Blogging: A Reliable Academic Source?

I had a great conversation with one of my professors after class today. (Of course, I have to say that because he might be reading this!) We talked about topics far and wide pertaining to the life of the Christian who wants to be a faithful intellectual.

As exciting a topic as that is, it’s not what I am particularly aiming at for this post. As our conversation meandered around (as good conversations do), we started talking about the issue of academics and blogging. There’s a ton of useful, relevant writing occurring on blogs, much of it by academics with excellent credentials. However, this is a new medium for the academic world (and really, the whole world), so how to handle blogs as valid sources—if indeed they can be valid sources—is a pressing topic in today’s world.

While I am certainly interested in what my readers think about this, I’m especially curious to know if anyone here knows of any useful articles, blogs, etc. that describe the issues here and the criteria for judging blogs to be useful. We’re actually going to talk about this in class next week, so any sources that can be used as a basis for this discussion would be greatly appreciated!

EDIT: I emailed Scot McKnight about this as I posted it, and he decided that it was a good enough topic to dedicate a post at his site to. There’s some good discussion happening there.

18 responses to “Blogging: A Reliable Academic Source?”

  1. An overwhelming response! ;)

    In my own trawling of the Web, I’ve had difficulty finding any discussion of the use of blogs as reliable sources in academic writing, but I’ve found a lot of discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of blogging vs. traditional academic discourse.

    Here’s an example of an article that compares Peer Review vs. Citation Network Topology. Another blogger argues for the benefits of academic blogging.

    And here’s a bonus. Wikipedia’s Reliable Sources guideline says that blogs are not a reliable source due to their lack of editorial oversight.

  2. This is a great thought, I’m curious about what you find. I think there are a lot of bloggers out there, who would like to find their thoughts referenced in academic journals or at least college papers. Wonder how we find a medium for that.

  3. Gregg:

    Thanks for coming leaving those links. I’ll check them out and I look forward to our discussion this week.


    Thanks for coming by. I have a fascination with how the internet and blogging are changing the way we communicate and learn as a culture. I think we’re still in the nascent stages of learning to sort through and separate the reliable from the unreliable in this new medium.

  4. Alan, thanks for that; its being published in CTR was precisely the kind of information I was looking for.

    I agree that any study of current trends and the recent past (such as the EC) almost necessitates blog reading. Traditional print publishing just moves too slowly in comparison.

    (PS I just deleted your second comment and properly updated the link in your first one to tidy things up)

  5. I just received an email from the Rev. Dr. Donald P. Richmond of the Anglican Province of America (Western Diocese) on this topic, and with his permission, I’m adding his remarks to the comments here. He said:

    I read your question on Scot McKnight’s blog, and decided to respond. (I apologize, but, as I am over 50 years old, I do not know how to “blog.”)

    It is academically sound to quote a blog IF the person you are citing is a noted authority. As an example, I would have no problems citing Scot, Rev. Dr. Andrew Greeley, or Brian McLaren because they are known experts in certain fields of study.
    It makes no difference whether I quote from a book, a website, or a blog as long as they are “reputable.” However, regardless of how “right” a person may be, and whether we like it or not, we cannot simply quote a person who is not a noted expert and expect it to hold any academic weight. Such is the nature of the academy — as it currently exists.

    These are my thoughts — and I have taught in colleges and seminaries. I think my wife would agree, and she remains a Professor of English at a small college.

  6. Thank you, Matt. I think I now know how to blog (blogg?). Unfortunately, like many of the younger people who blog (blogg?), I do not know how to spell —- in this case blog (blogg?).

    In caritas Christi

  7. Hi Donald, congrats on your first blog comment.

    And yes, that would be blog, not blogg.

    Good to know that there’s hope for all of the spelling-deficient out there!

  8. Thanks for this inquiry, at
    I delayed posting my response.
    Now, check my most recent blog post: Citing a Blog, Wiki – Style for bibliographic notes and references. []

  9. Blogs are not an academic source – they are, however, a good academic resource. I have been able to develop at least three major papers out of blog posts that I have written. The posts were rudimentary and meant to work things through. The final papers look nothing like the blog posts, but they served as a very helpful jumping point for philosophical writing. Many of the philosophers of religion that have written at The Prosblogion have had papers published in reputable journals that have come about as a result of discussions had on their blog.

  10. Peter, thanks for the comment on this old post!

    For the time being, I would say that you’re right. What I’m wondering about is moving towards a time where the “rules of the game” change to reflect emerging means of communication in a digital age. I doubt that journals will be the only “respectable” form of academic discourse 10 years from now.

  11. […] blogging academically including: academic refereeing (peer-review) and reliability/verifiability/legitimacy as a source, issues of plagiarism (particularly because of potential differences in copyright law since there […]

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