This page is a modified version of the UC Office of Scholarly Communications blog scope and guidelines 
CONDUIT blog scope
Pieces for the CONDUIT blog can cover a variety of topics in the field of scholarly communication.
The University of California San Diego Library’s Scholarly Communication focuses on monitoring and synthesizing significant developments in scholarly communication with particular emphasis on implications for the UC San Diego academic community. As such, the CONDUIT blog:
- Serves as a resource for the analysis of current and emergent topics in this area, including: the transformation of publishing and distribution models, the development of new value metrics, data publication and open data, the economics of open access, etc.;
- Coordinates and provides access to existing educational resources (and supplements with new guides or statements) on rights management and open access, including UC’s Open Access Policy;
- Description and commentary regarding local or national policies and legislation, and establishes guidelines and procedures for the creation of such statements.
AUDIENCES AND TYPES OF POSTS
CONDUIT aims to reach readers outside of UC San Diego and beyond the field of scholarly communication specialists. Because of who we are, our posts will often be of particular interest to one or the other of those groups, but we are especially excited about posts that:
- Engage non-library stakeholders in the scholarly communication system, e.g. researchers, graduate students, faculty, and administrators;
- Address hot topics or start conversations, e.g. “Should I use ResearchGate?,” “Can I include parts of other people’s work in my dissertation?,” “Do open access policies make a difference?”
- Inform our stakeholders of opportunities or obstacles in conducting scholarly communication.
We welcome a wide variety of post types, think pieces, and position statements (See the University of California Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) and the University of California Libraries statement on free and open information)
PLANNING A POST
Choosing a topic that you want to write about and we want to publish is the first step. Next we’ll work with you to flesh out a little more detail: a brief precis for things towards the end of the list above like a think piece, or an outline for the things towards the beginning of the list, like answering hot topic questions. Then we’ll agree on a deadline that allows time for revision and formatting while still meeting the targeted publication date. We’ll send reminders as that deadline approaches to make sure we’re still on track.
Once you have a draft, we’ll add it to the CONDUIT Google Drive folder. Google Docs supports change tracking, suggestions, and commenting, and we’ll use that to provide feedback and work with you to finalize the piece, including checking for or adding:
- A strong opening sentence (or three) that tell the audience generally what the post is about.
- A hook in the first paragraph or two that makes people curious. This will help us figure out where to put the Read More tag; only text preceding the Read More tag will appear on CONDUIT’s All Posts page.
- An eye-catching headline that fits in a tweet. This will help us (and you) promote your post on social media.
- An image to accompany the post. Not all posts need images, but it helps with social sharing. If you’ve got an image in mind already, that’s great. All Creative Commons or Public Domain images are welcome, as is your own work. Additional images, tables, charts, etc. should be integrated at this point too. Everything should include attribution. Please contact us if you need locating an image or formatting the attribution.
- Your name, title, and affiliation. You may include 1-2 sentences at the end of the post explaining who you are and what you do. Please consider linking to your posts on a faculty or individual webpage, LinkedIn, or other professional profile that you may have.
When the text and images are finalized, we’ll move the post into the CONDUIT WordPress site, add the necessary WordPress formatting, and publish it.
To answer a couple frequently asked questions:
- We’re a CC BY site. You retain copyright ownership. You are welcome to republish your work elsewhere, but we ask for first or simultaneous publication.
- We don’t have a minimum or maximum length. Address the subject at whatever length is appropriate – but keep in mind the general guidelines below about writing for the web, where readers’ attention spans are short.
WRITING FOR THE WEB
Write with empathy and simplicity
“Assume the reader knows nothing. But don’t assume the reader is stupid.”
– Anne Handley
CONDUIT often takes on the complex topics that must be made approachable for a possibly uninitiated audience. Some readers may be familiar with scholarly communication norms, problems, and terminology, but others may be encountering these issues for the first time. This does not mean that the reader needs an essay on the history of scholarly publishing. Instead, provide context when appropriate and write with the reader’s perspective in mind. Some ways to do this:
- Give examples to illustrate the application of abstract policies/concepts.
- Define concepts and acronyms when they are first introduced on a page.
- Ask yourself, “Does this post clearly answer a question? Can I move that answer closer to the top of the page?”
Reader attention spans are short. They are visiting a website to quickly answer a question or see if your post is relevant enough to their work to merit a careful read, or to share with peers. Brevity promotes comprehension and shows you respect a reader’s time.
Some tips on keeping it short:
- Sentences should be 25 words or less. After 25 words, sentences become harder to read and retain. If you have a sentence over that number, find a way to say it in two sentences. Or, better yet, three.
- Eliminate unnecessary words. Which could have been, “You should try to avoid using non-essential words when writing for the web,” but I bet you tuned out halfway through that sentence.
- Don’t worry about being concise on your first draft. First, write down your idea at length, without editing during the process. After you have your idea on paper, examine it for bloat and length, then edit it down.
If you believe a topic warrants greater detail or explanation, include links to additional resources or consider breaking down one post into multiple posts.
Be scannable: Organize content with titles, headings, highlighting, and bullets
“In research on how people read websites we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.”
-Jakob Nielsen, How Users Read on the Web
Writing in a way that is easy for readers to scan can present a special challenge when writing about complex topics, which is when well-written titles and headings can be especially important.
- Titles and headings should be clear, descriptive, and include keywords that are important to the subject of your page.
- Headings are not just for the top of a page. Well-structured content will be peppered with headings and subheadings throughout. This breaks up the content and adds white space, which makes it easier for readers to scan for key information.
- Well-placed bullets also make content more readable. If you are describing a process or listing items, put them in a bulleted list (or a numbered one, if the items are sequential.)
- Titles and headings also have a hidden benefit: they make it easier for search engines to index your pages and surface them in search results. When you use headings, we can make sure that they are marked up with the correct HTML tags (<title>, <h1>, <h2>, etc.) when formatted in WordPress. These tags help the search engine crawl your page, and are also essential for making your content accessible to screen readers.
Blogs are generally less formal than academic writing. If you’re comfortable with a more conversational tone, it can make your writing more approachable to readers. We encourage you to:
- Use “you” and “your.” Academic writing often avoids the second person. The CONDUIT blog does not.
- Write with an active voice. This makes your writing concise, direct, and energetic. It also cuts out extra verbiage that can drag down your sentences.
- Show, don’t tell. Use tables and diagrams to illustrate complex topics whenever possible. Tables and diagrams give content breathing room and help draw the reader’s eye to important information; think of them as a the flashier cousins of titles, headings, and bulleted lists.
|Use tables to…||Use diagrams to…|
|Compare sets of information / data||Show workflows or processes|
|Present lists that contain longer items||Visually present information / data|
|Present instructions or documentation||Illustrate complex concepts|
To contact us, email scholcomm [at] ucsd [dot] edu