Tag Archives: Group News

Blogging, publishing, institutions and the media

This is the fourth and final post in a series of blog posts this week taking a closer look at blogging, asking why you may want to blog (part one and part two), picking out some of what is happening in the UK blogosphere and looking at how blogging can interact with other arenas, such as the academic publishing process, institutions and the mainstream media.

An article in the latest THE – By the Blog: academics tread carefully – suggests that there is a reluctance amongst academics to write publicly and take part in the blogosphere – a topic that I’ve touched on before. But it highlights the idea that the intersection of blogging and other arenas may be a barrier to those in the academic community taking the plunge – this is probably worth a little exploration.

The academic publishing process – blogging is very different from the traditional academic process, with no peer review etc., but this brings advantages too – the ability to respond quickly to events, the chance for ideas to evolve and be improved by the wisdom of crowds, plus the freedom to change your mind! While the article is right to point out that there is a chance that research ideas may be stolen if they are shared publicly, it also raises the possibility that being the first to blog a result could lead to getting some credit for it.

Relations with institutions – there isn’t anything inherently dangerous or evil about blogging – it is just a quick and easy web publishing platform – but that does mean academics need to be as careful what they blog about, as they would be on a hand crafted web page or in a publicly archived email list – Derek Morrison’s advice that you “don’t affect the share price” in what you say online, is a fair summation of the limits of academic freedom – or the equivalent of telling students that what they say online could be read by their parents!

The media – let’s say that you are pretty keen on blogging, have been for quite a while and you get the chance to talk about it to someone from the mainstream media and apparently you say:

“Some academics are dipping their toes in the water but many aren’t entirely comfortable with using the medium to voice their opinions.”

Rather than being disappointed that the least positive thing you said about blogging is the one thing that makes it into the article or having a vague feeling that you may well have said those words, but not necessarily in that order – relax in the knowledge that as you are a blogger, you have the chance to express yourself in words of your own choosing, without being edited!

So while there are indeed pros and cons, rights and responsibilities, pluses and minuses to the world of blogging – don’t be afraid of dipping your toes in, the water’s lovely!

Intute: Social Sciences features more UK based blogs and our editors reviewed Our Favourite Social Science Blogs earlier this year, plus there are more blogs featured elsewhere on Intute.

Where are the UK academic bloggers?

Yesterday, I spent a long but exciting day at an eLearning Symposium organised by the Economics Network. The delegates were keen to learn and withstood the bombardment of Web 2.0 applications that we were telling them about. The hands-on session concentrated on blogging and it got me to wondering why aren’t more UK academics blogging?

To take economics as an example, go to a blog aggegator such as the Economics Roundtable and you will see that there are plenty of US academics blogging, but UK blogs tend to come from companies, media organisations or collaborative organisations such as VoxEU or policy focussed think tanks like the Adam Smith Institute.

From chatting to the delegates yesterday, here’s a few of the key barriers to blogging:

Time –  between lecturing, marking, research, admin, meetings etc. there are only so many hours in the day, therefore as long as blogging is just one more thing to do, then it’s entirely understandable that there is a reluctance among academics to take the plunge. However a blog that supports a course, records your ideas as you undertake a research project, archives online readings that you have come across or is even written by your students – can save you time and it may soon become a virtual notebook that is a natural part of your academic routine.

Fear – like any niche activity, blogging has it’s own jargon that can seem baffling or exclusive to those who aren’t involved. There are too many conversations between people who like technology, telling other people who like technology, how great technology is. Just sitting down with a group of academics and showing them that all it takes is an email address and 5 minutes at WordPress.com or Blogger.com to set up a blog can de-mystify the whole process. Or as one delegate put it yesterday, “If I had known it was that easy, I would have set-up a blog ages ago”.

Benefits – the potential gains from blogging may not be obvious at first glance, so it’s worth spelling them out. Brad DeLong has used the phrase “the invisible college” to represent the idea that a global community can read, comment on and improve his ideas, because he published them online. Research funders will like those who disseminate their research findings and having a blog will enable you to do that while side-stepping the mainstream media, so presenting your work as you want. Increasingly commentary is content and gaining a reputation in the blogosphere might just make your latest book a bestseller.

So what needs to change? How can we help break down those blogging barriers? Here are a few suggestions, again from those at the symposium:

  • Training – probably best supplied at the institutional level, but showing people how to get going with blogs need not take long
  • Advice – there are pros and cons to engaging with the blogosphere, as there are with any other online activity – try the Guide to Blogging in Economics
  • Support – institutions should be clear who supports this activity within their set-up and policies should remind users that the acceptable use of computing facilities applies to blogs as well

A point made by one of the delegates, was that enthusiasm from below needs to be matched by support, buy-in and resources from above – perhaps this may lead to a Chief Blogging Officer appearing at a university near you soon!

Intute: Social Sciences features more UK based blogs and our editors reviewed Our Favourite Social Science Blogs earlier this year, including our pick of the leading economics blogs, plus there are more blogs featured elsewhere on Intute.

eLearning for Economics

The Economics Network are running an eLearning Symposium tomorrow looking at a number of ways of enhancing teaching through the use of technology – it’s a follow up to their annual key contacts conference which brings in delegates from economics departments around the UK.

There are two strands to the symposium – one looking at elearning applications for economics – such as personal response systems (clickers), VLEs, tablet computers and a number of economics specific applications.

The second strand will be looking at Web 2.0 applications and their possible uses in economics teaching. I shall be eschewing my usual spheres of blogging and podcasting, which will be ably handled by my co-conspirator Bhagesh Sachania – co-author of the Guide to Blogging in Economics.

Instead I shall be concentrating on the social media applications of Web 2.0 and their use in economics teaching – so that means looking at services like Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare and FriendFeed. The slides are available below or you can click through to SlideShare.

Economics 2.0

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: economics elearning)

I shall endeavour to practice what I preach and the bookmarks are available on delicious and I may even Twitter about the event too, though I haven’t done that before.

In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment on how you think Web 2.0 can influence teaching in economics or in other subjects – either here or on the SlideShare page.

Intute: Social Sciences features more resources on the topics of economics, economics blogs and elearning.

Podcasts on video, sociology and economics

About 18 months ago, Intute: Social Sciences ran a podcast pilot of 12 episodes presenting some Social Science information news, new resources from Intute and interviews with the Social Science community.

While checking through our web stats, I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of these episodes are still being regularly downloaded.

All the Intute: Social Sciences podcast pilot episodes are available as mp3 files in the archive

Keep up to date with Intute: Social Sciences using RSS

RSS Day logoDo you have lots of websites bookmarked, but never find the time to visit them? Are you subscribed to too many email lists, but find them opinion heavy and information light? Have you got to the stage where you just want to find out what’s new on the Web? Then a simple technology called RSS may be what you are looking for.

An RSS reader brings together new content from sites you already know, into one place and saves you having to visit them all to check if they have been updated. If you want to know more about RSS, then this video may help:

… plus there are some other explanations as part of the BBC News website, the TechXtra site article RSS – a Primer for Publishers and Content Providers and our Intute: Quick Guide to Intute Newsfeeds. Or you can just start exploring by signing up for an account at Bloglines or Google Reader.

It’s not just blogs and news sites that provide RSS feeds. Academic journals provide table of contents information about their latest articles, with an excellent service provided by ZETOC, which will be of benefit to many.

May the 1st is RSS Awareness Day and to do our bit here at Intute: Social Sciences, we thought it may be worth reminding people that you can find out about the latest additions to our database using our News Channels where you can get RSS feeds for news from us, for this blog, for new Internet resources broken down by subject and for conference and event information. There is also an option within MyIntute that allows you to export your saved items as an RSS feed.

So why not give RSS a try today?

Small changes to search on Intute: Social Sciences

We have made a small change to how search works on Intute: Social Sciences. As some of you may know Intute is made up of four subject groups ourselves, Arts and Humanities, Health and Life Sciences and Science, Engineering and Technology. The default search now searches across all four subject groups and provides links to search results in other groups.

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So in the example above a search for “human rights” means you can click through to the results in Arts, Health or Science for this topic, as well as, finding resources in the Social Sciences section of Intute.

Why not try it out with some other popular searches such as social exclusion, Marx, environmental economics or blog.

We hope this mean that you get far fewer instances of searches retrieving no hits and will make you aware of some of the other great resources available on Intute. If you have any feedback on this or any other search issue on Intute, then why not get in touch.

Economics Podcasts from the Royal Economic Society

RES logoIntute: Social Sciences has been featuring a series of podcasts supporting the Royal Economic Society Conference 2008 that includes a range of interviews with researchers in economics talking about their work.

They have been produced in association with the Economics Network as part of their Why Study Economics initiative.

Topics covered include:

There is also an archive of podcasts from the 2007 RES Conference on the Economics in Action blog.

Intute: Social Sciences features more academic podcasts and more Internet resources in economics.

Favourite blogs: What kind of week has it been?

ESRC Festival of Social Science 2008 logoWelcome to Our Favourite Social Science blogs.

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 7th –16th March, Intute: Social Sciences is featuring a series of articles by our subject editors presenting their favourite blogs.

Today Paul Ayres the Section Editor for Economics and Education, looks back at our week of writing about blogs in the social sciences.

So what kind of week has it been? I hope you have enjoyed this all too brief sojourn through a compact and bijou part of the social science blogosphere. Over the last 10 days we have picked out some of our favourite blogs in a range of subjects.

Friday 7th of March: Sociology
Monday 10th of March: Psychology and Law
Tuesday 11th of March: Elections and Statistics / Data
Wednesday 12th of March: Economics and Business / Management
Thursday 13th of March: International Relations and Europe
Friday 14th of March: Politics / Government

We went with our favourite blogs for a good reason – the blogosphere is so vast that it’s difficult to be comprehensive in just a few hundred words and you will always miss someone out – though the recent Observer 50 most powerful blogs piece certainly got a lot of attention for taking a rather different approach.

However, I think that a special mention has to go to Crooked Timber which has been picked out by three of our contributors this week. The breadth of expertise on offer, the range of subjects tackled and the darned good writing, makes it hard to beat.

Just this week they have been discussing the future of current academic publishing models (and a follow-up asks academics what would change their publishing habits) with many of the points raised being equally applicable to blogging.

But what about the wider picture of blogging in academia? It seems clear to me that academics are taking blogs and blogging more seriously. ResearchBlogging.org aggregates serious academic blog posts about peer-reviewed research across a range of subjects, including a number in the social sciences. Bloggers for Peer-Reviewed Research Reporting organises this effort and includes a lively forum where issues around academic blogging are debated.

Why blog? It’s a question academics are still asking and answering amongst themselves and some of us have chimed in as well – but plenty of academics are just getting on and doing it, as the wiki at Academicblogs.org goes to prove.

Back in 2005 the old SOSIG blog got a fair bit of attention for blogging about the UK general election – less than three years later and such a development would not be remarked upon. And to me that shows how blogs and blogging have come into the mainstream, within academia and elsewhere, and perhaps the key lesson from this week is that blogs are here to stay.

You can contribute to this event by leaving a comment on any of the articles, perhaps letting us know about your favourite blogs in a particular subject or by helping expand our catalogue of academic blogs by filling in our suggest a site form.

If you would like to send some feedback about the ESRC Festival, then why not fill in their online survey.

Intute: Social Sciences features more blogs and more about blogging.

Our Favourite Social Science Blogs

ESRC Festival of Social Science 2008 logoWelcome to Our Favourite Social Science blogs.

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 7th –16th March, Intute: Social Sciences is featuring a series of articles by our subject editors presenting their favourite blogs.

With over 70 million blogs worldwide this new breed of online commentating has taken the Internet by storm and has the potential to be a significant source of information, debate and research material for social scientists.

Whether it is online sources of political gossip, an insight into the latest economic issues or how psychological research may tell you more about what you are thinking and why, let the editors at Intute: Social Sciences guide you through the Social Science blogosphere – or at least the parts of it, that we like the most.

With thousands of blogs being published by academics and many more that may be of interest to the scholarly community, this won’t be a comprehensive overview of them all, but we hope it will perk your interest in exploring further.

Each day during the Festival we shall be publishing a couple of articles looking at key blogs in a range of subjects.

Here’s what we’ve got coming up:

Friday 7th of March: Sociology
Monday 10th of March: Psychology and Law
Tuesday 11th of March: Elections and Statistics / Data
Wednesday 12th of March: Economics and Business / Management
Thursday 13th of March: International Relations and Europe
Friday 14th of March: Politics / Government and Round-up of the week

You can contribute to this event by leaving a comment on any of the articles, perhaps letting us know about your favourite blogs in a particular subject or by helping expand our catalogue of academic blogs by filling in our suggest a site form.

If you would like to send some feedback about the ESRC Festival, then why not fill in their online survey.

Intute: Social Sciences features more blogs and more about blogging.

ESRC Festival of Social Science

ESRC Festival of Social Science logoRunning from Friday 7th March to Sunday 16th March the ESRC Festival of Social Science, organised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will celebrate some of the very best British social science research, highlighting the ways in which it makes a difference to all our lives.

More than 30 UK towns and cities, from Aberdeen to Bognor Regis and Belfast to Cardiff, are hosting events during the Festival. Over 90 events are being organised during the Festival ranging from conferences to workshops and debates, exhibitions, film screenings, policy briefings and much more.

Plus if you can’t make it, there are even virtual events with one taking place here about Our Favourite Social Science Blogs.

Whether it’s school children tramping through the Peak District on a ‘Moorland Walk’ or getting to grips with why economics is important; finding out how you could save money on your energy bills or exploring the impact of Alzheimer’s, this Festival has something to capture everyone’s interest.

The Festival website includes a full programme of events, so you can find out if there is something happening near you and there are more details in the full press release.

Intute: Social Sciences features more ESRC related Internet resources.