Spread the word: Expert says blogs help land-grant universities strengthen connection with public

December 9, 2011

Blogs and other forms of social media are ideal tools to further the goals of academic institutions, especially the research, education and extension activities of land-grant universities like Kansas State.

That's the focus of an article authored by a Kansas State University food safety expert and two colleagues that will appear in the journal Innovative Higher Education. "Blogs, infosheets and new media as academic scholarship in food safety research, education and extension" is now available online in advance of publication at bit.ly/vyzEhV.

In the article, Doug Powell, a professor of food safety in the department of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at K-State, says that researchers and extension personnel at should be encouraged to use blogs and other to strengthen relations with public stakeholders and enhance their engagement with interested individuals, groups, and subject matter experts.

"We've been running barfblog.com for almost five years and more than 5,000 posts," Powell said. "Some posts are scientific, some are sad and some are silly. But we keep readers coming back while promoting the goal of a safer food supply. Rather than just respond, we help shape the public discussion of food safety issues."

The article was co-written with Ben Chapman, assistant professor at North Carolina State University, and Casey Jacob, a former K-State research assistant.

The authors note that while being more transparent and nimble with results, blogs and other online communication can compliment rather than replace the rigors of peer-review. Blogs and other online communication forums do represent an additional mechanism for the rapid sharing of ideas, methodologies, research, findings and dialogue. They also say disclosure should be provided on the procedures used for sourcing and conveying information, and references should be cited when appropriate.

"It's about building trust," Chapman said. "There's an abundance of information online, some evidence-based, some not. Researchers who use and other social media can build trust by pulling back the curtain on discovery and showing an interested audience how they investigated a problem, limitations and all."

Explore further: People often talk about politics on blogs geared toward other topics

Related Stories

Social networking top online activity in US

September 13, 2011

US Internet users are spending nearly a quarter of their online time at blogs and social networks, with Facebook the most popular destination, according to a survey released Monday by Nielsen.

Recommended for you

How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

November 22, 2017

Picture a grasshopper landing randomly on a lawn of fixed area. If it then jumps a certain distance in a random direction, what shape should the lawn be to maximise the chance that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after ...

Ancient barley took high road to China

November 21, 2017

First domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, wheat and barley took vastly different routes to China, with barley switching from a winter to both a winter and summer crop during a thousand-year ...

New paper answers causation conundrum

November 17, 2017

In a new paper published in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, SFI Professor Jessica Flack offers a practical answer to one of the most significant, and most confused questions in evolutionary ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.