New EJIL:Live Extra! Joseph Weiler and Martti Koskenniemi Discuss Blogging, Tweeting, and Peer Reviewing

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The EJIL: Live Extras series comprises short video conversations with leading international law scholars. In our latest EJIL: Live Extra! our Editor-in-Chief Professor Joseph Weiler discusses with Professor Martti Koskenniemi of the University of Helsinki blogging and tweeting as a new and integral feature of academic life and the state of peer review in academic journals.


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Camilla Barker says

September 27, 2015

Thank you for this post. It was a great idea to do something on this topic. There is certainly no shortage of information and opinion on the pros and cons, etc. of academic blogging and Tweeting, but very rarely do interested individuals ever get to hear/read honest opinions about its value or contribution, especially in the international law field.

I should preface my brief and select comments by saying that I hold a Twitter account that I (try to) use solely for academic/work/industry related comments, and I have several short pieces published on blogs of varying quality and reputation. That being said, I am a hesitant Tweeter/blogger, and I have found myself on many occasion hovering above the 'Delete account' or 'Delete post' buttons.

It seems to me that - as with many other things - the advice for prospective Tweeters/bloggers should be, "Do it well, or don't do it at all." I consider this especially sound advice for more junior academics who - like myself - have few or no publications. Blogging has its attraction for junior academics because it is an opportunity to publish something, to interact with peers in the field, and hopefully to start building a reputation for oneself (albeit a very small one relative to other mediums). That attraction is compounded when one attends careers events that remark upon the realities of present day hiring: the increasing demand for fewer positions, the importance of 'impact' for the REF (in the UK, at least), the need to show one's engagement with others outside of academia, etc.

The risks if realised, however, can soon swallow up those benefits. Most blogs are not edited or quality checked. Most blogs do not require peer review. Most blogs are free to be added to, modified, and shared by anyone with an Internet access. That, in my mind at least, makes it much easier to publish something which one might later regret (and we all know that nothing that has ever been published online ever really gets deleted...). In the early stages of one's academic career, a year or two can make an enormous difference in terms of the quality and accuracy of one's output. When it comes to job applications, then, one might have blog posts to one's name that are four or five years old, and crucially, four or five years more inferior than anything one would produce now. If that's what will speak for one's suitability for an academic post in the absence of any other publications, then that appears to be a matter for concern. Of course, senior academics in the position of hiring will themselves be aware of this, but that cannot excuse the fact that we as juniors have presented this material - directly or indirectly - to hiring committees in the first place.

Anyone have more views on this? Should more junior academics be holding off on their blogging and Tweeting until they have published something more substantial? To those involved in hiring, what is your view of blog posts appearing on job applications?

Many thanks once again. This was a very interesting post.