Today I'm going to discuss a paper by Sara Kjellberg, a PhD student from Lund University, Sweden. Ms Kjellberg interviewed 12 science bloggers about their blogging practices and motivations, as well as the functions of their blogs. She found that there are six main functions: disseminating content, expressing opinions, keeping up–to–date and remembering, writing, interacting, and creating relationships.
Disseminating content: science bloggers are usually passionate about their field of research, and the blog is a way for them to disseminate knowledge to a larger audience and in less formal manner than in scholarly journals. Interesting, though, that despite the will to reach the public, the interviewed researchers wanted to make their blogs more scholarly-like by using references.
Expressing Opinions: Unlike the "pure" scholarly communication, blogs are meant to be written with a personal touch, and provide the researchers to share their own point of view.
Keeping up-to-date and Remembering: A blog seem to be a perfect 'excuse' for researchers to make the effort and read the newest papers in their field, in order to find material for their own blog posts. Some researchers considered the blog a notebook of a sort, a way to organize their thoughts and ideas.
Writing: The blog is often use as a way to naturally improve one's writing skills.
Interacting: Unfortunately, science bloggers that aren't PZ Myers (Pharyngula) normally don't have a wide audience. Most science blogs are used as kind of 'seminars' for a small group of people to change ideas around a blog posting. In other cases, the readers rarely interact with the bloggers.
Creating Relationships: Blogging is a way to become part of scientific networks that aren't usually present in the blogger's day-to-day life.