Blogs are informal style articles which can provide contextual considerations for a Cochrane review in addition to presenting the main results. Good blogs are informative, engaging and thought provoking for the reader. With blogs, you are able to invite conversation from readers through comments. You can either write a singular blog post for your research findings and host that post on a pre-existing blog page, or you can set up your own blog page to blog regularly.
How to Create a Blog
Where will you host your blog? If you wish to blog on an ongoing basis, you might want to consider setting up your own blog site. This blog presents some of the more common platforms you can use. If you would just like to blog occasionally, you could be a guest blogger on someone else’s blog, or host your blog post on the Cochrane Groups’ internal website. Wherever you set up your blog, be sure to adjust your settings so you are notified when a reader comments, so you can be aware of the activity on your blog.
What topics will you cover? If you want to publish a series of blog posts, it might make sense to plan the topics out.
Who will write the blog posts? If you start a blog website, not all blog posts have to be written by you – think about interesting people who might be willing to submit a blog post.
- When will you publish? If you are writing a blog post about the results of a review it helps if blog posts are published close to the timing of the publication of the review. You may also wish to blog as part of planned special series, because the review is linked to a topic receiving attention in the media, or because it is relevant to a health awareness day.
Top Tip! Before starting a blog, talk to an existing blogger about their experience. Several examples from around Cochrane exist (see the last section of this page for examples).
Write for your audience. As for all dissemination, it is important to think about your audience. Although blogs allow a more informal writing style, you should present the evidence in a clear, concise and consistent way.
Make your blog accessible. This includes how you write your blog with plain language, the format of your blog, and the accessibility of the website you choose to host it on. Cochrane UK has a blog post on how to make your blog more accessible.
Make the blog relevant. Blogs allow you to build in some ‘real world’ context to Cochrane evidence. If you can get a patient perspective, or present a clinical scenario (in conjunction with an expert if you aren’t a topic expert) this may bring the blog to life for the reader.
Be consistent with the evidence. Even though blogs are informal and personal it is important when presenting Cochrane evidence that the results aren’t over (or under) stated.
Make sure people can access the review itself, by including hyperlinks and references.
Be conscious of keeping current. If a Cochrane review that you blogged about is updated, you might want to revisit your blog post and edit it with current information. At the very least, at the bottom of your blog page you should include "Page last updated [date]" so people can be aware of how current the information is.
Include an author profile. Most blogging platforms will require this information. It lets your audience know who is writing the blog, which can add credibility.
Ask guest authors to complete a Conflict of Interest form, and have a statement about it at the bottom of the blog with any Conflict of Interest declared. Cochrane UK uses this Conflict of Interest form as a template.
- Add pictures. Pictures may help entice your audience to read the blog. There is a store of free stock photos that can be used for Cochrane but be careful about choosing the right picture as it needs to be appropriate and sensitive. For more information on how to choose the best images for your blog, check out Cochrane's guide on Choosing Images for Sharing Evidence. In terms of branding your blog, Cochrane can help with custom banners or specific sized logos from your group. If you are interested in this help, please contact Sabrina Khamissa (email@example.com).
Top Tip! Once you have a draft of a blog post, use the dissemination checklist to improve the draft.
Additional blogging resources
The table on this webpage shows the possible format and content of blogs and how you could submit them for publication within Cochrane.
The Cochrane UK website links to some resources for writing and disseminating blogs.
- Students 4 Best Evidence have produced an infographic giving tips on writing good blogs.
Sharing your blog
Once written your blog is ready to be launched to the world! Options for sharing blogs include:
Emailing the link to people that have agreed to receive it. Think of other Cochrane groups or stakeholders who may have an interest in the topic to help disseminate your blog. We have a webpage on how to write more effective targeted emails. Some blogging platforms allow readers to sign up to receive an email when a new blog post is published.
Posting on social media or through newsletters. You can share when the blog post is first published, and in the future if the topic of the blog is receiving media attention, if there is a related event, etc. This webpage shares how to use social media platforms effectively.
- To share your blog using the Cochrane Central social media accounts, including the Comms Network Digest, contact Muriah Umoquit (firstname.lastname@example.org). This webpage shares more about the Cochrane Central communications channels.
Evaluating the effect of your blog
Knowing whether your blog is read and useful is important to determine if the time to produce it is well spent. If you are going to attempt to post translated content, it can be useful to know things like where in the world the blog is being accessed. Whilst it is relatively easy to identify how many people have accessed the blog, it is more difficult to find out if the blogs is read, digested and used. Here are some suggestions for evaluating the impact of your blog:
Blogging platforms may provide some statistics on how many people are accessing your blog.
Social media analysis may provide some information on how many people have accessed or shared the blog.
Communication with readers through the comments post or on social media may provide information on whether they find the information useful and how it might be improved. Consider capturing comments about your blogs, for example on Twitter, to use as evidence of impact.
- A survey of ‘followers’ could be considered after you have established your blog to understand who they are and how they use it.
Examples of blogs from Cochrane groups
- Cochrane Community blogs
- Cochrane UK: Evidently Cochrane
- Cochrane Mexico blog about the process of putting together their ‘Cochrane in Daily Practice’ blog
- Cochrane Mexico: ‘la práctica diaria'
- Cochrane Germany, Austria and Switzerland: Wissen Was Wirkt
- Cochrane Oral Health: Editorial base blog
- Cochrane Consumers & Communication: Evidence bulletins
- Cochrane France: Evidently Cochrane Blog