Some Champion Bloggers on the Role of Academic Blogs

This post originally appeared at SAGE Connection and is reposted with permission.

Over the past decade, blogging has become an influential platform for international debate and the expression of ideas. In celebration of this, the Duckie Awards, known more formally as the Online Achievement in International Studies (OAIS) Awards, annually highlight the best blogs and online content in the field of international relations.

Following  the 2017 Duckies, SAGE Publishing — which sponsors the Duckies and is also the parent of Social Science Space — asked the winners to share their thoughts on blogging and what benefits blogging has for them and their academic field, outside of the traditional parameters in which academic debates and research are published.

Peter F. Trumbore, winner of the Best Blog (Individual) in International Studies
Peter Trumbore

I think there’s a lot to be said for social media as a platform for discussion, certainly, though not so much for debate. Spend any time in the comments section of a well-read and widely circulated blog and you’ll see little that passes for quality debate. I frankly get better interaction with the stuff that I post at my blog through people’s responses on platforms like Facebook and Twitter where I link my posts.

This is tied into the second question you pose: what do these outlets offer in extension to traditional academic publishing? The answer to that is easy. We reach a far larger, and more diverse, audience through blogs and social media.

I see my blog as more an extension of my teaching than anything else, and that in large measure is a consequence of my audience. My readers (based on subscribers, and who I can see interacting with the posts on social media) are primarily regular folks rather than fellow academics or people in the policy world. For me, then, posts are primarily about bringing my training and the insights I’ve developed through 20 years of research and teaching on international relations, to comment on, explain, sometimes entertain, but hopefully enlighten my audience about what’s going on in the world around them and why it matters.

So for me, blogging is not about sharing my own narrow and specialized research to other specialists, but rather my broader expertise to a wider community. 

Adam Morton, on behalf of winning Best Blog (Group) in International Studies
Progress in Political Economy

The editors at Progress in Political Economy (PPE) would see the platform that the blog gives to research as absolutely vital. It is not a substitute for the long and diligent process of carefully crafted research. But as a complement to academic publishing it is a vital form of public outreach through which research can be disseminated to a wider audience. There is nothing more encouraging than seeing a blog post attract a huge number of page views due to its popularity with the public and to witness that sort of impact.

The pieces published on PPE definitely match the notion of ‘triple publishing’ that combines, first, a focus on the usual standards of academic peer-reviewed publishing in journal article and monograph platforms with, second, a blog post for wider engagement on social media with such pieces that can lead, third, to an op-ed piece or commentary in the print media. PPE has indicated its strength in promoting and achieving this notion of triple publishing. As a result it strives to support academics’ work in a supportive and friendly manner to build PPE as a form of ‘appointment-reading’, every week, for political economists everywhere.

Elizabeth Saunders, winner of the Best Blog Post in International Studies
“What a President Trump means for foreign policy”

I wrote this post on the morning after the US election, when I was feeling the shock of the result as were so many others. It was helpful to me to put these thoughts down on paper, to use an analytical lens to try to make sense of what had just happened and what it might mean for foreign policy. I wasn’t really thinking so much about the effectiveness of the platform — it was really a way to try to put Trump’s election in context using my past research and experience studying leaders and foreign policy. To the extent it helped others put the election and its meaning for foreign policy in context, I am happy that it was published at the Monkey Cage and honored that it received this award.

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SAGE Publishing, the parent of Social Science Space, is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Melbourne and Washington DC.

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