Blogging as a form of academic publishing does come with its own risks, which you should consider fully before committing to writing online.
Effect on your job, or your next job
People have lost their job as a consequence of what they have written on their blogs, even if they have taken care not to refer directly to their employers and have blogged under pseudonyms. While in academia there is some conjecture that researchers in the United States have been refused tenure as a consequence of their blogging activity. You should bear in mind that your current or any prospective future employer may find your blog online and take it into account when assessing your employability.
Relationship with your institution
If your blog is set up within a Virtual Learning Environment or an institutional blog hosting service, it will be clear that you will be writing as a member of your university or college. This means that you will be subject to the relevant code of conduct or appropriate use of computing resources policy for your institution. While few institutions have a policy specifically to cover blogging, should you feel restricted by any limits these policies place upon your writing, you may wish to blog outside the confines of the IT systems provided for you by your institution.
A blog may be a useful forum for floating new ideas, theories or areas of research. However, you will not have the same degree of control you have with a peer reviewed journal and will not be entitled to the same degree of credit a formal publication bestows upon you. Similarly, it is not clear whether ideas expressed or published on a blog, are covered by the same rules and regulations as a book, article or other output produced while you are an employee of an institution or being funded by a research council grant.
Blogs come with their own set of social rules or blog etiquette. For example, Internet sources cited or quoted in your posts should be acknowledged with a reciprocal link to the websites in question. Retrospectively editing a blog entry is a tricky area, as this may make some of the comments users have posted to your initial article look out of place. Consider using strikeout formatting (
like this) to show edits or make additions to the bottom of a post to show how your views may have evolved.
The default setting for most blogs is to allow comments from readers. While this can lead to fruitful interactions, debate and links to useful further resources, like any open form of conversation, it can lead to inappropriate or offensive comments and it can be exploited by Internet marketers as a way of spamming your blog. You may wish to investigate the security options in your blogging software to make readers register before posting a comment to your blog, or hold comments in a queue for your approval before they are published.
Other legal issues
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has produced a Legal Guide For Bloggers, which looks at some of the key legal issues that affect blogs. However, it should be remembered that this has been written from an American perspective and therefore some of the advice would not necessarily apply elsewhere. Also, this is an area of law that is developing all the time, so what may be true today could be changed by a new piece of legislation in the near future.
- Bloggers need not apply / Ivan Tribble - Chronicle of Higher Education 8 July 2005
- Blogging: academia's digital divide / Fred Stutzman
- Blogging theory / Jodi Dean
- Blogging while untenured and other extreme sports / Christine Hurt, Tung Yin
- Confessions of a scholar blogger / Daniel Drezner - University of Chicago Magazine, v. 97, issue 3
- Legal Guide for Bloggers / Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Serious bloggers / Jeff Rice - Inside Higher Education 20 February 2006
- The relationship of blogging to academic work / N Pepperell
- By the blog: academics tread carefully / Zoe Corbyn - Times Higher Education, 9 October 2008