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.

Further Information

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Victoria Hedlund

    Hi, I have found this video and article very useful. I am in the first year of my PhD and I’d like to contribute, or at least read some multi-author blogs. Do you have any advice where to find them (are they kept centrally at Universities or is googlesearching the best plan?)?

    Also, are there any examples that we could look at to see the kind of themes and topics that are posted? This would then allow me to translate the ideas into my own area (education/physics/art).

    Many thanks for making me aware of multi-author blogs. :)

    26 Oct 2011, 09:16

  2. Mark Carrigan

    Hi Victoria, here’s some of my favourites.

    - sociologicalimagination.org
    - inequalitiesblog.wordpress.com
    - blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/
    - thedisorderofthings.com/

    I’m sure there will be education, physics and art MABs (although maybe not covering all 3 topics!). I don’t know of any service that distinguishes multi-author blogs from single-author ones unfortunately. Many established sites tend to be multi-author now though so if you search using technorati.com or www.google.com/blogsearch you’ll find some.

    If you’re interested in writing for one, look out for sites that ask for guest posts. Even if they don’t explicitly say this, it’s worth e-mailing the blog editors to see if they’re interested in you potentially writing an article for them. This can be an opportunity to get more actively involved in the site in future. Alternatively do you know anyone who might be interested in setting up a new multi-author blog with you?

    01 Nov 2011, 16:19

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