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Thread: Does academia respect blogging/ webforums?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Does academia respect blogging/ webforums?

    Getting written work published in traditional media sources and scholarly journals has always been a prerequisite for those aspiring for a career in the ivory tower as a college professor. Likewise, many of the top institutions expect doctoral candidates to demonstrate the ability to produce written work and research that is recognized as a significant contribution to the field.

    But written work that is deemed acceptable to the ivory tower does not neccessarily mean it is any better than other writing on nontraditional sources of media. Rather, it means that the academic establishment has signed off on the reputation/prestige of the particular outlet, and that the submission has been sufficiently vetted through a "peer review" or similar process.

    That is all fine with me, and I can respect the need for academic institutions to preserve the integrity of individual research/ contributions to the field. But I've often wondered if the ivory tower thinks less of the writing that takes place on non-traditional sources such as webjournals, blogs, and even forums like Cyburbia. IMO, some of the best writing in the field of urban planning happens in these places (Cyburbia in particular), although the authors will probably never gain acknowledgement for it or be able to put it on their resumes.

    So what say you Cyburbia? Is there an inherent bias against non-traditional online writing forms among those in academia? Would a prolific blogger stand a chance against someone who has written a few articles in JAPA when it came to an admission decision at an ivy league planning school?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm.....

    NO.......the rest of this text is just filler......

    No because blogging doesn't fall within their accepted format and they don't have control over what you say and how you say it......

    Is this the part where H tells me I'm way out of line
    Skilled Adoxographer

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    The qualifying condition would be peer review.
    Print - before and signed off on.
    Blog - after the fact ?
    but then I know as much about this as Teh One.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
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    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    What he said.....

    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    but then I know as much about this as Teh One.

    Maybe....but we both know "they" have rules
    Skilled Adoxographer

  5. #5
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    The Academic publication process

    This post demonstrates a lack of understanding of the academic process of publishing and peer review.

    Peer review has nothing to do with reputation or prestige. Proposed articles are reviewed for their methodology and cogency of argument, not for the reputation of their authors. Articles are sent back for review and revision based on the quality of science exhibited, not for the conclusions obtained in and of themselves.

    Writing in blogs and forums has no method of evaluating the conclusions of the author, since there are no references, no review by others knowledgeable in the field and no means of judging the cogency of arguments presented. This form of writing exists in a vacuum, with no means of comparing one data set and conclusion from any other.

    This does not mean that blogging and forum-ing is bad or of less utility than academic publication. It just means that they are two different means of communication, with different goals, different procedures and different outcomes.

    Different is not the same.

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    "Publish or perish" usually means having research and findings published in a peer-reviewed academic journal; JAPA, Urban Affairs Review, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, and so on.

    Compilations or readers, such as "A Planners' Guide to Land Use Law" or "Debates in Contemporary Urban Planning", may include articles by academics, but they may also include articles from other professionals and experts. Such venues may be respected, but they're not considered to be as "serious" as a peer-reviewed academic journal. Those in academia may often include works in such publications in their curriculum vitae, but they're probably going to save the findings of their more serious (and grant funded) research for the peer-reviewed journals. The compilations and readers are intended more for an audience of higher-end professionals rather than academics; they're lighter reading compared to the journals.

    For general communications online, those in planning academia are firmly attached to their mailing lists, some of which have been around since the early 1990s. Most mailing lists are based at large universities, administered by others in academia (usually librarians or other professors), and considered exclusive. They don't expect the likes of Joe Current Planner in Amarillo to subscribe and ask for advice about defining "family". Mailing list messages include plenty of calls for papers, announcements of published papers, conference announcements, academic job listings, and so on. There's a smaller amount of two-way discussion, again usually research-related.

    There's a growing number of those in academia that have blogs, for example Richard Florida, but it's mainly for publishing shorter opinion pieces, not longer works of research. If you look on PN, a good number of op-eds are written by those in academia, but they're still not considered peer-reviewed articles.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is nobody in academia on Cyburbia, except for some planners that teach a few college classes on the side. It's the same in almost every academic and professional specialty; not including students, academia generally shuns message boards.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    NO.......the rest of this text is just filler......

    No because blogging doesn't fall within their accepted format and they don't have control over what you say and how you say it......

    Is this the part where H tells me I'm way out of line
    No, this is the part when he agrees with you... blogs are not peer reviewed, thus there is no quality control.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post

    To the best of my knowledge, there is nobody in academia on Cyburbia, except for some planners that teach a few college classes on the side. It's the same in almost every academic and professional specialty; not including students, academia generally shuns message boards.

    I am an academic. I enjoy reading cyburbia posts. But they are not of the same category as peer reviewed journals. They are never referenced. If academics were to accept blog posts, how would you distinguish between well reasoned posts and those that are people mouthing off? Academics don't accept most op ed pieces or most newspaper articles either. So don't take it personally.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Back to the original post, I do not believe that one with "a few articles in JAPA" would be applying for school admission.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    Back to the original post, I do not believe that one with "a few articles in JAPA" would be applying for school admission.
    I actually meant the APA magazine... whatever. The point I was trying to make was that non-traditional online writing such as blogs and webforums provide discourse that is just as valuable to the field, if not more, than scholarly journals and magazines. The title of the post was a bit of a teaser, I admit, but it is a legitimate question that I've been pondering (and I don't feel the need to apologize to anyone for asking it).

    I will admit that my attempt to compare the peer-review process to blogging/webforums was a stretch.

  11. #11
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    Fully in agreement with hilldweller! As a student I have always felt that the peer-review process is overrated and has a counterpart in blogging.The process is different-instead of having the article checked prior to publication, the blog relies on users comments to authenticate or dismiss the claims made by the author. In some ways it is a stronger mechanism than peer-review- the reaction to an article is publicly viewable opposed to journals where the criteria of the reviewer remains unknown. This is especially true in forum such as this, where the comments are made mostly by other professionals meaning that those critiquing are most likely going to be in possession of expert knowledge.

    The bigger question however lies in what is the value of new knowledge if it is not made publicly available-as it is on blogs? Knowledge detached from practice has little impact, whereas knowledge in a forum such as a blog can be picked up by practicing planners and used to make a positive difference. Equally, practicing planners can challenge research that becomes detached from what actually happens, all of which makes blogging a potentially powerful forum!

    Anyway that be the vent of a frustrated student! Interestingly I have often found the best lectures to be those that managed to bridge the professional and academic world, which def for me furthers the case of linking practice and research...

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by stuartdenoon View post
    Fully in agreement with hilldweller! As a student I have always felt that the peer-review process is overrated and has a counterpart in blogging.The process is different-instead of having the article checked prior to publication, the blog relies on users comments to authenticate or dismiss the claims made by the author. In some ways it is a stronger mechanism than peer-review- the reaction to an article is publicly viewable opposed to journals where the criteria of the reviewer remains unknown. This is especially true in forum such as this, where the comments are made mostly by other professionals meaning that those critiquing are most likely going to be in possession of expert knowledge.

    The bigger question however lies in what is the value of new knowledge if it is not made publicly available-as it is on blogs? Knowledge detached from practice has little impact, whereas knowledge in a forum such as a blog can be picked up by practicing planners and used to make a positive difference. Equally, practicing planners can challenge research that becomes detached from what actually happens, all of which makes blogging a potentially powerful forum!
    I find blogs interesting and informative but....

    Not every post gets vetted and reviewed. Sometimes people say very provacative things that no one responds to. But every peer reviewed article has been read over, commented on and responded to. So how would you distinguish between them. Plus what blogs. Cyberbians tend to be well informed, for the most part. But how bout a blog entry from a more distant blog. Should every blog be treated equally?

    Finally, every journal does try to maintain some sort of honesty. Of course every so often it turns out someone falsified data, but who ever checks on the accuracy of every blog post?

    In my classes, as in the others in my school, we don't even accept wikipedia as a valid source. It would just be too complicated to try. Even individual observations are suspect, by the way. If someone says something happened in New York City, how do we know it really happened? How do we know its generalizable to other places. How do we know the person who genuinelly thinks he saw it, actually did? The methods themselves are suspect.

  13. #13
    Member Martin's avatar
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    Blogs & other non peer reviewed publications

    Having published in both formats, the quality of the research that I put on my blog is often higher than my journal articles. Since I'm not looking for an academic job, very often the time and expense of the peer review process is not worthwhile. And sometimes the more complete or more useful results don't suit the style of the journal (or the, ahem, opinions of the referees) so a blog is a cheap self-publishing solution.

    At one point when I saw one of my journal papers on a couple of required reading lists for students, I contacted the professors to suggest that my blog's version of the same research was more complete and easier to read, and had insights about other approaches that didn't work out. No go. The citation determines the credibility. I'm not sure that it's even peer review that does it. Academics are quite happy to cite non-peer-reviewed technical reports, even gleefully cite personal communications from well known authors that they were clever enough to elicit.

    In the sciences, there are repositories like arXiv.org where non peer reviewed articles sink or swim based on their own merits, and the readers themselves think they know enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. In urban planning and related fields, no such luck but blogs serve the purpose, albeit with a low signal to noise ratio.

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