Heap, Tania Patricia
An Investigation Into The Blogging Practices Of Academics And Researchers.
The Open University.
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This research project investigated the experiences of academics and researchers using blogs to support their practice. The three research questions were: to identify the academics' and researchers' motivations for beginning and maintaining a blog, the contribution of blogging to their learning in the profession, and the challenges experienced.
The research questions were investigated using several methods. Five datasets were collected from 26 participants. A questionnaire was first administered to collect background information about the bloggers, and was analysed quantitatively. Then, an initial unstructured interview of one open-ended question was conducted by email. The unstructured interview was analysed using descriptive phenomenology. A follow-on semi-structured interview was conducted and analysed by applying thematic analysis. Blog content was collected in parallel: textual extracts were analysed using discourse analysis and visual extracts by applying thematic/saliency analysis.
Results revealed varied reasons for beginning a blog. For example, the blog can be used as a repository of 'half-baked' ideas. Blogging contributed to the academics' and researchers' learning in the profession in multiple ways. Academic bloggers, for example, can quickly reach a wider audience compared to other forms of academic publishing. Among the challenges, there were concerns over managing confidential information in public, and intellectual property issues. Regarding the methodological contribution of the research, suggestions on strategies for mixing and matching different research methods for data collection and analysis have been provided.
An empirically-grounded framework of blog use in academia and research has been derived based on research findings and scholarship models in the literature. The framework describes how characteristics of digital scholarship such as openness and sharing, are manifested through blogging. The framework can be used to guide academics and researchers who are interested in taking up blogging as a scholarly practice.
Finally, empirically-grounded guidelines on using blogs in academia and research have been derived. The guidelines were evaluated by four practitioners. Future work includes recruiting more practitioners to evaluate the guidelines.
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