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Reader riposte: Academic blogging

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COMMENTS

17 February 2012 09:09

Nick Bisley, a Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University, writes:

Here are a few reasons as to why you don't see too many Australian academics in the IR/international policy universe blog.

First is demographics. The Australian ran figures showing that Australian academics are on average much older than their peers elsewhere (around 53 from memory — can't find the story as it's behind a subscription firewall). Not a high blogging demographic.

Also, there's the question of numbers. Griffith Uni keeps regular data on the number of academics and the most recent figures for Political Science is around 300. If you assume that about 1/3 do international-related things then you've got about 100 and if you assume that about half or so are interested in theory and related academic concerns, the actual numbers of prospective bloggers is probably not that large.

Third, I think we academics are collectively used to being in the business of reflection, consideration and careful(ish) construction of argument. Most of us tend to think of blogs as semi-digested thought bubbles (ie. exactly the sort of thing we shouldn't be doing). I'm not saying our perception is right, but I think that's a widely held view.

Finally is time. The time demands on academics are surprisingly high. Australian universities have very high staff-student ratios and hugely inadequate administrative support. This, along with the number of different things we're expected to keep on top of, high quality peer reviewed research, teaching to a generation of students who are very demand-oriented, plus the seemingly endless committees, makes for a time-constrained environment.

Also, given the current way in which universities set internal incentives (primarily peer reviewed research is rewarded, plus a nod to teaching, with the rest — media, policy advice etc — ignored entirely) means that the marginal utility of blogging is pretty negligible.

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