The best academic blogs

5 minute read

Struggling to make sense of academia? These bloggers get it. Our pick of the 14 best academic blogs out there for 2019.

Academic cultural critique is best served in blog form. Thankfully, there is a slew of academic blogs on the interwebs, waiting to dish. Blogs commenting on funding and higher education policy. Blogs mulling over early-career research struggles or musing about the ever-elusive path to tenure. Blogs with tips to help you get to grips with conference etiquette, and with toolkits for surviving academic life.

Whether you want to discover what’s brewing in the world of scholarly publishing or learn what researchers think about particular areas of academia, academic blogs are a great form of online engagement. You could read all day and your journey would be only part-way begun. So we’ve picked the 14 best academic blogs for you to investigate. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The Thesis Whisperer

“Just like the horse whisperer – but with more pages.” The Thesis Whisperer is the blog of Inger Mewburn, Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Inger and her contributing academics contribute thoughtful posts on topics ranging from writing and presenting your work to getting stuff done. The blog also has a helpful review section for PhD-themed books. It’s a newspaper-style blog, that accepts posts from people who have built up extensive experiences as research students or doing their PhD.

In the midst of thesis haze? This academic blog will cheer you on.

Sample blog post: Bold requests

Ex Ordo's Virtual Conference Platform

2. The Research Whisperer

“Just like the Thesis Whisperer – but with more money.” (Yep, there’s a theme.) The Research Whisperer helps early-career researchers build professional profiles and navigate the sometimes-treacherous channels of academic funding. It’s edited by Tseen Khoo, Lecturer in Research Education and Development at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, and Jonathan O’Donnell a PhD and grant application advisor at RMIT University in Melbourne.

If you’re tackling a funding bid, hit subscribe.

Sample blog post: The care and feeding of critical friends

3. Blog on Math Blogs

Blog on Math Blogs is Anna Haensch, assistant professor at Duquesne University, freelance math writer Evelyn Lamb and Brie Finegold, co-organizer of Women Advancing Arizona Mathematics. Whether it’s misunderstood political polling, AIs that name paint colors (Burf Pink or Hurky White, anyone?), mathematically inspired GIFs, or upping your presentation game, they’ve got it covered.

Visit this blog and ready yourself for a trip down the rabbit hole.

Sample blog post: We Need To Talk

4. Writing for Research

Writing For Research is Patrick Dunleavy, Professor of Political Science & Public Policy at London School of Economics. This academic blog aims to help you master writing “creative non-fiction at a research level”, something easier said than done. Thankfully, it’s packed to the gills with advice on everything from structuring research papers to what to consider when choosing which journal to submit your paper to.

Subscribe and boost your academic writing skills.

Sample blog post: Using social media and open access can radically improve the academic visibility of chapters in edited books

5. Piled Higher and Deeper (aka PHD Comics)

“The comic strip about life (or the lack thereof) in Academia.” PHD Comics is the brain-child of Jorge Cham. Whether you’re battling imposter syndrome or dealing with harsh reviewer comments, Jorge’s been there. And his wry sense of humor makes the chewy bits of academic life a bit more digestible.

Dealing with a nightmare supervisor? This comic will help.

Sample blog post: Average time spent composing one e-mail

6. Get a Life, PhD

“All around me I heard that academia eats at your soul, breaks you down, and does not let you have a life outside of work.” So cheerily writes Tanya Maria Golash-Boza, Professor of Sociology at the University of California, and author of Get a Life, PhD. This academic blogs about finding balance as a researcher and a parent in a world where overwork and stress are endemic.

Searching for work-life balance? Subscribe.

Sample blog post: Why Daily Writing Leads to Productivity

7. GradHacker

GradHacker is an academic blog for graduates looking for “stories, tips, and challenges of others who are experiencing the same things.” Written by a community of bloggers, the topics range from software reviews to disabilities, to how to communicate your research to a general audience. Pretty handy during family holidays.

Like life hacks? GradHacker’s for you.   

Sample blog post: Working, Learning and Life Experiences

8. Patter

Patter is Pat Thomson, Professor of Education at The University of Nottingham. Pat’s research is primarily focused on schools changing to be more engaging and meaningful for young learners. This varied blog is chock-full of posts about everything from refining your research topic, to academic bad behavior, to taking inspiration from improv.

Subscribe for sound advice with a dash of whimsy.

Sample blog post: deep into writing the thesis? don’t forget to yodelayeehoo

9. Nick Hopwood

Nick Hopwood is the academic blog of an Associate Professor at the University of Technology Sydney. Though Nick largely writes about his work in educational research, his candid posts publicising his rejection in academia have been widely shared. “Success in academia is not about never failing, never being rejected,” he writes. “It is about not allowing rejections to take hold of you. If I preach this but don’t have the gall to match generalisations with concrete detail, I should just shut up.”

Got a stinking rejection recently? This blog will strike a chord.

Sample blog post: My wall of rejection and why it matters

10. Catherine Cronin

If you’re interested in open educational practices and research, the blog of  Catherine Cronin is for you. Catherine is an open education advocate and advisory member of the Open Education Working Group. She’s been heavily involved in research, teaching and advocacy in higher education for over 25 years. And blogs about progress across the communities of open education and digital identity. 

If you’re interested in how higher ed can better support students, staff and communities, this blog is for you.

Sample blog post: Open education in higher education: policy recommendations

11. Research to Action

How useful is research on development issues if it lives and dies within the halls of academia? This research has the potential to save lives and lift people from poverty in developing countries but – crucially – only if it’s actually used by policy-makers and those that lobby them. Research to Action is a global guide to increasing the impact of research. Whether you want to brush up on practical or strategic approaches to increasing the uptake of development research, it’s got something for you. Early-career researchers who want to be more effective and strategic in their communications will also find its many free resources on everything from engaging the public to seeing evidence turned into policy helpful.

Need to get your research into the hands of decision-makers? This blog is for you.

Sample blog post: Partnering for more effective and impactful development research   

12. Prof Hacker

ProfHacker provides tutorials, tips and commentary on pedagogy, productivity and tech in academia and higher education. Whether it’s detailing the latest Google App for academics or highlighting the importance of including voices from the periphery in academic “international” spaces, this is site typified by creativity, generosity and kindness.

Searching for a snark-free space online where it’s ok to show your inexperience? Hit subscribe.

Sample blog post: Making international academic spaces international

Ex Ordo's Virtual Conference Platform

13. Nadine Muller

Nadine Muller is challenging ideas about what academics look like. This senior lecturer in English Literature & Cultural History at the Liverpool John Moores University uses her blog to share skills that are often taken for granted in academia. But it’s her refreshingly honest documenting of experiences with anxiety and depression, and her questioning of how academics are expected to present themselves, their lives, and their work that make this blog a must-read for academics who don’t quite feel they fit the mould.

Interested in the conversations that are redefining what it means to be an academic? Head to Nadine’s blog.  

Sample blog post: The Twilight Zone: After the PhD, Before the Academic Job

14. Faculty focus

Most academics eventually experience the shift to the other side of learning – standing to face a seminar room full of students ready to be taught. Faculty Focus is a blog on effective teaching strategies for the college classroom. The blog is a useful tool for write-ups on the implementation of teaching improvements. And you can use it as both the basis for workshops activities and for transformative readings in the background.

Stuck on how to foster critical thinking in politically polarised times, or just need to developing content for an online course? This site is for you.

Sample blog post:  The “Big Bang” of Motivation: Questions That Evoke Wonder in Our Students

You’re not alone with your research: these people get it.

Brian Campbell

Brian is a data-driven marketeer, and responsible for helping people find Ex Ordo. He works part-time as a lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and loves quizzing his students on the latest business trends and insights. Brian enjoys hanging out with his little nephews, and playing and watching sports. He also likes to keep a keen eye on the scholarly research space, and has co-organised an academic conference to boot.