As you could imagine, given my research I can’t avoid doing it. A couple of years ago life was easy: you could always say “hardly anything has been published” and get away with it. Now things are more complicated, there is a lot of stuff all over the place
So, some of the challenges I’m struggling with:
Separating stories about what and how actually works from how things might or should be done. At this moment coming up with all kinds of normative or speculative ideas about business uses of weblogs is not a problem. The problem is that there are only a few studies of what actually happens in practice.
Figuring out how far you can (scientifically) trust a certain story based on explicit indications on what data has been collected and why.
Deciding how far I should go “out of the scientific” in selecting what to cite. Academic publications on business blogs are scarce, while there are quite a lot of white papers, case-studies from commercial companies, business publications or general media stories on the topic. And, of course, there are lots of ideas worth citing across the blogosphere.
The last one is a difficult decision. For an academic getting into research on business blogging it wouldn’t be an issue: just run search through databases of scientific publications, work with the results and pretend that the rest doesn’t exist. For me, learning about interesting issues in the field from weblogs years before something along the same lines gets “properly” published, it is a challenge. I can not pretend that the body of knowledge in weblogs doesn’t exist, but, bounded by academic conventions, I can’t figure a good way to fit it into my publications.
Even more, even if I try to give an overview of what is there on the topic across weblogs, I can’t do it according to academic standards that aim for completeness and objectivity. I know that I shouldn’t even try to provide a complete and objective picture when giving an overview on post on whatever issue across weblogs.
Why it’s so incredibly easier and more rewarding to write a blog post than a piece of scientific text? Why can’t I have best of both worlds: grounded claims of academic publications and the style of a blog post?
Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2006/11/30.html#a1863; comments are here.