Guidelines for Writing Blog Posts

By Julia Azari

These are guidelines – not all posts will conform to all of this advice. Some won’t follow any of it. Follow your instincts. But here’s some advice for getting started.

  1. Explain the event or news hook in a few sentences and link it to some larger themes in the political science literature. Help your reader understand what kind of thing this is – how it fits in with a broader set of social science concepts.
  2. Blogging is an act of generosity with your scholarly expertise. As such, it requires you to sometimes summarize a couple of key points in a literature and explain how it illuminates something your reader might have seen in the news or be wondering about (particularly if mainstream media frames might mischaracterize it). Some questions that are sometime helpful: 1. how do we see the same thing happening in different geographical contexts, and how might that comparison help us understand? 2. Is a causal argument being made in the media that isn’t supported by data? 3. Is a normative argument being made in the media that isn’t supported by data? 4. Is this a phenomenon/part of the world/obscure government agency that is underappreciated in mainstream US media? Why should our readers care about it?
  3. When possible, it is great for readers to get a bit of the value that only YOU as a scholar can add. What does your research say about this event or news story? Blogging can also be a great outlet for “outtakes” from your research – stories, little bits of data, observations you made along the way, etc.
  4. Practical advice: have one key hook or piece of data at most. When in doubt, try to organize the piece into three parts. Here’s a thesis and three reasons why it’s right. Here’s the background, the conventional view, and then the correct political science on this question/phenomenon. Here are three things you didn’t know about country/Senate rule/phenomenon X. Sometimes starting with three will bring you to five things. Sometimes it will make you realize you actually just have one central argument. (A corollary to this advice is that if you are stuck, you are probably trying to do 3x as many things as you can in a short post.)