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Public engagement

A year in the life of a research institute: the WIMM blog celebrates its first birthday

Just over a year ago, the WIMM Blog first appeared on the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine’s webpage, tentatively re-posting an article that had originally been written for the MRC blog Insight. Today, the blog is a fully-fledged interactive site, and has had over two and half thousand hits in the last four months alone. Here we review the blog’s first year, and take a peek into what the future might hold…

Scientists love a good acronym. LHC. HSC. DNA. ENCODE.

Do you know your Large Hadron Collider from your Haematopoietic Stem Cell? And you’d have to know that DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid before you even began to attempt to understand what the ENCylopedia Of DNA Elements is all about…

There’s jargon associated with every discipline; politics, economics, geography, art – and so explaining concepts within any specialist field to a non-expert isn’t trivial….

But it isn’t impossible.

BirthdayCandles1And that’s what the WIMM Blog set out to do when it was established just over a year ago; to explain the cutting edge research that’s going on in the Institute in a way that doesn’t require the reader to have a PhD in molecular genetics or super-resolution microscopy (and there’s that jargon again…)

The blog was first launched as a message-board style page within the WIMM website, and in the early days had just under 100 views every few months – a steadily increasing trend, and not a bad hit rate for a new site, but nothing particularly remarkable. Then, in March 2014, the blog was awarded the MRC WIMM Public Engagement Prize and its readership tripled overnight.

Over the next few months, the blog slowly gained both new writers and new readers, and by the end of 2014 the most read blog post had been viewed nearly 500 times (we have learnt from this that mentioning Cheryl Cole in the title of a blog does wonders for your stats).

During this time a new version of the blog, hosted on WordPress, was under development. This new site allowed readers to interact with the blog by enabling them to comment on posts, and to easily connect to various social media platforms. Since the blog launched on WordPress in November 2014, it has had over two and a half thousand visitors, and blogs have been discussed and shared on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

So what’s next? The writers and editors of the blog will continue to cover research actively going on at the Institute and show you precisely why the WIMM is a world-leading research centre. We’ll also post the views from our summer placement students; and cover activities designed to communicate science via other interactive methods (such as the ‘I’m A Scientist Get Me Out Of Here’ initiative).

This blog is written by specialists who are committed to making their work accessible and understandable to the people who will actually benefit from it – that’s everyone, science degree or otherwise. And that’s what we will continue to do.

Watch this space…

Discussion

2 thoughts on “A year in the life of a research institute: the WIMM blog celebrates its first birthday

  1. Congratulations! Inspired by your efforts, the WTCHG now has a blog up and running at http://www.well.ox.ac.uk/wtchg-blog

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by wtchgblog | February 23, 2015, 12:12 pm

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