This is my first ever blog – so readers please be kind! I am research communications manager for the university and keen to raise the profile of the breadth and depth of our research to an external audience – the general public, the media, funders, charities, government departments etc.
We do have various ways of doing this – via the twice-yearly Research Review, press releases, and films for example – but I wanted to do something that would also encourage the public to give feedback. That’s how The Forum, as the new blog site is called, was born.
The idea is for academics to submit an article about their areas of work, sometimes tied in with the news agenda, and generate public debate by way of moderated comments. Many departments already have blog sites and I wanted to expand on this and open it up for the whole University to show off our expertise. Initially, each article will be ‘live’ for a month before it is archived.
We want to hear what people think about our work, maybe they have learnt something new, maybe they are working on a similar area, maybe they disagree; the more comments the merrier.
We have a lot to shout about – as a research-intensive university we have real-world impact and we want people to know how we are helping with some of the major challenges facing society. Talking of major challenges and one of those for me was the technical side of setting up the blog!
Digital Development have been a big support to me during this process and it was very easy requesting the blog site from ITS – they even came up with a banner for me which I have been able to adapt, again with the help of Digital Development. There has been a certain amount of hand-holding during the process, but if nothing else I have learnt a few new skills along the way and in doing so extended my own ‘digital literacy’ and helped the development of others. I hope, however, that I shall be kept very busy moderating all the comments and debate that academics’ articles generate. That will be the true measure of The Forum’s success.
To see our first three postings visit The Forum at http://blogs.reading.ac.uk