Posted by: ayrshirehealth | July 9, 2014

Jings, crivvens and help my blog! by @rwatson1955

The blog debate 2014

Austyn Snowden has thrown the first punch in the great blog debate of 2014; I felt the wind but it didn’t connect. If Austyn is shocked at the thought of academics deriving methods for citing blogs, he’d better be sitting down right now: I think blogging represents a new form of scholarship if not ‘the’ new form of scholarship. Scholarship

OK – where’s the evidence that blogging changes anything? Probably non-existent, but I get the impression that a great deal of my scholarship—published in peer reviewed journals and much of it freely available on the internet—probably changes nothing. From the lack of the Rolls Royce in the drive (in fact, I even lack a drive) my ten plus books, edited and authored, appear to have changed little, including my bank balance.

I have a respectable h-index and a few thousand citations from my several hundred publications, but the mean level of citations remains at 4.74/article. Not much to show for 25 years in academia.

But wait till you hear about my blogs!

I started blogging reluctantly; reluctant only because I had no idea what a blog was. First I started on Twitter, again reluctantly. The reluctance regarding Twitter was also related to not understanding what it was about. Twitter

However, an alien looking at a swimming pool would have little idea what it was for until it saw what others were doing and tried it too…and found it enjoyable. Twitter is perfect for a committed and argumentative self-publicist like me…but 140 characters?…was there an online medium whereby I could give vent to my views more expansively?…blogging beckoned like a light at the end of a tunnel.

And the opportunity to put myself ‘out there’ by this means was too much to resist.

Blog 2So what is a blog? A blog can be anything you want it to be: your own self-opinionated website; a place to post useful information; a newsletter that is easy to update; and an educational tool. The beauty of blogging is its sheer flexibility, the ease with which information can be put up (for example, and by contrast, have you ever tried creating a Wikipedia page?), also the ease with which it can be edited and, if you’ve changed your mind or are being pursued for defamation of character, deleted.

I run numerous blogs on behalf of myself, my faculty and my journals. In little over two years our faculty Research and scholarship blog has been viewed 17199 times; the Journal of Advanced Nursing blog—where we put up profiles of the editorial team and highlight selected papers—has been viewed 8543 times; my Homeopathy and other b*ll*cksblog has been viewed 718 times (could do better in my view); my Mokken scaling and item response theory blog has been viewed 1167 times; and—I hope Austyn is prepared to be impressed—my Four things about…(a simple approach to anatomy and physiology) blog—complete with links to my online lectures—has been viewed 95553 times (all stats derived on 28 May 2014).

To extend the swimming pool analogy: Austyn, get your kit off and jump in. You won’t get an invitation like that every day.

This week’s blog was by @rwatson1955 (Roger Watson PhD RN FAAN), Professor of Nursing, University of Hull, UK | Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Advanced Nursing [and ex-Ayrshire boy] – email:


  1. Ha ha ha, love it…..

  2. Totally love it! … and very inspiring.. lets get blogging!

  3. I shall of course not go genital into that dark night 🙂 However I’ll give you all a chance to tell me what I think are the three fundamental flaws with Roger’s response first…back next Tuesday xxx

    • Hi Austyn

      Last year I wrote a blog about my blog:
      I felt quite uncomfortable about it at the time, and was very afraid that I would completely disappear up my own bum.

      May I be so bold to refer you to the “So What?” section of the post?

  4. I love this blog, should have read it before going to work today and it would have cheered my day up. I’ll have a happy evening though. Wonder what your stats will look like in the next 72 hours Roger?!. Maybe that Rolls Royce ( or even some tarmac) might not be that far away?

  5. Love the blog debate! Await the next instalment with baited breath and would love to hear some of Derek’s stats!

  6. Brilliant blog – a gentle shove for all of us to the end of the diving board and the deep?

  7. Great blog.
    I recently took up the Patient Opinion Coordinator Role and is similar to blogging by its very public nature. I came from the OH, NO look how many people have read that! Yes, that is its strength and possibly the noose you hang by, but powerful? Oh yes. Keep blogging!!

  8. It may be helpful to spell properly though! You may not have a driveway; I thought I could spell my own name, apparently not. (Actually I think it is tying I can’t do!)

  9. […] Jings, crivvens and help my blog! by Roger Watson on the Ayrshire Health Blog […]

  10. Well I’m not sure how far we’ve all got. Some responses to accused me of being a snob, over thinking (!), or being inappropriately prepared for the jungle (whatever that is in a virtual world). All very predictable and largely true. But then I found out Roger and I had generated the highest viewing figures for this blog in the whole of human history and I must confess I found that a little exhilarating. Not much, but a bit. Enough to get an avatar anyway. Hope you like him.

    But this blogging business doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t like the lack of evidence. Maybe I should lighten up and just join in, but I know I won’t. I understand what everyone’s saying, but I just don’t feel it. Unlike Roger I don’t find it enjoyable. I’d rather be doing something else. I’m a researcher not an evangelist and find the whole thing bemusing, as I think I should. My kit remains firmly on, and I’m sure there will be many grateful for that!


    • Austyn

      It is with deep regret, or as much as I can actually muster, to inform you that neither your blog nor Roger’s blog were the highest for readers, on Ayrshirehealth. I suspect therefore your claim of worldwide fame and acclimation may be a tad over enthusiastic.

      I saw the comment re you being a snob and found it unhelpful and disappointing, it added nothing to the debate/discussion.
      It reminds me, unfortunately of the some aspects of the current referendum debate, where both sides resort to name calling rather than a cogent argument on the issues. I fundamentally disagree with you re blogging, but since I also know you, I also know that ‘snob’ isn’t a term that can be applied to you – misguided or unenlightened perhaps, but snob!! absolutely not.

      Why misguided I hear you ask (ok, that bit was my imagination). Misguided, in my opinion, as I think the arguments you pursue re bloggers writing for or engaging with other bloggers is equally applicable to those of us (ie you and I) who write for peer reviewed journals with all the point scores and rankings that we (non academic dwellers ie me) know little about and care even less about. Indeed the ‘writing for publication’ workshops you and I have ran (or is it run?) taught that very thing – know your audience and write ‘for’ them.

      The argument therefore, is circular. You write for an audience you want to engage with and bloggers write for a much wider audience that they want to engage with; and a potential audience more likely to change or be influenced by a blog.

      In 30 years as a nurse it has been rare that someone has said, or that I’ve said, here’s a fabulous article let’s change what we are doing because if it. Not unheard of, but rare.

      Both this blog and the newly started blog by Fiona McQueen ( are spoken about in the dining rooms and in wards and departments. Staff from across the staff range (not just clinical) have spoken to both Fiona and I about the content of the blogs, about feeling nearer to leaders, about enjoying sharing thoughts. Culture (again a rather intangible concept), is more likely to change (albeit not easily measured) because of nearby approachable leadership, which the blog is ONE element of, than anything I’ve ever written in an article.

      Some facts – your blog has been read 240 times since it was published, Roger’s has been read 330; the top blog on Ayrshirehealth has been read 1,675 times. The highest daily readership we’ve had is 465, yours topped out around 110 with Roger’s at 150 – for comparison the highest on Fiona’s blog is 1,015, the highest on DGHealth is over 600. Which all goes to show … well, nothing actually of you ask our improvement scientists since we have measured change or improvement. Out of interest – the articles you and I have written would also fail the test of measuring pre and post change. Oops, another one of your arguments appears somewhat hollow.

      We know which countries the blog has been read in, this indicates spread and potential engagement. The number of comments on the blog site helps demonstrate actual engagement – alongside people commenting face to face.

      So what ?

      Do I expect or ask you to change?

      No, I don’t; I do however expect that my local university to be a place open to change, open to ‘new’ ways of doing things, somewhere that innovation occurs that will support my colleagues and I on delivering excellence. In that regard my expectation would be you embrace and understand that in the digital 21st century there are multiple ways, of equal, albeit different avenues in teaching, sharing, influencing and learning – in the same way that I know what the heart does, but I’m not a cardiac nurse, I’d be rather foolish to say the heart doesn’t exist or it serves no useful purpose – the same applies to blogging, it’s not your thing, but ….

      You may not want to get into the pool, but at least sit and have a coffee at the side.


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