Monday, June 22, 2009

Blogging Latin American politics and academia

At the blogging workshop I organized at LASA in Rio, we talked quite a lot about blogging and academia. I made the point that blogging does not provide professional benefits because it will not be noted for tenure, promotion, merit pay, etc. It falls into none of the three academic categories (research, teaching, and service) for which we are judged professionally. However, I think I defined "benefit" too narrowly because our conversation made clear that there are a number of positive professional effects, whether direct or indirect. (These are not ranked in any order.)

--providing links in blog posts to articles, reports, books, etc. on research-related topics makes it easier to find them later. It can also help to organize your thoughts.

--blogging improves your writing because it forces you to make your ideas understandable to a broad audience. For example, jargon is sometimes necessary in academic writing for precision, but is too often used excessively and can obscure your argument. Blogging forces you to articulate the argument without the jargon.

--it can make your ideas available to people in government, think tanks, etc. who are interested in the same issues, and they will contact you. This will take time, and varies depending on the topic you cover and the works you have already published. It is even more relevant if you are in the field and therefore offering firsthand accounts of politics.

--it gets you quoted in the mainstream media, which colleges and universities appreciate and often list publicly to show the expertise of their professors. Further, it can lead to invited articles (such as op-eds) or talks.

--the more posts you publish, the more you come up on Google, which increases your exposure. This is relevant even in strictly academic terms, because people researching similar topics will find you more quickly and be exposed to your work (even if they are not bloggers). It is therefore also important to have a link to your professional website with CV and even article PDFs (and/or links to your books).

I would also like to point readers to Sebastian Chaskel at Latin American Thought--he attended the LASA workshop and has an extensive post about his own perceptions of it. From a mixed professional/personal perspective, I must say that I have met--in person and/or electronically--many people I otherwise never would've come into contact with, from all walks of life.


Anonymous,  6:56 PM  

I enjoyed being on the panel very much. Thanks again for organizing it.

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