Blogging and Academia

As a young(ish) economist, I frequently worry about whether blogging is positive, neutral, or negative for one’s professional standing. Three recent sets of writings take differing views.

  • In an IEA discussion paper, Daniel Klein emphasises the professional cost of participating in policy debates for economists (the paper is directed at libertarians, but it might as well be written for all economists).
  • By contrast, a recent discussion on academic blogging argues that it can be good for one’s academic reputation. The contributors are mostly historians and philosophers.
  • Meanwhile, John Quiggin discusses the ways in which blogging has broadened his interests; though he doesn’t say much about how it’s affected his academic work.
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3 Responses to Blogging and Academia

  1. Sinclair Davidson says:

    I spent four hours yesterday in a focus group on open-access and scholarly publishing etc. Blogging came up briefly. The view was that if validation mechanisms could be ‘transferred’ to blogs (somehow) they would become more valuable. Further, a generational change would occur. At a personal level, I find reading blogs improves my thinking.

  2. Michael says:

    Andrew,

    Any form of discussion is good. I do enjoy reading this Blog inparticular. Probably because I feel it pitched at my level. It is hard to see how it could or should be considered bad thing for ones reputation.

    Mike

  3. Don says:

    It all depends who you’re trying to impress and what kind of reputation you want.

    As a blogger and op-ed writer Quiggin reaches all kinds of people who’d never read his books or scholarly papers. He seems to have deliberately made the transition from academic expert to intellectual.

    Has this come at a cost? Maybe. It’s possible that some academic colleagues may resent the attention he gets. And I remember that (bad) Peter Saunders showed up in a comments thread once and grumbled something about experts sticking to their area of expertise.

    There’s a view amongst Hayek-influenced think tank types that there’s something disreputable about people who make a reputation as experts in a particular field and then use their access to the media to comment on other issues (eg physicists who offer advice on world peace).

    People like Posner or Becker get around that problem by expanding their definition of economics so that it encompasses anything they might care to comment on.

    And then there’s Galbraith. After all those books he probably had a better reputation with the general public than he did with academic economists (or anyone who remembers ‘The New Industrial State’).

    Somehow, Andrew, I get the feeling that want professional standing partly so that you can use it to leverage your reputation outside the discipline. Am I wrong?

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