3 October 2010

Blogs and science

The other day I read an interesting post in A Replicated Typo about the role of blogs in scientific research. We could be debating this issue for hours, even days, without really reaching any kind of conclusion, but at least one thing seems true: the interaction between popular science and formal scientific discourse is now at a different level, and that's interesting. This reminds me of a quote by archaeologist Catherine Hills (2007: 18): "Popular presentations, because simplified for clarity, often show more immediately the outlines and implications of an argument which may be nuanced, modified, even fudged, in scholarly writing". And she's quite right.

Who knows? Maybe blogs are already playing an important role in redefining scientific practices and discourse. I have been publishing posts in this blog for more than two years and now I am also working on my own dissertation about historical linguistics, so I am in an intermediate position between those two spheres. In my case, there is no doubt that the blogging experience has influenced the way I approach the task of researching. The problem, now, is time. I have a full-time job as a teacher and a full dissertation to write, which means I will probably have to stop blogging, or at least I will not be able to publish long elaborate posts for some time. We'll see.

- Hills, Catherine (2007). "Anglo-Saxon attitudes", in N. Higham, ed., Britons in Anglo-Saxon England. Rochester: The Boydell Press.


Joan-Carles Martí i Casanova said...

Bon dia Jesús:

As always it's not about scholarly or popular writing as if the format where the monk writes made the monk.

The main difference is the output which makes it even more difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. It is true that one often writes too fast on the Internet but short can also mean bad as it can mean good and long is always a danger zone.

Cheer quantity means that a lot of nonsense is available in blog form but God knows just how many university papers are never published. Haven't most of us forgotten papers that took us a full term to write and that were given the very best marks?

Concerning those which are published and made available haven't we all seen what we've seen: there is also a lot of rubbish there.

The issue about clarity follows the same lines and scholarly writing -even that revised by peers- is not always an art form.

Nevertheless, there is no "in-between". One does not need to indulge just because he is considered both a scholar and a blog owner. There is nothing wrong with that and it's a new planet we've got ahead of us. There are, after all,things like introductions and summaries or even abstracts. I feel you do it quite well: sometimes extremely well.

Jesús Sanchis said...

Hola Joan-Carles, m'alegra vore't de nou per ací.

As you wrote, "it's a new planet we've got ahead of us". I don't know exactly where all this leads to, but it's an exciting experience. In fact, I'm going to publish a new post soon. I just... need it.