The agricultural economist Jayson Lusk has a great habit: when he authors a newly published piece of research, he often blogs about what he was trying to accomplish with that research as well.
He’s also very busy. In addition to being the head of Purdue University’s agricultural economics department, Lusk
- does media interviews;
- publishes op-eds;
- guests on podcasts;
- gives lots of talks to academic and industry audiences;
- serves on journal editorial boards; and
- has written (by my count) five books, including two for non-specialists (The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto about the Politics of Your Plate and Unnatural Delicious: How Science and Technology are Serving Up Super Foods to Save the World).
Yes, very busy.
But not too busy to blog.
Look at Lusk’s latest post — “Why Don’t We Vote Like We Shop?” — to see how he does it for a piece of his own research.
It’s not fancy. He just goes through the paper. He explains the research question (in essence, “why do people vote for measures they won’t pay extra for in their shopping decisions?”) and methodology and how they reached their conclusions. He talks about which hypotheses he was most excited to test. He finishes up with what they learned, what they didn’t and what it means.
This research still doesn’t explain why the vote-buy gap exists, he writes — but it confirms it exists and “is at the heart of the so-called consumer vs. citizen phenomenon…people adopt more public-minded preferences when in the voting booth but rely on more selfish motives when shopping privately.”
Money quote: “In our study we can compare each individual’s shopping choice to their own vote…80% of people switch.”
What are the benefits to Lusk of blogging like this? In no particular order:
- Messaging for his paper, in case media are interested in it;
- More control over how media might interpret the paper (because he’s pre-interpreted the findings);
- Search value for the ideas in the paper outside the journal paywall;
- Refining his ability to explain a research process clearly to non-specialists;
- Adding to the high cadence of Jayson Lusk content that his email list gets — building his presence, the idea that’s he’s everywhere;
- A link for social media;
- Material for a future book, perhaps;
- Material for a new talk;
- Building, post by post, in addition to all his other activities, a wider audience for Lusk as an expert.
Lusk also blogs about food trends and other food and agricultural economics research. Read his post “The Coming Meat Wars” for an incredibly rich example. Then try imagining doing that on Twitter.
Indeed: this practice builds a different muscle than does social media — the slow-twitch muscle of authority. Authority = expertise with a POV building an audience through compelling arguments and useful analyses.
Jayson Lusk isn’t too busy to continue to build his authority.
What’s holding you or your researchers back?