All entries for Friday 14 October 2011

October 14, 2011

Single author vs. multi author blogs

In the video below Mark Carrigan talks about this week's theme, Publishing on the Web, and his experience of blogging. He also touches on the theme of this post, single vs. multi author blogging:

In our contemporary ‘publish or perish’ culture, postgraduate researchers find themselves under pressure to gain publication before they complete their thesis. In an increasingly inhospitable job market, it has become extremely difficult to find academic work post-PhD without one or more peer-reviewed academic papers. Then there’s the pressure to gain teaching experience, as well as the mundane though often challenging business of supporting yourself financially in an environment where postgraduate funding is becoming ever more difficult to obtain. In these conditions surely academic blogging is a distraction from more pressing concerns? Even if you see the multiplicity of benefits it can offer to postgraduate researchers, it might still seem as if it simply takes up too much time.

This is where multi-author academic blogs (MABs) come in. In an article for Networked Researcher, itself a good example of the format, Chris Gilson and Patrick Dunleavy write about their experience of editing the British Politics and Policy @ LSE blog:

The vast majority of popular political blogs are now multi-author blogs (MABs); that is, themed and coherent blogs run by a proper editorial team and calling on the services of multiple authors to ensure that the blog remains topical, can accumulate a great deal of content and can ensure a good ‘churn’ of high quality posts. We believe that MABs are a very important development, and they can be an assured way for an academic institution to become more effective in the context of the web.

The rapid success of the British Politics and Policy @ LSE blog is a case in point. Set up originally as a temporary experiment to cover the 2010 General Election, we have now posted over 800 blogs from over 250 different authors.The blog has become a means by which LSE seeks to reach out to people from other institutions and universities in the UK and abroad. Our contributors include politicians and journalists as well as members of think tanks, NGOs and the wider academic community.

On a purely pragmatic level, MABs are much easier to sustain than single author blogs. They also tend to be more successful. With a diverse range of contributors, a successful editorial policy and a clear sense of purpose, the ensuing blog will be accessible and engaging. Likewise with an associated Twitter account and Facebook page, updating followers when new content is published, readership communities can emerge around MABs. Maintaining such a blog can be a very different process to having a single-author blog (see the ‘collaborative online’ case studies from the Knowledge Centre for some practical examples of this) but it can also be more rewarding both personally and professionally. It’s something all postgraduate researchers should consider, particularly if you already know a few people with similar interests who are exploring academic blogging.

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