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By Charlotte Rochez

It is estimated that only 10 percent of historians share their scholarship in digital form in openly-accessible forms online (Townsend 2010 cited Nawrotzki & Dougherty 2013). In questioning this lack of engagement, and in devising this blog, I listened to historians’ discussions on blogging. Their conversations tended to concentrate on the following four questions:

1. Do serious scholars blog?

The digital age is challenging the traditional relationship between forms of publication and academic esteem. Once academic publications were confined to print in monographs, peer-reviewed articles and recited conference papers. Today these modes are being challenged, with academic events hosted in virtual spaces and academic theses published online. Some academic blog posts better resemble journal articles. Others share academic content without ‘academic’ tone, structure or language. By posting their work online, scholars invite others to respond and are able to use this critical feedback to inform their ongoing research.  Blog posts are useful for scholars who are serious about impact. Open-access blogs, with links, embedded sources and concise writing may enable scholars to publicly share reflections on the latest literature, research, events and findings in their field.


2. Don’t you need a lot of time and techno-how to blog?

For those who do recognise the benefits of sharing on-going reflections (or full-publications) online, some feel they lack the resources to do so. Whilst new platforms have simplified the process of blog creation and design, for many, the prospect of crafting (and publicising) regular blog posts is a daunting or unrealistic addition to their already strained academic workloads. Multi-contributor blogs offer a much-needed opportunity for writers to create occasional blog posts.

3. Does anyone read blog posts?

Internet entrepreneur Evan Williams recognises that “blogging got the concept of personal publishing, but it didn’t really take advantage of the network”. Picture yourself sharing your astute reflections openly online only to reach no audience; without publicising your post in relevant online platforms it becomes another message bobbing alone in a sea of unlabelled plastic bottles. The most popular blog-posts serve as articulations sparking, or developing, academic conversations and are linked to interested and engaged communities on social media. 

4. How does publishing online benefit researchers?

Most academics receive little or no profit directly from printed publications. However those profits, and the chances of acceptance for publication, may be increased through demonstrating online interest and engagement. This indicates to publishers (and editors) that there is a market and a means of advertisement for the work. By establishing their presence amongst online academic communities, academics are able to publicise themselves and their work. Melissa Terras found that papers that are tweeted and blogged about have “at least more than 11 times the number of downloads”.

How does the HES blog respond to these questions?

The HES blog is an open-access platform for those interested in the history of education to share and discuss our work and to reflect on the work of others. Freed from the demands of creating and regularly updating an individual blog, HES welcomes occasional or one-off contributions. In moving away from the model of individual bloggers seeking to publicise and network their personal publications, HES draws upon its existing network, for both authorship and readership. The blog is linked to the HES website, and its posts are advertised to its twitter followers and facebook fans.

Details on how to contribute a post to this History of Education Society Blog can be found here.