The negative myths about academic blogging

Blogging is dangerous for non-tenured faculty: Blogging will not get you tenure. Neither will giving talks worldwide. Tenure is usually granted because you were able to hold a decent research program, and you showed respect for the students. However, if blogging prevents you from getting tenure, something is very wrong with your blogging or your school. I have heard stories of famous bloggers who did not get tenure. But I have not been convinced that they were denied tenure because of their blogging. For my tenure case, blogging was a one-liner in my activity report. I doubt my colleagues paid any attention to it. Certainly, none of them had read my blog. But even if they had read my blog, I doubt if they would have found it very surprising. My blogging activities just reflect who I am.

Serious researchers have no time for blogging: Indeed, there is always another paper to write and more time to spend at the library, isn’t there? Let me quote Downes on this: If you are spending time in meetings, spending time traveling or commuting to work, spending time reading books and magazines, spending time telephoning people (or worse, on hold, or playing phone tag) then you are wasting time that you could be spending connecting to people online.

Blogging distracts you away from the research: bloggers do not tend to write about their latest research results. We tend to write about ideas that will not make it into our research papers. Is it a distraction? It might be, but does blogging cause you to lose focus in your research? I doubt it. If your research is out-of-focus and going nowhere, blogging may not help you, but you should not blame blogging either. However, your blog will help you write and communicate better. While a blog will not directly promote your research, the increased visibility it generates cannot hurt you.

Note: I do not claim that maintaining a blog helps your academic career.

Source: David Crotty and Stephen Downes

Update: David Eppstein points out that if you get comments telling you that you are coming across in an unflattering light, it might be worthwhile paying attention to them.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

2 thoughts on “The negative myths about academic blogging”

  1. It’s certainly an open question. As you point out, there are definite benefits to blogging for academics. Unfortunately, those who make career decisions for you (tenure committees, job search committees) may not really understand those benefits at the current time. It’s going to be really interesting following the careers of the current crop of science bloggers. There are a bunch of grad students and postdocs in the mix. We’ll have to see how things go for them, if their blogs propel them up the ladder faster.

  2. I believe blogging is important for academics as a way of understanding what their students are doing – reading and writing. In I talk about a paper in eLearn Magazine ( that specifically addresses how blogging was used in a graduate course. But you really need to try it to understand it before unleashing it on your students!

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