— January 16, 2019
Scientists have a thing for writing. After months of researching, withdrawing from their families, and sleeping in labs, researchers announce their breakthroughs through the medium of writing. They are aware of the fact that crystal-clear writing is the media through which any scientific finding is broadcasted.
Meanwhile, university professors don’t just scribe words in the middle of the night, hoping that the words will be featured in top academic journals. Like bloggers, they spend a ton of time thinking about and tweaking an article idea before they pick up their pen and paper and put the idea into words.
What can bloggers learn from this meticulous writing process? Let’s jump in with these four blog-writing tips.
1. Find a good research problem.
This is the first and most important step in any form of academic writing.
Before their work is approved, researchers have to come up with not just any research problem but a good problem that, when properly researched, will serve as an addition to the existing stock of scientific knowledge (see tip #4).
A good research problem is one that’s clearly identified, stated and formulated. According to Alan Bryman, Professor of Organizational and Social Research at the University of Leicester, it is “a definite or clear expression about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature…”
It’s the equivalent of a good blog topic in the content marketing world, a topic that’s underexplored or not fully discussed. Come up with a good blog topic, and you’ve solved half of your blog writing puzzle. The next important task rests in finding a gaping hole in that topic.
Read tip number two to discover what I mean.
2. Find a gap in the literature.
You have come up with a good research problem. Now, how do you turn it into a great research title? You must look for a gap in the literature.
The gap—also considered in academic writing lingo “the missing piece or pieces in the research literature”—is the niche or area that has not yet been explored. Discovering the gap is the most tedious and daunting part of writing academic articles. It requires you to sit down and review what others have written about your problem, identify the gap in their findings, and then fill in the gap with your new research.
The same is true for a blog writer. Think of a problem, conduct research (to see if anybody has written about it), and write the blog post or the eBook. In other words, publish first-class posts with new information and fresh insight.
Your audience will love you for that.
3. Identify specific research questions.
Academic writing is not just about telling tales or writing stories that interest you. It’s about identifying vital questions in your area of study that needs urgent answers and investing months or years in answering them.
You identify the questions first—before you begin writing on the research problem. Why? Because you extract almost every section of your work from your research questions. For example:
- Your research objectives come from them,
- Your literature review comes from them, and
- Your data collection and analysis come from them.
This is equivalent to a blogger sketching a solid outline of points upon which her meaty article will be based. Remember, your audience should find a detailed answer to their pressing question by the time they finish reading your blog post. In other words, your posts should serve as additional valuable resources to your community, customers, and the entire blogosphere.
That brings me to my most important point.
4. What’s your contribution to knowledge?
When I was in my final year in college, I was excited about my research topic. I spent weeks researching, writing, and editing the first chapter.
I thought that I had done a great job. I thought that my null hypotheses were fancy. I thought the depth of my research and the volume of my words was scholarly. So I submitted the chapter to my supervising professor Margaret, a very bright and brilliant Professor of Psychology.
What happened after that?
She painted the entire chapter with red ink and numerous comments. In one of the comments, she told me, “I’m not interested in your words. I’m more interested in what contribution your work will add to the scientific community.”
She further explained to me, in person, that in order to write an academic work that contributes to knowledge, “You’ve got to think deeply about your research objectives and hypothesis—and don’t forget to be consistent.”
The lesson for a blogger is this: Write words that educate your fan base.
Academic writing is scientific.
Researchers begin with deep thought about a particular problem and move to interrogate that problem by reviewing it and discovering a gap in it. They also focus their points on specific research questions that are central to their study and make sure that their answers contribute to the existing body of knowledge. The academic writing process follows the same pattern as blog writing.
Posts that do well online narrate a different story or tell a well-known story from a different perspective. They also answer questions that are vague or difficult to answer, making the online world more educational, fun, and entertaining. Your job, as a blogger, is to incorporate all of these tips into your next post—to give it more punch and power and get more profit.