DoctoralwritingSIG is one year old! They say it takes a community to raise a child—and our experience of bringing up baby has definitely been a wonderfully collegial experience for the four editors—and, we believe, for our growing readership. We’ve been introduced to a whole new space of academic inquiry and exchange, and, we suspect, introduced many others to this world along the way.
Claire, Cally and Susan set out nervous about our ability to produce our issue in the digitas and to adapt to the genre of blogging. Inger confidently assisted us to master the craft, and after a few months, and with some extra help from Nguyen Thai (Beo) who built a manual and showed us how to care for the site, we pretty well took over the parenting. We aim for a post more or less weekly. Our practice has been to circulate our drafts to each other before putting them up, a process that inevitably sharpens our writing. Now we exchange quick updates on the babe and keep watch on the stats with maternal pleasure. Each of us has bonded with blogging – yes, it is addictive!
The impulse for this site was the 2012 QPR conference when it was agreed that a Special Interest Group (SIG) on doctoral writing would be welcomed by conference attendees. At the time, some 40 people signed up to signal their interest; now we have expanded far beyond that. There are bigger kids out there, but we’re happy enough with our progress. Our first blog was launched on September 7th, 2012, and since then our average monthly hits have tripled. We regularly receive 300+ views a day, with more than 26,000 over the year. We have approximately 500 followers and DoctoralwritingSIG is listed on many university and other websites for researchers and students. We are being read in over 81 countries and our biggest following is in the UK (more than double the number of Australian or New Zealand readers).
Building a community of people interested in doctoral writing and the research experience was one of our original aims – and we think we’ve made some progress toward that. We don’t have exact details on who our audience is, but we do know we are part of a growing online community of researchers, doctoral students and supervisors, academic developers and literacy advisers amongst others. Other blogs reblog our posts and readers are regularly referred to our site—our reach continues to grow. We have had two guest posts, one from Michelle Picard (Adelaide University) on doctoral research assessment and one from Jamie Burford (Auckland University) on emotions around writing. We aim to feature more guest bloggers as a regular part of our activities.
Since its launch DoctoralwritingSIG has found its feet and grown considerably, but we also think we’ve got a way to go, and we have plans for the next few years at least. As we approach the 2014 QPR Conference we’ll review our goals and scrutinise our achievements more rigorously. We’d welcome your thoughts and feedback, too.
In short, then, like any parents, we are hugely pleased with our creation. Our birthday post in fact has all the balloons, cake, fizzy wine and cheering appropriate to our blog-site’s survival of its first year.