Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blogging as active research -- part II

I continue to work on my ideas for a research study for this semester. I'm feeling a little better about the endeavour now that I've decided to focus on blogs. I'm also feeling better about the whole thing after finding the published work of Torill Mortenson and Jill Walker.

Their paper Blogging thoughts: personal publication as an online research tool (PDF), Chapter 11 of Researching ICTs in Context is full of provocative thoughts on the role of blogging for academics and the opportunities it provides for publishing and sharing academic research.

As I struggle with the design of my own research study for this semester, I found the authors' thoughts on "academic writing" to be enlightening -- especially their prescription for writing "in the humanities and social sciences" and that an "academic article" must contain:

a) References to theory, preferably updated, focused, wide enough to display a healthy variety to our reading but not so wide that we can be accused of being shallow.

b) References to empiric data, or the object of our research. This should have enough status that we can justify spending our valuable time on it, eith through being a classsic, being something entirely new, or being popular enough to have social significance.

c) An original and spirited discussion of how a) relates to b). (p. 261)

The authors also go on to tell us that the profile of the "modern researcher" has changed.
The modern researcher is not quite the old man in a dusty, smoky study behind a labyrinth of books, unable to relate to the rest of the world. Research is supposed to be related to contemporary topics, and preferably lead to results tha can give new insights to more than a narrow group of specialists. (p. 261)

I'm especially interested in some of the phenomenon that Mortenson and Walker see at work in their 2002 consideration of blogging and how the medium has grown and changed since. Indeed, because both continue to blog, we can track developments in their thinking and practices related to the "blogsphere" and the topics broached in the paper.

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