Posting your work in progress on research blogs

Sandrine Berges (9 March 2012)

I've recently become part of a couple of blogs run by people like myself who work in a specific area of philosophy. Part of the purpose of those blogs is to publicise calls for papers, new books, conferences, etc. They're also a good forum for discussing current affairs that affect us, academic politics, jobs, and such like. But we do post the odd short text, sometimes an extract from something longer, or sometimes just a quick argument. Then in the feedbacks we get comments.

I've always been a bit skeptical about this, as the comments are bound to be a bit limited and quick, but I now find that people who go to these blogs tend to weigh their words fairly carefully before they post a comment, so that the ensuing debate is actually worthwhile and may end up advancing somebody's research.

Does it matter whether it's from people you know or not?

What is your experience posting work online? Do you get interesting feedback? Does it matter whether it's from people you know or not?


Simon Smith
I've recently been thinking about this, too, Sandrine, partly because I plan to make much more use of online outlets for dialogue with other researchers as well as with 'user' communities (in this case journalists) during the research I'll be doing when my Fellowship begins. I'm quite conservative by nature, because I generally feel I need to let ideas develop in my own thoughts for some time before I want to share them, so it's going to be a challenge. But I must say I found these reflections from Mark Carrigan inspiring. 'Continuous publishing' is the name he's coined for his approach.

Mark Hodgkinson
I would not be allowed to do this because I am a member of a collaboration with rather strict disclosure polices....

However within that collaboration we certainly do use many online tools to communicate ideas and knowledge - for example twikis are frequently used to keep very up to date information, but this is more along the lines of how to do some technical thing than research ideas.

I would not be allowed to do this because I am a member of a collaboration with rather strict disclosure polices

I would say research ideas are mostly discussed in telephone conferences and via emails, with younger people often using skype chat or even facebook chat. Thats something I have discovered - I am becoming "old and out of touch" (at the age of 33...) because I still use email!

Sandrine Berges
Thanks for the link, Simon. That's really interesting.

Mark, I've never discussed research on the phone, and tend to find chit chat situations a bit difficult when it comes to research - I'm not really much of a thinking on my feet type of person (not great, for a philosopher, I know...) so I prefer more structured situation like one to one conversations, or email.

My recent experiences of colleagues putting arguments out on the blog and getting feedback were quite encouraging though. Some people suggested that we start a forum to discuss a book, based on a short post. As a result I'm thinking of putting some of my stuff out my new blog and see what sort of response I'll get from the research community - but first, I need to get the relevant research community to come to the blog!