In this blog post, we will review the expectations for topics and submission for Social Work with Digital Technology, the peer-reviewed blog for the Institute for Healthy Engagement and Resilience with Technology, at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work’s Buffalo Center for Social Research.
First, you will need to hone your topic down to one or two key points. Your blog post should be between 1000 and 1500 words in length, not including references. Getting focused on key points can be daunting, especially if you have a “big picture” view in your mind. After all, a problem can be looked at and broken down any number of ways, so consider the following structural guidelines as you start to develop your ideas into the blog post.
First, think about the situation. About what, exactly, do you hope to communicate?. What is the practical context of your topic? Is your topic relatable to others at a general level? What salient point are you hoping to convey to an audience? Think of this as the “what” and “why” of your blog post.
Next, define the problem or challenge. Rather than a simple list of thoughts or ideas, frame how these ideas capture the conflict that motivates you to write. As we noted earlier, this may be a conflict rooted in a “big picture” point of view, so your blog post will need to be focused accordingly on specific elements of the problem, so the reader doesn’t get lost or confused. You are providing a meaningful solution that relates directly to that problem. That’s why being clear about the problem is important.
If possible, you should go beyond just describing a solution to how this solution can be evaluated. This will make the solution actionable on some level, which will resonate more deeply with the reader. For example, consider how the solution relates to equity, inclusion, power and oppression. Consider how this call to action leads to further steps the reader can take. What additional or “next steps” do you advise? What further reading do you recommend? What connections to public groups should the reader make?
Speaking of the reader - keep in mind who the audience will be. We anticipate the core audience for this blog will be social work students, practitioners, researchers, and academics. Keep this primary audience in mind. In addition, think of a close friend, for example, who does not work in the same area of practice you do. Would your writing be meaningful to them? Is your blog post free of the jargon or short-hand that tends to appear in writing to a narrow group of practitioners? We want this blog post to be understandable to people beyond our primary audience. Do not assume concepts are clear to everyone. Define the terms you use.
You are writing from your perspective, so a first-person narrative is appropriate. In fact, be sure to write yourself into your blog post. This is not a textbook chapter (Hooray!). Consider how you are personally invested in the topic. The more you relate yourself to the topic, the more meaningful it will be to the audience. Of course, this is more important if you are writing a review, reflection, or commentary. A summary of research will likely rely less on your use of subjective self.
Regardless, be sure to pose a question in the blog post. This invites the reader to engage in your writing. This may be a way to emphasize your topic, or just start the engagement with the topic on which you are about to expand. Finally, a call to action may fit your intent. What should the reader consider relevant about your submission? Where should they go next? Who are the authors, researchers, or practitioners they should know about? What’s the action step the reader should communicate to their policy leader? Whatever it may be, make sure your reader does not stop with the last word of your blog post.
For more details on how to submit your blog to Social Work with Digital Technology, check out the submission guidelines here.