Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Graduate Education: Writing blog posts is lesson in professional development

By Jeffrey Brainard, Maryland Sea Grant

Graduate fellow William Yagatich learned through practice how to interview people effectively for his sociological research about efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay. He also learned on the job an even more important task: being a new father to an infant girl.

Yagatich wrote about the similarities between the two endeavors – both required patience and trial and error – in a post he wrote for Maryland Sea Grant’s blog, Fellowship Experiences.

The blog, begun in mid-2014, is written by and about fellows funded by Maryland Sea Grant, and it represents an unusual, successful experiment within the Sea Grant network in the realm of professional development. So far the blog has received 30 posts written by almost as many different students. Many of these posts have gone on to become some of the most popular content on Maryland Sea Grant’s website, attracting hundreds of online views and interest on social media.

All fellows funded by Maryland Sea Grant are required to write at least two posts per year. The fellows are encouraged to describe their research and graduate-education experiences for a general audience including non-scientists. The experience offers an early taste and practice in public communication and outreach, a skill that is useful for scientists to secure attention and funding from funders and policy makers.

Blogging for a general audience requires the fellows to use a writing style different from formal academic writing, with its focus on scientific methods and results, with which many fellows are more comfortable and familiar. Staff members from Maryland Sea Grant’s communications staff guide the fellows by editing their drafts and encouraging them to express themselves in a more personal way. As a result, many fellows have offered anecdotes and reflections that illustrate how the realities of graduate school can differ from their initial expectations. Students have written about a range of professional development issues, like how they chose dissertation topics, how to get the most out of attending scientific conferences, and how to prepare for news coverage of a scientific journal article’s findings. Students also provide photographs and graphics to illustrate their points.

For Yagatich, this kind of professional communication “was a big hurdle for me. I’m always writing for an audience that knows the jargon” of sociology. The blog’s editors encouraged him, for example, to find a plain-language alternative for some sociological terms like “actionable issues.”

Yagatich says the experience taught him that “being able to effectively communicate to the public what you’re researching and what you’re passionate about is important.” He also learned “to be more comfortable about not getting so tied up in the details. It’s more about getting an idea across to a general audience.” To that end, he says, writing blog posts “was challenging and refreshing at the same time. I was grateful for the opportunity to have that outlet.”

See the Fellowship Experiences blog at http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/fellowship-experiences.

Related Posts
Aquaculture

Virginia Sea Grant Launches the USDA and NOAA-Supported Aquaculture Information Exchange Online Community Platform

The Aquaculture Information Exchange (AIE) online community platform website is now live and open for new user registrations. The AIE represents a joint effort between NOAA’s National Sea Grant Office, NOAA’s Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and Virginia Sea Grant.

Read More >
Image of Capitol Hill with a bright blue cloudless sky and blooming cherry blossom tree in the right corner
Academia to Government

Sea Grant Announces the 2024 Class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2024 class of the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program. The 85 early-career professionals selected will be placed in federal government offices throughout Washington, D.C., and join the over 1,600 individuals who have participated in the program since its inception in 1979.

Read More >
Image of plastic debris on Oregon’s Clatsop Beach by Tiffany Woods | Oregon Sea Grant.
Extension

Sea Grant announces funding opportunities to support community-engaged marine debris removal and prevention

Sea Grant announces $19 million in federal funding opportunities to address the prevention and removal of marine debris. These opportunities are a component of nearly $3 billion in targeted investments for NOAA in the areas of habitat restoration, coastal resilience and weather forecasting infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
 

Read More >
Scroll to Top