Evidence Synthesis Team

To blog or not to blog?

Gift Present Celebrate Party Wrapped Simple Concept


Yesterday we co-hosted a tweet chat on blogging. Our co-hosts were André Tomlin who blogs (with many others) as the Mental Elf, Caron Sprake who blogs as Caron Cares and Professor Andrew McRae who blogs as aheadofdepartmentblog (two of whom have recently been listed in the top 10 Health care blogs by Vuelio!)

You had me at ‘let’s blog…’

Our co-hosts originally got involved when we invited them to speak at a seminar in June on blogging as part of our Creative Communication seminar series.  Each of the speakers came from different backgrounds and their blogs had different perspectives and purposes which is why we thought they made a good mix to talk to us about their experiences of blogging.

As it turned out, we were right. The seminar was fantastic, lively and engaging with great feedback and interaction from the audience.

The speakers covered similar topics such as:  their experience of blogging, the purpose of their blog, what platform they use, who their audience is and how they interact with them, how they share their blog on social media, and tips for new and existing bloggers – but from their own experience and perspective. It was great to hear about the variety of experiences, to know what is possible and that what might not work for some might still work for others. You can see their presentations on our website but some of the key messages were:

Ready, steady, blog!

Following on from the seminar, André Tomlin then hosted a practical workshop where attendees were able to get to grips with what it’s like to write a blog (and in this case specifically for the Mental Elf blog). Writing the blog as a group proved to be quite tricky as we got bogged down in the detail of the journal article we were reviewing (we were writing a blog about a recent piece of research). André was patient and managed to pull some thoughts together that we could all agree on and posted the blog the next day.

You can find the blog post here.

To date it has had 2,350 page views, with an average time spent on the blog of 3:44 minutes (anything over 2 minutes is considered good), its audience was international (50% UK, 18% US, 5% Australia, 3% Canada) and most engagement happend on Twitter. André assures me that this is overall about average for a Mental Elf blog but “good for a Thursday in June”!

We need to tweet about blogging…

As a follow up to the seminar we agreed to host a tweet chat to provide further opportunity to share experiences and tips as part of a growing community of bloggers. The discussion covered a range of questions and interesting insights, including establishing the right tone and frequency for your blog considering your content, purpose and audience; thinking about the longevity of your blog’s name/description; the pros and cons of blogging independently or as part of a group/shared platform; and experiences of negative or more challenging reactions.

Through the tweet chat (and despite the distraction of a small foray between the team dog and the campus cat!) we identified a number of blogs (below) that people are writing and some that were highlighted as good reads, so take a look, have a read and be inspired to start blogging!


Siobhan O’Dwyer https://researchthatcares.com

PenCRU Family Faculty blog http://www.pencru.org/getinvolved/familyfacultyexperiences/eacd2017/

Andrew McRae https://headofdepartmentblog.wordpress.com/

Mental Elf (Andre Tomlin) https://www.nationalelfservice.net/mental-health/

Catherine Talbot https://blogofasocialmediaresearcher.wordpress.com/

Evidence Synthesis Team https://evidsynthteam.wordpress.com/

Realist Hive (Rebecca Hardwick) http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/realisthive/

Exeter HS&DR Evidence Synthesis Centre https://siftingsensemaking.wordpress.com/

Methods in Evidence Synthesis Salon (Tess Moore) https://themessweb.wordpress.com/

Wessex CLARHC https://nihrclahrcwessex.wordpress.com/

Zoe Ashton http://whythelongwords.blogspot.co.uk/

Great Manchester CLAHRC http://clahrc-gm.nihr.ac.uk/blog/

Michelann Quimby https://msmichelann.com/

Cochrane http://www.evidentlycochrane.net/

Pooky Knightsmith http://www.inourhands.com/

Social Spider (Mark Brown) http://thenewmentalhealth.org/

Mental health blog https://sectioneduk.wordpress.com/about/some-more-about-me/

Charlotte Walker (Mental health blog) https://purplepersuasion.wordpress.com/about/

Higher education blog http://wonkhe.com/

The Patient Experience Library https://www.patientlibrary.net/cgi-bin/library.cgi?page=Blog

Linda Long Exeter Cardiac Group