Blogging and Academia
The Wall Street Journal Online has an interesting article on blogging, the internet and Law Reviews. The article has some relevancy to academic journals specializing in Judaic Studies although there are a number of important differences. One is that many articles in Law Reviews discuss a timely matter which has to a certain extant a limited shelf-life. Another is that Law Reviews are to a large extent run by law students and not established scholars in the field. Despite these important differences anyone interested in the relevancy of academic studies should read it. The following quotes caught my eye:
“For years, publishing in journals has been a prerequisite to getting tenure or to moving to a more prestigious institution. And for just as long, scholars and laypeople have criticized the stultifying style of legal academic articles, which tend to be extraordinarily long (sometimes 100 pages or more), dense, and endlessly — even sadistically — footnoted.But the most recent wave of criticism has been especially costly to the legal journals. More than any other time in the past, law professors are looking beyond law reviews, moving relevant and timely commentary to the Internet and the blogosphere.”
and maybe more importantly,
“The debate about law reviews isn’t simply academic. Rather, the issue puts into question the role of what professors should do when they’re not teaching. “Legal scholarship is at a crossroads,” says Ethan Leib, a young professor aiming for tenure at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. “The question we’re asking is: Is our job to advance knowledge through contributions to academic journals, or is it to contribute to the public conversation about law?”
What is the role of academic journals in the field of Judaic Studies? Who are their target audiences? Are scholars just trying to publish articles to fill their “tenure quota” at the expense of more important research, possibly more long-term, that they could be doing? Should scholars of Jewish Studies be concerned about “the public conversation”?
Update: More here from Concurring Opinions on the issue. We like Daniel J. Solove’s formulation, “While blogging is not a replacement for scholarship, I agree…that it is a useful form of sharing ideas and staying current.”