Comparing two publication channels – academic journals and blogs

by Frances Bell, CC3.0 Unported

Henry Jenkins by Tamaleaver CC by 2.0

Journals on shelves

Journals on Shelves by Bezanson CC by 2.0


I am going to throw out a few initial ideas about comparing academic journals and blogs as publication channels, as a kick off to a writing project I’ll be doing with Cristina Costa.

Let me start by saying that it is very difficult to generalise about either academic journals or blogs as channels since they are each in a state of flux, changing and interpreted differently  by different users and audiences. This post has been provoked by recent discussion on peer review and journals within my (albeit limited) network.  The issues that interest me are:

  • development of research and writing
  • the role of peer review and editing
  • dissemination of research

Obviously, I will be collaborating with Cristina and we will both improving our review of the literature to find what is already known on the subject.

development of research and writing

Blogs can play a role in the development of academic writing.  An author can try out ideas and get feedback.  I have tried this myself  (but can’t point to the posts as they are sadly lost) on a paper I wrote for Networked Learning 2010.  Also I recall a learning developer who posted successive drafts of an essay on their blog in response to readers’ feedback (would love the link to this if anyone has it). I think the intention of this was to reveal the sometimes messy journey of writing rather than to recommend this as a method of writing.

I see writing as a process with a product that emerges from privacy to publication with more eyes seeing and commenting along the way. A tweet may take only a minute to write but increasingly this text is wraparound/trigger to click a link to another text /multimedia artifact such as a blog post or video created over a much longer period.

There are different styles of blogging and plenty of tips on how to do it and writing for different audiences is very useful for an author’s toolkit.

Writing an article for a scholarly journal is likely to be a much more lengthy process with commenting and revisions emerging from the exchanges between authors, reviewers and editor(s) not all which are ‘public’ in the sense the article itself is.  The process for rejected articles is private with no publication endpoint. Journals with a commitment to the development of their authors will try to ensure that peer review is as much about development as about selection/ rejection.  I am interested in the role that blogging and other social media can play in writing development.

the role of peer review and editing

Journal peer review can be double blind (where neither reviewer nor authors are known to each other – though it is sometimes possible for them to guess each others’ identities); single blind where the reviewers know the authors’ identities but they remain anonymous to authors.  Usually peer review remains a relatively private exchange with comments and responses sent by email.  Different levels and types of openness are possible.  JIME, Journal of Interactive Media Education conducted very interesting dialogic review  and I am interested to research into evaluations of that and similar approaches.  I do know that reviewing can help writers develop, and that editing has had an impact on my reviewing and my writing.

I was also interested in Alan Cann’s experiment with open review but  think that much more work needs to be done to tease out more and less effective methods of using feedback to develop writing. I am not at all convinced by Doug Belshaw’s linkage of transparency to better in relation to peer review (see last sentence).

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4 thoughts on “Comparing two publication channels – academic journals and blogs

  1. Pingback: Über das wissenschaftliche Denken und den Austausch… « juergenalbers

  2. By the same token, academic writing can play a role in development of blogs. It all depends where the focus of one’s attention happens to be at the time.
    Blogs are as widely differentiated as books in their content. Some are presented in a scholarly way, and to the appropriate readership. However, i think that even those which are a chronicle of ordinary domestic life would benefit from more attention to language skills!

  3. Pingback: Comparing two publication channels – academic journals and blogs | Daily Nuggets |

  4. Audience counts in both realms. I tend to think of blogs/journals as opposite ends of a spectrum with many points in between. Categories / intended audience are another way to compare. Some categories do not have journal counterparts. Most, however, do have counterparts in some form of hard copy publication. If we don’t read the hard copy versions, chances are we won’t be interested in the blog iterations either.

    In “serious” areas, ~ academic, education, specific disciplines ~ the ends of the spectrum often share more with one another than with other categories of their own kind.

    Some serious blogs are delights to read. Others are presented in such a way as to drive off all but the most determined academic readers. On the other, maintaining a blog for an academic advocacy group, I am continually plagued by posts from published academics who can’t bother to proof read before clicking the publish button.

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