Each student will be creating a professional research blog using WordPress that will detail and reflect on each stage of their research process. (For an excellent summary of why research blogs are effective and meaningful, see Joyce Valenca’s excellent post).
A key component of qualitative research is the authenticity of the writer/researcher and as such will be asking you to use your real names when creating and naming your research blogs (if you have a strong opposition to using your real name, please let me know so we can discuss it). For example, I might name my blog: Bill Wolff’s Research Blog (with the subheading, investigating a decaying farmhouse in the Delaware countryside) that has the URL, http://billwolff.wordpress.com. When people find the blog, and when you point to it when talking with or contacting interview subjects, having your real name associated with it provide authoritative weight and grounding.
For the blog portion of the assignment, each student will be responsible for at least 2 blog posts and 2 blog post responses on other course research blogs per week except for the week when the student is discussion leader. Each student will post at least two kinds of posts for the weeks they are posting: 1) posts that extends the class discussion in terms of their own research, and 2) posts that report and reflect on your research progress. Additional assignments, such as the research proposal and potential interview questions, will also be posted to the blog.
Posts that extend class discussion should take what we have discussed in class about a text or series of texts and continue the discussion in terms of your own research and/or thoughts about research. Often in class we will come up with a list of questions that are raised by the text(s). A post might address one of those questions. Note that this is not a place to say whether you liked or did not like the text(s). Rather, create a discussion that allows readers to understand how your ideas on your research are evolving. These are due no later than Sunday evening following class discussion. This will give us all time to read and comment on them. The first post should be about the readings assigned for week 2.
Posts that report and reflect on your research progress should provide readers with an update of what you have been doing lately in your research process. These should be detailed and include in-depth reflection on what you have done and not just what you have been doing. This kind of reflection is important because it will make you more critically aware of your research process, help you think through research-related questions that are raised by what you are doing/finding, and provide others an opportunity to weigh in. These are due any time during the week, but should start week 2 with brainstorms about possible research topics.
When designing, creating, and writing in your blog, please complete the following:
- Choose a professional and meaningful title and subtitle (due online by 2/10);
- Compose a detailed and relevant about page that discusses who you are as well as what you are investigating (due online by 2/10);
- Choose an appropriate theme (due online by 2/10);
- Add at least the following sidebar widgets: Twitter, tag cloud, categories, links, and search (due online by 2/17);
- For each post, compose a meaningful title written for an audience larger than our class;
- For each post, include 5 – 6 tags and at least 1 category
Experiment with the dashboard area; see how things work and what happens when you make changes. The more you engage with, customize, and explore your blog, the more effective it will be and the more you will get out of the assignment.
There is no set requirement for the length of a blog post. Indeed, one of the features of the medium of blogging and the characteristics of posts is that the length is determined by it’s content and goals. However, for our purposes, each post should thoroughly discuss the subject at hand. See the posts at Godzilla: Is New Media Consuming the Old? for excellent examples.