Sunday, April 16, 2006

'Academic' Blogs

N.B. Regular readers should have figured by now that this is a weekly blog, and new posting generally go up on a Sunday.

The topic of this week's posting is Blogging itself. The particular topic of interest, is the extent to which academics are also bloggers. There have been attempts to collect data about academic blogging. An interesting example can be found here. There is also an interesting study which suggests that doctoral students who are working on their dissertations are amongst the most consistent bloggers. Regrettably, I can no longer locate the link to this study.

Scholarly blogs can also be found using specialized tools. One such can be found at www.blogscholar.com. However, one of the better methods of finding blogs by Professors and other academics is by references from other academic type sites and blogs. A particularly extensive list can be found at the TabithaTeaches blog. [N.B. Since this posting was originally put up Tabitha has moved and her blog has disappeared -- a damn shame.]

Almost any list of academic blogs, or discussion of the topic will always reference the BitchPhD blog. In terms of notoriety, this blog is quite simply an 800 pound gorilla. Yet, this blog contains relatively little of academic value. Bitch Ph.D. is for the most part interested in feminist topics and discussing her own, rather florid (at least, so she claims), sex life. One weakness of the site is the quality of the commentators. Another pernicious flaw is that the content of the site is focused on a very mid-America perspective of the World. This has had the effect of drawing nominally politically correct commentators of a similar ilk, in addition to a few sad folks who seem titilated by tales of husbands, lovers and chatroom sex. Although the site is well-known and popular with a certain stripe of persons, it is not too informative about life as an academic. It has more in common with a soap opera.

Another frequently listed blog by a professor is professors and her 'Playing School' blog (for god's sake, it is a job!). Although this blog is much more closely focused on the life and work of a professor, it is also of limited value, due to the relatively callow nature of the author. To make matters worse, Profgrrrl offers advice to other untenured assistant professors, which is frankly ridiculous (at least, to a more seasoned, tenured faculty member). Again, her commentators are bad. They seem to believe that her transparently silly advice is wonderful. It seems that the quality of commentators is a good predictor of the overall quality of the blog.

So, if the frequently cited sites are not up to much, where should one get interesting insight into academic matters? Although quite a few of the sites in the list at the Tabatha Teaches blog are reasonably interesting, they too are frequently written by untenured faculty members. These sites often have interesting insights into the travails of teaching undergraduates, but are short on the kinds of information that would be useful to those who are freshly tenured, or about to be tenured. There are some other sites, which whilst less well-known, are still highly informative.

One site that is worth looking at is the 'Gentleman's C' site from The Angry Professor. This site discusses real aspects of the academic life, in addition to the other issues that arise in the lives of academics. In addition, the comments that The Angry Professor receives are considerably more informative, and less directed to affirming a certain view point, than in the previously discussed sites.

Another blog that is worth reading is The G Bitch. Although The G Bitch appears to be untenured, she nonetheless posts in a much more informative and mature manner. In particular, her list of common student English language errors is excellent. As The G Bitch is based in New Orleans, her discussion of events there is also of broader interest.

One blog that I used to be fond of is Professor Zero. This blog has now moved to here. The blogger managed to damage their blogger template and could not figure out how to fix it (despite numerous hints), this led to the move. Pretentious is the best way to describe this blog. The Zero likes the pose as a professor, but many of the posts show a shallow understanding of the profession. Where once were interesting literary comments, the blog now serves up comments on book reviews and frequently plagiarised material. This is a blog that may fool some, but should not fool real academics.

One conclusion that is interesting to note from this 'dime tour' of academic blogs is the number of blogs that are created by women, rather than men. I am uncertain of the explanation for this fact. However, there are also male bloggers of note. One of the most popular is the Pharyngula blog from P. Z. Myers. This blog is highly informative on scientific matters, especially those connected with the biological sciences. It is also interesting that Myers is the only blogger discussed here so far who makes no attempt to conceal his real identity.

So, it appears that the world of academic blogs is just the same as the world of people. Some blogs are informative and fascinating, while others are trite. Of course, this is not supposed to be an exhaustive list of academic blogs. Please feel free to add recommendations and so on in the comments, as you see fit.

The CP

6 Comments:

Blogger Professor Zero said...

Thanks for the plug, CP. Have you seen this?
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/articles/brief/gbbloggers_brief.php

Profgrrrl is endlessly irritating, but mark my words, she's self- absorbed enough to be able to make Full and an Ivy before you or I ever do that.

Bitch PhD has very bad commentators, it is true, and is SOOOO MIDDDLE AMEEERICAN and SOOOOO MIDDLE DEMOCRATIC PARTY that I could just smack for being narrow minded, ignorant, and probably a product of a bad PhD program.

But she's not entirely as dull in my view as you say; note that many of PZ Myers' commentators are just as dull as hers. Both of them have the advantage of posting daily, which is useful (not that I recommend that all blogs do this).

I love the Angry Professor/ Gentleman's C and the G Bitch. I think Rate Your Students is a nice effort, but ultimately I find it bland.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Tabitha Grimalkin said...

Hello! I just surfed over to your blog from the comments you posted on my blog. Thanks for the mention.

Your comment noted that you can not see my list of academic links. That is a bit odd as they appear just fine on my laptop screen. Perhaps blogger is just on the fritz tonight?

9:59 PM  
Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I've found "Confessions of a Community College Dean" to be informative an to have an intersting perspective. He covers topics that apply beyond the community college.... if I were good at any of the technical parts of blogging, I'd give you the link... sorry.

I kind of agree about Bitch PhD. I'll have to check out the ones you recommend and add them to my bookmarks.

4:07 AM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

Thanks for the plug squared. As a tenure-track guppy in a sea of tenured...other kinds of fish, I'd like to say their professionalism, experience and maturity rub off on me but that's less than occasionally true.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Piss Poor Prof said...

I am relatively new to blogging, but not to the concerns of academia.

I too am growing weary of Bitch, but alas...

A good, consistent site for a wide range of articles (multiple authors post--mostly highbrow content) is 3quarksdaily.

I also like the depth of content of Bardiac, Dr. Crazy (Reassigned Time), and Dean Dad.

6:38 AM  
Blogger ChasingMoksha said...

Bitch PhD bored me to tears. I could only read a few entries. However, I do love professor zero and GBitch. I will have to read the Angry Professor.

3:19 AM  

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