Is Blogging Unscholarly?

The proposal of the International Studies Association to ban editors of its journals from blogging can’t be real, right? Since heavy use of blogs in policical science is already underway, the proposal is far behind the actual discussion, and looks backwards, not ahead.

Carl Straumsheim reports on “The political science blogosphere has erupted in protest after the International Studies Association unveiled a proposal to bar members affiliated with its scholarly journal from doing just that — blogging.”

Similarly, the Guardian writes: “A major academic body is proposing that editors of its journals be banned from blogging in an effort to maintain a “professional” environment.”

The proposal

“No editor of any ISA journal or member of any editorial team of an ISA journal can create or actively manage a blog unless it is an official blog of the editor’s journal or the editorial team’s journal,” the proposal says. “This policy requires that all editors and members of editorial teams to apply this aspect of the Code of Conduct to their ISA journal commitments. All editorial members, both the Editor in Chief(s) and the board of editors/editorial teams, should maintain a complete separation of their journal responsibilities and their blog associations.” (quoted from this blog)

Blogging as public engagement

The political science community has discussed blogging for a while. Daniel W. Drezner, Tufts University, was the center of a debate on academic blogging when he wrote about his tenure process at the University of Chicago in 2005. On, he now says of the proposal, “at best, it’s draconian, and at worst, an infringement of academic freedom.”

In the Guardian, Stephen Saideman, a Paterson chair at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and president of the ISA’s foreign policy analysis section, states that the proposal is “pretty antithetical to the entire academic enterprise.”

On his blog, Saideman writes further: “The real issue is not about blogging but responsibility. You want any editor to be professional and responsible, regardless of the media through which they choose to communicate. So rather than saying editors cannot blog, why not just ask them to be professional? And if you cannot trust your editors to be professional, then study some principal-agency theory to figure out how to delegate and then oversee.”

Blogging has even been discussed in academic journals

In his recent paper “Complicating the Political Scientist as Blogger“, Robert Farley, University of Kentucky, writes: “Multiple models exist under which blogging can contribute to the discipline of political science and through which political scientists can contribute to the public sphere.” (PS: Political Science & Politics, Volume 46 (2): 383-386).

[B]logging could become an important avenue for public engagement. Thus, the practice of blogging touches on a core interest of the discipline of political science, even if we have not quite recognized that it is a core interest. … [We need to accept that the technological and social transformations that have accompanied the development of the Internet have the potential to revolutionize not just political science, but the entire academy.

What Political Science Replication thinks

I find it hard to take the proposal seriously. Disussions here on reproducibility, which are sometimes not strictly professional, led to two accepted panels about reproducibility at the ISA convention in Toronto. This blog has, as many other interesting blogs, been cited in published work as a platform for exchange. More generally, discussions on reproducibility and replication have taken place on blogs by Victoria Stodden at Columbia University, the Moneky Cage, Retraction Watch and so on. These blogs provide a great service to the community. Since heavy use of blogs in policical science is already underway, the ISA proposal is far behind the actual discussion, and looks backwards, not ahead.

Read more

The proposal on

The Guardian

The Monkey Cage – an excellent political science blog.

The Duck of Minerva blog says we could introduce a code of conduct for academic bloggers.


One thought on “Is Blogging Unscholarly?

  1. […] should probably be spending my limited time working on more scholarly, professional, productive, classroom-relevant […]


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