In the past few weeks there has been a number of discussions on the role of blogging in scholarly communication and whether they should be included in promotion and tenure. What it comes down to is how we place blogging into our current methods for evaluating scholarly work. How does blogging fit into promotion and tenure? Is it publication, service, outreach, professional development or teaching? Or is it unique? Or is it just informal service and outreach to the public?
A recent discussion has spawned about the blog as a legitimate publication with a post-publication peer review. This started as a result of a discussion about promotion and tenure in Anthropology that took place mid-October. The talk was led by the American Anthropological Association, and the entire webinar can be accessed on their website. In response, Greg Downey wrote an “Immodest Proposal” which proposes that we support the blog as a legitimate publication. Disciplinary change comes from group action, therefore Downey proposes that we write letters of support for each other regarding the quality of blogs, value to the discipline, and scholarly rigor.
As a grad student scholar who writes well-referenced and researched blog (Bones Don’t Lie) posts twice a week, this directly affects me (as well as any of the other authors on this site or blogging grads out there). I am highly visible because of my blog, and have created a digital network of peers who often review and critique my work. At the end of this semester I will have to hand in my mid-term review to my department, which will determine my rank and funding status for next year. If the blog counts towards my scholarly accomplishments it could greatly help me with my ranking, especially if it considered a publication which is the most important contribution of a grad student here.
My blog is a publication. The question is then how to present it in a way that shows that it is a valid piece of scholarship. Dr. Ethan Watrall and I discussed this, and were able to compile a list of ways to show the rigor and merit of the blog as scholarship. To do this we need to measure the impact of the blog, show the blog in a more traditional way, and if possible, have advocates.
1. Pingbacks are citations: in the digital world if someone links to a blog post it will be traced back to your blog post as a pingback. You can use these handy things as a way to look at how people are using your blog and who it has affected. This week my pingbacks alerted me that my post on violence in Peru was an Editor’s Choice on Research Blogging.
2. Hits and comments on individual posts: Instead of noting overall posts, show the impact of each post. Present each post as a publication and show its individual impact. Also, make sure to note those posts which have well known scholars commenting. This shows your impact in a meaningful way, especially if they know the person commenting!
3. Republishing posts: Make sure you note how blogs have been reused or republished. While I post primarily on my blog, these have been reposted on the Past Horizons website. It’s important to note how your work is being used and the audiences that it is reaching.
4. Printing off blog posts with comments: It was joked about among the ProfHacker crowd that they would start printing off every blog post they had ever written and include them in their promotion file. But seriously, why not? If we print off the work and present it as a bound book it appeals to the more traditional form of scholarly publication. If you include all of your posts as a nicely presented book it’s bound to get a better reception than 200 separate pieces of paper.
5. Getting letters of endorsements and advocates: Downey suggests that the way we can change the perception of blogging from informal musings to professional publication is to write letters of endorsement for each other. Better yet, get individuals in your department to support your blog as formal publication. When your review comes up and has 200 blog posts attached to it, you are going to need someone to fight for you.
What do you think? Is it a risk to try to introduce a new form of scholarly communication to your department? Are you going to label your blog as a publication?
[Image by Flickr user Quinn Anya and used under Creative Commons license]
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From all of us at GradHacker: we hope you're having a great start to the summer. We'll be back in August!