings show in the context of the wider literature — where do your results sit within the existing knowledge of your research field?
A logical structure and flow
To make your blog easily accessible and encourage the maximum number of readers, we recommend using a logical, consistent structure. This might involve the use of subheadings, for example, or sections that loosely reflect your research paper.
A short introduction and conclusion are useful to provide context to your blog. However, the remaining sections may be less formal. You might want to place more emphasis on your findings and results, for example, and discuss your methodology in less detail. It’s completely up to you how you choose to structure your blog – we only recommend that you keep it simple, consistent and appealing to our wide readership!
By structuring your blog mindfully, you may also widen the reach of your post. Accessibility and inclusion are important considerations to factor in when uploading content onto a public forum such as the Research Communities.
Explain your figures, images and videos
Ensuring accessibility and encouraging engagement may also require you to include figure captions to describe your figures and/or audio-visual content, where applicable. If you add images or videos to your blog, please include captions, add a description and alt text. These will serve to drive stronger engagement with your post, particularly with videos so that audiences can watch them without sound.
Use of external links and sources
Encouraging engagement in your blog may also be achieved by the use of external links. Provided that they are appropriate and relevant, links may allow you to grant readers with additional context (e.g. linking an affiliated organization or institution) without going into excess detail in your writing. However please ensure that any external content is in line with our Community Policy and is not of promotional nature.
We encourage you to use the ‘article link’ feature, which can be found on the options bar when you are editing your blog draft, allowing you to link your research paper to the post.
Similarly, good citations and sourcing add credibility to your blog. Although citations are not mandatory (please be wary of copyright infringements), they provide a sense of reassurance to readers and give them the opportunity to find out more, should any questions arise.
Badges refer to journals where related research has been published and reflect your contributor status on the Community. They make it easier for readers to find and engage with your blog by grouping all the posts from the same journal together.
When you are editing your blog post (e.g. for the ‘Behind the Paper’ channel) you can select a ‘badge’ (right-hand menu in the post creation viewpage) that pertains to your research paper in the relevant journal. Only one journal badge should be selected. Status badges (i.e. Contributor, Editor) are added automatically. More information on how to add a badge to your post can be found in the ‘About the Community’ channel.
What draws readers to a blog post?
Poster images, which are visible from the Community home page, are the first thing members will see when browsing the Community. As such, they are incredibly important in making sure your blog post looks exciting and catch the reader’s attention.
Images and video clips can draw readers in, provide context, and deepen the understanding of the research findings. Blog posts are a great way to share any behind-the-scenes photographs, striking figures, or interesting videos that may not have been included in the research paper or shared publicly.
Information on adding an image to your blog can be found on the ‘About the Community’ channel. We suggest that you avoid overly complex figures as these can take away from the content of the blog itself. In cases where no other visual content is readily available, it may help to break down figures with a clear figure caption.
We often feature images from Community blog posts on our social media channels. Our Instagram feed might provide you with an idea of the types of content we look for. Images should ideally be in high resolution and under 1MB in size. Animations and videos continue to gain more and more attention across the web and so we highly encourage you to use any videos from your research across the Communities!
Spreading the word
Once you have published your blog post, there are a number of ways that you can directly encourage engagement with your blog post.
Firstly, you can share it with your colleagues. In the same way that a logical, clear structure can draw readers to your blog, so too can encouraging engagement via direct networking. Please tell your team, organization or institution about the publication of your blog. They may be able to help you further widen the reach of your content across the Research Communities and beyond.
You can also share your post on social media. We encourage you to make use of the ‘Share’ feature at the top of your published post, allowing you to share it directly across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The same result may be achieved by copying the URL of your post and including it in posts on external platforms.
If you have any questions about writing a blog post for any channel, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the team via email.
We look forward to reading about your work!