Posted by: MandyS | February 5, 2014

To blog or not to blog?

How are blogs being used to assist the publication of research?

Weller (2011) used his blog to formulate a draft for his book ‘Digital Scholar’. His reasoning being that he could gain comment and feedback about his ideas. Conole (2010) doesn’t specifically refer to the use of Blogs but considers the use of Web 2.0 in ‘innovative ways to support learning’, in particular, as a ‘communication tool to share and discuss practice’, whilst Kirkup (2010) views blogging as a ‘new genre of authoritative and accessible academic textual production’. However, Conole (2010) argues that ‘take-up’ in their use by academics is ‘limited’ citing their association with ‘social rather than professional communication’ as being a relevant factor. Kirkup (2010) considers this further in her interviews with various academics to assess the role of blogging in their own professional practice. She argues that the use of blogs can ‘enhance professional reputation’ provided they are used as a tool for ‘developing and expressing ideas’ (Blog of Ideas), rather than reflecting on working practice. She has a point; whilst I welcome opposing ideas and opinions to get the thought processes whirring, I have no interest in reading a blog of gripes.

As if by some quirk of fate, this appeared in my Twitter account:

Move to block academics blogging is outdated and stifling  by Stephen Saideman


He identifies that ‘scholars now rely on blogging’ not only to ‘share research’ but also to ‘stake claims, think aloud and help with teaching’. His view corresponds with both Weller (2011) and Kirkup (2010) that there is a ‘shift in attitude’ towards ‘professional’ blogging, which Institutions need to be attuned to.

The publication of research is no longer reliant on its being accepted by the ‘right’ journal and, as Saideman argues ‘social media is particularly useful for those who are not at the commanding heights of academia’. The purpose of research is to move thinking forward and if blogging is a means to an end in that regard then it should be wholeheartedly encouraged. Why should ideas shared online be any less authoritative than those shared on paper?


Conole, G. (2010) ‘Facilitating new forms of discourse for learning and teaching: harnessing the power of Web 2.0 practices’, Open Learning, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 141–51.

Kirkup, G. (2010) ‘Academic blogging, academic practice and academic identity’, London Review of Education, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 75–84.

Saideman, S. (2014) ‘Move to block academics blogging is outdated and stifling’ The Conversation, available at:

Weller, M. (2011) The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice, London, Bloomsbury Academic



  1. Hi

    I am on the editorial board of BJET and it takes many months to get a paper accepted never mind published so you can understand why blogs are gaining in popularity. The difference is of course that papers are peer reviewed. But you could argue that comments on blogs are peer review as well.



  2. Hi Amanda
    I like your system for easy access of others blogs, within your blog. This is a good idea to make it simpler for you and also for us – so thank you. I’d saved all the blogs as a folder but this is really good, I’m not so sure that the OU blog system would work with this – apart from perhaps if it were edited into the background information. Um – this has got me thinking (or perhaps reflecting!). The article by Saideman fits in well too and is certainly timely.

  3. Great blog page Amanda! Haven’t read the Saideman article yet. Your thoughts have triggered a ping moment (based on unconscious reflection perhaps?) that informal academic blogs may be one way of not having to ‘toe’ the university’s or funding body’s party line whereas formal papers are often more restricted.

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