This week, a tweet from Jim Groom led me to Sue Fernsebner’s blog on digital scholarship and got me thinking. What exactly is digital scholarship? I hadn’t yet started reading this week’s articles. Once I did, they pushed me to ask the question even harder. And no, I don’t have any answers – just more questions.
First, what exactly is digital scholarship in International Relations? A number of my colleagues at other institutions are writing blogs. Others are tweeting interesting articles and other material that I can use for research. I am still excited about twitter and am finding material to use in my research or in my course on gender next year that I may not have found on my own. But given the pressure of writing blogs often and writing quickly (in order to get noticed), what is the value of those pieces? It could, perhaps, serve the same function as the more traditional op-ed piece did in the past. But collectively, do these posts add up to new knowledge? How do we judge that? Equally important for academia, in general: how do we measure and evaluate such scholarship for tenure, promotion and such?
Second, Google brings up my class blog on Indian foreign policy as its sixth/seventh entry when one types “Indian foreign policy blog” on the search engine. The entries are written by my students, who are being introduced to the topic probably for the first time in their lives. That said, they are capable of asking good questions. Already, in class, I have highlighted some of their comments for use in my own writing – the comments forced me to think harder. But as a body of work, what do they contribute to the broader discussion on Indian foreign policy? And indeed, Google put that above a lot of sites that I would go to in order to listen to experts. What does that say about this debate on “post-theory” scholarship?
That is all for now. Perhaps, I’ll have time for a follow-up – I have more questions.