A community of research bloggers tired of being confused with “news, politics, family, bagpipes, and so on” blogs has started its own blog at BPR3 (Bloggers for Peer-Reviewed Research Reporting). The idea is to encourage peer review bloggers to certify themselves and use an icon on their blog. We discussed earlier whether such blogs would be appropriate in Economics, along with some past experiences. Other fields seem to have some active research blogs. Do we have any blog in Economics that would qualify?
Inside HigherEd has two articles on academic blogging, one discussing how painful it is, the other how great it is. Both authors are graduate students, but they can still offer interesting perspectives to more seasoned researchers tempted by academic blogging. A few excerpts:
Over the past three years, I’ve learned what it’s like to write in a way most academics never have: namely, for an audience. If this seems like a simple point, that’s because it is. Nor is it one of those profoundly simple points, either: it’s straight simple. When a blogger sits down to slave on her dissertation, article, or book, she doesn’t turn her back on the public sphere. Because in the end, the public sphere is us.
I’m talking about the communities we currently have, only five years in the future, when we’re scattered around the country, unable to communicate face-to-face, but still connected, still intellectually intimate, because we’ll still regularly be engaged with each other’s thoughts. But I’m not only talking about us. There’s no reason our community needs to consist solely of people we knew in grad school. Why not write for people who don’t already how you think about everything? Why not force yourself to articulate your points in such a way that strangers could come to know your thought as intimately as your friends from grad school do?
More than formatting issues, however, I think that everyone needs to realize that having a productive conversation in an online format is very hard work, which is why it happens so rarely. Many bloggers can point out online conversations in which they were pushed to think in a new direction or got genuinely valuable feedback on a question, but as with all human endeavors, there is a high percentage of dross to go along with the occasional gold. Policing comments is a difficult job, and efforts to keep conversations on-topic or ensure that contributors have some substantial knowledge to share will often cause resentment in light of the “democratic” leanings of online communities. All this is on top of the obvious problems with online interaction as opposed to in-person conversations.
As more and more academic resources become available online, hopefully academic blogs will begin to fill a role analogous to the political blogs that link to and comment on particular news stories — that is, bringing new scholarly research to the attention of an interdisciplinary audience. I hope that events like this will help to push more journals toward open-access electronic formats. Failing that, however, academic blogs seem to me to be best-suited as a social outlet for academics who would otherwise feel isolated, creating camaraderie and supplementing the social aspects of disciplinary conferences.
There is also a discussion on this topic on the blog of the Association of College & Research Libraries.
The RePEc blog does not consider itself to be part of the research blog community, indeed our focus is not research but the dissemination of research. Hence, we are interested in understanding the feasibility and the interest in research blogs in Economics. And if any research blogs appear (or already exist) in Economics, RePEc would be more than happy to feature them on this blog and possibly elsewhere.