I recently attended a truly fascinating workshop, but I’m not going to blog about it…yet. I’m studying how a particular user group conducts research online, so if I discuss preliminary observations, I risk biasing my sample.
To blog or not to blog seems to be a conundrum facing many researchers. Some choose to blog immediately to spread their idea. Others choose not to blog at all and wait until their peer-reviewed publication. Many of us are caught in the middle, attempting to balance information sharing with respect for our study participants or patience with the process. The immediacy pervading the Internet seems to pressure researchers to engage in flag planting, rather than wait a year or two to publish their results in a peer-reviewed publication.
So, what’s the problem? On the one hand, I find it exciting to be able to immediately comment on topics of interest as well as learn from other’s perspectives. Waiting until the data is in takes a while and often, other technologies have already replaced the ones under study.
Why wait? As researchers, we have a responsibility to get our facts straight. Often, experts’ hunches about a practice or theory are correct or approximately so, but we have a responsibility to the public who trust us to label hunches as hunches and findings as findings…the two are not the same.
I’m interested to hear from my colleagues how they approach information sharing. I think it’s important to engage in scholarly conversation, while at the same time conduct quality research and I do not find these pursuits to be exclusive. At the same time, I do not post to my blog preliminary hunches or observations while I am in the midst of collecting or analyzing data. I expect research I read to have been carefully vetted, and in turn attempt to do the same.
Since blogs do serve as academic discussions, I think it’s completely acceptable to noodle over new topics, as long as we label this exercise as opinion, or noodling, and not claim it as fact.