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'Using few words to say a lot – that’s the art of blogging'

Many Humanities scholars keep a blog of their own. This summer, we’re putting these in the spotlight. For this week’s interview, we sat down with Annemarie van Sandwijk, editor in chief of the Leiden Islam Blog.

What is the blog's goal?

The goal is twofold: on the one hand, we want to apply our expertise to current events; on the other, we aim to share research results about Islam and society that don’t reach the general public. The desire to have our own medium through which to share research and substantiated opinions is what made us launch the blog in 2012.  

Is it purely informative or also opinion?

The Leiden Islam Blog is both. Types of posts vary from background pieces to analyses and op-eds. The biggest requirement is that the post stands on its own and is free of jargon and endless references – it has to be accessible. We want to give researchers the opportunity to let their voices be heard freely.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from blogging?

Contributors need to be reminded whom they’re writing for: not just colleagues, but a much broader audience. They sometimes underestimate the work that goes into ‘translating’ a scientific paper into a shorter piece that’s suited for the blog. I enjoy keeping my eye on that and helping them adjust where needed. Using few words to say a lot – that’s the art of blogging.  

What blog accomplishment are you most proud of?

Let me share a statistic: we’ve had more than 3 million views overall, our most-read post being a piece by Erik-Jan Zürcher. Since our launch almost 4 years ago, we’ve published 112 blog posts by 68 authors.

If you could hand out an award to any other blog, which one would get it?

Pat Thomson’s blog on academic writing. One of her posts is a wonderful plea for the value of blogging, presented in seven powerful points aimed at academics.



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