Stephen Downes (link) has shared in his daily newsletter a Ben Werdmuller post (link) about blogging. I read Stephen’s summary and Ben’s post with great interest.

It renewed for me my thoughts about how we use social media to share ideas. And how we might cite such sources as authentic, valid and reliable sources. I have spent a great deal of time recently looking at the literature about performance analysis and performance analytics. I am struck by how such a vibrant literature pays scant attention to social media as reference points.

Back in 2011, Jason Priem and Kaitlin Costello (link) noted that “scholars are increasingly using the microblogging service Twitter as a communication platform”. They added “Twitter citations are part of a fast‐moving conversation that participants believe reflects scholarly impact”. I do think it is the fast-moving activity that needs to be considered in terms of journal publication. I imagine it also requires a willingness on the part of referees to accept these citations. Historically, these are not people who have tweeted or blogged.

Monash University advises students “Blogs are NOT acceptable academic sources unless as objects of research”. They add “Blogs may give credence to opinion, in some cases with supporting evidence” (link). In 2012, the LSE Impact blog (link) “academic blogging is a burgeoning area of knowledge exchange that seeks to assist with the dissemination of substantive research and analysis. For those wishing to cite our articles we recommend the following format”:

Terras, M. (2012) The Verdict: Is blogging or tweeting about research papers worth it? LSE Impact Blog 19 April 2012 (Accessed 22/05/2012).

In June 2017, Carlos Arrebola took a look at the increasing frequency with which LSE blog posts were being cited in scholarly publications (link). Carlos noted “it was not surprising to find during the course of our project that LSE blog posts are regularly cited by academics”. He adds “The use of LSE blog posts as sources reflects a further element of impact on the academic sphere of our blogs, as new types of academic publications that appear to sit alongside traditional journal articles and books”.

APA has a style guide for social media (link). The guide notes “You may want to cite examples or mention these popular sites in a research paper, but most likely you will not use these sites exclusively in a research paper”. I think the exclusivity issue is very important. Ironically, some published journal articles over-rely on single published sources. I can imagine research methods classes around the world are actively debating how a variety of sources can be used to enrich articles. As readers and writers, each of us make decisions about the threats to the internal and external validity posed by our research endeavours (link).

Stephen and Ben

Stephen’s indicated in his newsletter that he endorsed “pretty much everything Ben Werdmuller says about blogging in this post”. He added that what he found important was Ben’s observation “When you blog, you’re building up a body of work that represents you online. It’s a gateway into your thought process more than anything else”. Ben concludes that blogging has been “hugely important in my personal life, too. I couldn’t recommend it more.” Stephen concurs with this and so do I. I have always seen my blog posts as my thinking out aloud and to do so that values validity and reliability from a qualitative perspective.

Ben recommends:

  • A writing ethic: how to actually write and feel OK about putting it out there in the world.
  • The blogging platform: how to sustainably host a website that looks good and reflects on them well.

My platform of choice is WordPress and I have used this blogging platform since 2009. With regard to posts, Ben observed “You quickly learn that, although your posts will be live on the web forever, they’re also ephemeral. People move onto the next thing quickly” (my emphasis). My hope is that some of the detailed research I have done has a longevity. I trust this is particularly the case with my historical research and with some of my performance analyses.

Ben concludes “People email me about things I’ve written all the time. My posts have led to newspaper and magazine features. They’ve led to jobs. And most importantly for me, they’ve led to friends”. I do think this friendship is a key aspect of blogging. The moment you write a post you become part of a community of practice.

I particularly like the immediacy of blogging and the challenge that arises at the point of reading. I have set my blog up to moderate all comments before they are published. To date I have had almost 2000 conversations about Clyde Street posts. Whenever I write, I am mindful that I am just one voice amongst millions. But it is a voice … and I take that to be the essence of blogging.

Photo Credit

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash


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