Irony? Does a blog = scholarship

By Jonathan Sherbino (@sherbino)

Sometimes I wonder if the proliferation of FB posts, blogs, and tweets is simply narcissistic mania. Yeah, ok, I get the irony of that statement 🙂  Yet, to ignore social media is to ignore an important and transforming movement in medical education. Social media allows the free, rapid, and broad dissemination of innovations. And… it permits the archival of scholarship for subsequent critique.

Suddenly, the scope of the audience is dramatically changed via the global reach of technology. So, is it possible for a blog post (or series of posts) to be considered scholarship? The key issue is whether a blog undergoes appropriate peer review.  The other criteria for scholarship – (see the previous posts on Education Scholarship, part 1 and part 2) – are easily met via the blogging platform.

Pre-publication peer review, the current mark of scholarly rigor (and the currency of academic organizations), might be considered medieval (e.g. Guttenberg) technology.  Typically, a “paper” is submitted for blinded (usually) review by three experts.  As a journal editor, I can tell you that finding available reviewers is often a challenge and that their expertise (particularly with methodology or theory) can be inconsistent.

Most blogs are not submitted with any pre-publication peer review, although, I do know of a number of thoughtful educators that seek feedback on their ideas before posting.  However, the social and digital components of a blog readily allow post-publication peer review.  Which approach permits greater rigor – three reviewers pre-publication or 10, 20, 50 reviewers post publication?  Which type of reviewer offers greater scrutiny – blinded reviewers solicited by an editor or reviewers socially invested in the topic addressed by a blog?

(NB: Editing a Wikipedia entry requires permissions, based on previous lower level contributions to Wikipedia, ensuring that a reviewer has the appropriate expertise to amend a post. Thus, within social media there is an emerging quality control for post-publication review.)

So, …what do you think? Should a blog post be considered scholarship?

For more (and different) discussion on this issue, check out friends of the show at Boring EM .

Image by NY used under Creative Commons 3 License