Blog instructions for Nessling Foundation’s grant receivers
The Nessling Foundation blog gives a voice to researchers. We encourage all our grant receivers to share their valuable thoughts, insights and solutions.
Are people talking about something you have expertise on? Do you want to take the discussion to the next level, speak out or bring forward a completely new topic? Have you come up with an interesting observation in your work? Get your different voices and opinions out there via our blog!
Nessling Foundation’s Solutions blog provides researchers an agile channel for participating in the public discussion. We edit your text until it’s ready to be published and also share it on our foundation’s Facebook page and Twitter account.
What subjects work in a blog?
A blog post is lighter than an academic paper and usually takes a few hours to write. A good rule of thumb is the more current your topic is the better. As an expert you can participate in the discussion by giving a point of view or a piece of information that hasn’t been taken into account yet.
Here’s how you recognize a great blog subject:
1. The topic excites/amuses/annoys you. You try to start a conversation about it in the breakroom/at home/at the barber’s.
2. You get the feeling that you should tell people about this topic. Is there insufficient information going around about it or has something new been discovered, no matter how small, that hasn’t been shared yet?
3. You experience a Eureka! - moment. Did you just gain a new insight? Share it!
Writing a blog post differs from writing a scientific article especially when it comes to structure. In a scientific article you save the conclusions for last whereas in a blog post or any other sort of popular text you should start with your best bit. This is how you engage your reader. Begin with your best, most exciting or touching insight: put your best effort in the headline and the first sentence.
Keep in mind that you’re writing for people outside your field. Avoid any jargon specific to your research group. Blog texts circulate, so your reader could just as well be a researcher from another research organisation, a CEO of a company, a student or a stay-at-home mom. That’s why you shouldn’t get too tangled in your organisations inner twists and turns but concentrate on writing about your own work in an interesting way. Use clear general language and explain the more difficult terms as you would to a middle-schooler.
Recycling rules! You can base your blog text for example on a recent popular speech and vice versa. Tailor the same insights into different channels. You can write your blog in English or in Finnish.
Building blocks for a good blog post
1. Pick a point of view and stick with it
Where do you want your text to take your readers? Choose a destination for your text and as you write take the road that leads to that destination. You might be tempted to take other roads as you proceed. If you can’t resist the temptation, don’t get lost.
2. Try to tell something exciting to your readers
And begin with the most exciting thing. The headline and the first sentence are the most important parts of your text. Offer your readers a point of view they hadn’t thought about before. Think carefully what it is about your subject that interests your readers. What’s the first thing you tell your friend when you meet them and want to get their attention? Begin with that. A lot of people find a researcher’s job fascinating.
3. Let your own voice be heard
Blog posts are much more relaxed than press releases. Don’t be afraid to stand up and voice an opinion! Try not to drown your reader in a well of “on one hand… but on the other hand…”. You can find your own style only by writing, so bring your personality out and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Types of blog post published in the Solutions blog
You can use one of these as a general structure for your text. These text types help you get started with your writing, but you don’t need to conform to them too much.
1) Did you know, that…? New information and points of view on the world of science and research
The researcher introduces a new phenomenon, research finding or point of view in an interesting way. They can recount facts but above all they bring out their own musings and views on the phenomenon in question. For example: if you tell your readers that people are eating increasingly less meat in Finland, explain why you think that is and where this development might lead. Readers are interested in researchers’ educated guesses. Use clear and concise language.
2) This hasn’t been said yet (or has but not with enough emphasis). Adding a statement to the ongoing public discussion
Writing a blog post is a great opportunity to participate in a societal discussion or start one. We need more of researchers’ valuable insights on current topics. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion!
Structure-wise a good opinionated text begins with a claim – something new no one has brought to the table yet. Then connect your claim to the general discussion with a few sentences that provide some background information on the ongoing debate. This helps those not yet emerged in the discussion get on board.
After giving background information you can explain and deconstruct your own argument in two or three paragraphs. Instead of listing problems, suggest solutions. The tone of voice in this text should be polemic, opinionated and solution-oriented.
Formatting your blog post
Length of your text:
The recommended length of any given blog post is one page, that is roughly 3000 characters including spaces. Feel free to compress your message!
Short, witty and provocative work well online. A good headline includes an active verb.
Begin your text with a short summary (a few sentences) that draw your reader in and encourage them to read the whole text. The summary might include for example an interesting detail from the text or a question that leads to the main theme.
A good subhead persuades your reader to keep reading. When people are online they don’t read texts as much as glance at them, so it’s important to try to keep readers engaged. A one page text should include 2–3 concise subheads.
If you feel like it, include hyperlinks to other sources that touch on your subject. This way you can lead your readers towards additional information. You can also make a further readings list at the end of your text.
Always include a headshot or a photo of yourself emerged into your research subject. Feel free to attach other related images as well!
Every writer gets a short (2–3 sentences) profile. Tell us who you are and what you do. For example: “The writer works as a postdoc researcher at the University of Helsinki. Her research on the subject XXXXX / titled XXXXX is funded by Nessling Foundation.”
Once you’re done with your blog post: