ISA Blogging Update: Committee Reports Recommendations

by on 2015-01-05- Leave a reply

Last winter, the ISA executive committee proposed new rules for editors of ISA journals that would restrict their blogging.  This led to a pretty hostile reaction.  At the ISA meeting, the proposal was sent to committee.  The committee has circulated its report and recommendations.

What do they recommend?  Basically, the recommendations:
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Discourse Analysis of Internet Trolls?: the whys and hows of analyzing online content*

by on 2014-06-02- 3 Comments

Online mediums can be perceived as attracting wacky ranters unrepresentative contributors and exchanges and, therefore, forums or chats are often treated as if they do not provide an effective picture/sample of political discourse. But since over 80% of Americans are online, 66% of American adults have engaged in civil or political activities with social media, and about half of those who visit discussion groups post/contribute, isn't this an interesting- and increasingly relevant- medium for a discourse analysis? Why cut out such a vast political resource? What is different about 'doing' a discourse analysis of online content? How would you even start such an analysis? And, why aren't those like myself- who blog and engage in political discussions as part of my daily/weekly activity- doing more to treat online content as part of what we consider to be 'legitimate' political discourse? Well, I think it comes down to methodology. Here is a very brief intro to some of the opportunities and challenges to conducing a discourse analysis of online content (PS getting students to do such an analysis is a great assignment).

1. What makes a discourse analysis of online content different from an analysis of printed text?
First, (and probably somewhat obvious) online material uses multiple modes of expression, including emoticons, hyperlinks, images, video, moving images (gifs), graphic design, and color. This multimodality adds complexity (and, I argue, richness) to a discourse analysis- but the researcher must be aware of how particular signals are used, (for example, 'iconic' or popular memes or gifs (like feminist Ryan Gosling or the Hilary Clinton texting image begin to take on particular meanings themselves). Second, online content is unstable, instant, and edited in ways unavailable to print (even the use of striking through signals 'editing'/alternative meaning/irony etc- but this requires interpretation). Also, articles, conversations, and posts, can be published, responded to, retweeted, then retracted or edited all within a few hours.
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Some Personal Reflections on Social Media and Tenure

by on 2014-02-15- 12 Comments

Editor's note: this post first appeared on my personal blog.

As some of you may know, I'm up for tenure this year, and it's not going to work out. I don't want to get into the details of anything that ought not be discussed in public, but I thought I'd share some quick thoughts that some of you might find to be of interest.

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NYT and Poli Sci Public Engagement

by on 2014-02-15- 1 Comment

The ISA mess is the gift that keeps on giving.  Now Nicholas Kristof has written a piece in his NYT column that "addresses" the controversy.  The problem is that the column is out of date.  Not just in focusing on the ISA proposal that has been beaten back by the forces of reason (that would be me and other bloggers?), but that other canards get lumped in.  While some noted bloggers have been denied tenure, it is highly unlikely that their blogging did them in.  Indeed, there is more pressure by lots of folks (presidents, provosts, deans, grant agencies) to do more outreach.

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Blogging and Teaching — and the Wrongheaded ISA Proposal

by on 2014-01-28- 2 Comments

Steve has a nice roundup of many of the central concerns with ISA's misguided policy proposal to limit those involved in editing ISA journals from blogging.   I'd like to focus on one additional element.

For many of us located principally in the teaching side of the profession, we realize and appreciate the significance and utility of blogs for pedagogical purposes.  Here in the Five Colleges, a key part of communicating with students is through various forms of social media.  My department has a Twitter feed and a Facebook page that features a fantastic daily blog by my colleague Vinnie Ferraro. Vinnie's blog provides daily content and opinion to support his courses in World Politics and American Foreign Policy.  I have a blog for my course on International Human Rights Advocacy in Theory and Practice and I routinely assign a number of readings from IR and human rights blogs as a key part of the course.  I do this because there is some fantastic content out there that presents and synthesizes materials quickly and more effectively than many peer-reviewed journals can.  This semester my students will watch Kony 2012 and then read several blog posts on Opinio-Juris debating multiple angles of the video.  These posts are an excellent format for undergraduate students -- there are multiple views expressed with links to a variety of academic and advocacy literatures.  Given the natural 18-month to two-year delay from an event to peer-review publication, I'm still waiting for some decent peer-reviewed content that provides the range views and analysis conveyed in these posts.
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Tuesday Morning Linkage: ISA and Blogging Edition

by on 2014-01-28- 5 Comments

The International Studies Association Executive Committee has forwarded a proposal to the duck earmuffsGoverning Council that meets at the Association's annual meeting that addresses blogging.  The proposal and my take on it are discussed at my blogThe essence of it is to prohibit those involved in the editing of journals from blogging.  The text of it goes beyond that, assuming/asserting that blogging is inherently unprofessional.  That is not a message that the ISA should be sending out now or ever, really.

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Mixing Scholarly with Blogging Identities

by on 2013-11-18- 2 Comments

[Note:  This is a guest post from Mira Sucharov and Brent E. Sasley.  Mira Sucharov is Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She blogs at and at Open Zion. Follow her on Twitter.  Brent Sasley is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. He blogs at Mideast Matrix. Follow him on Twitter.]

Changes to our technology and to our scholarly norms present new challenges to scholars who engage in the public sphere. More and more academics in Political Science, and especially International Relations, are blogging, tweeting, and writing for online magazines like Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and The National Interest, while many with specialization in a specific region or issue-area contribute to region- or issue-specific media.

There is a small but expanding literature on how these changes do and should affect the scholarly enterprise. Often hidden beneath such discussions is how all this affects the scholar herself. There is an inherent assumption that scholars are just that—dispassionate analysts who can look at a set of evidence and draw objective conclusions from it.
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Rodrik’s Paradox is No Paradox

by on 2013-03-04- 4 Comments

Last month, Dani Rodrik wrote a piece for Project Syndicate that went all kinds of viral.  In it, he explains why he no longer views himself as a political economist.  The upshot: because if he believed the stuff he used to believe, he'd have to accept that there's not much room for improving the world through op-eds, and that's not something he's prepared to accept.

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Another Virtue of Blogsphere Engagement?

by on 2013-01-15- 4 Comments

PM's latest post, "Nobody cares about foreign policy" (note to self: we need a style manual to resolve whether, for example, post titles should be capitalized), was prompted by a proseminar we both attended on Monday.

At this proseminar, the always-interesting and invariably thoughtful Elizabeth Saunders presented part of her book project: a paper entitled "The Electoral Disconnection in US Foreign Policy."

Among other things, Saunders argues that theories of "democratic international relations" -- particularly those surrounding audience costs -- need to incorporate a central insight from the last fifty years of American politics research: that most voters are "low information"* when it comes to many things political--and especially international affairs.** It follows, therefore, that elites who provide "cues" to the voting public in general, partisans, ethnic groups, etc. often operate as key intermediaries in the relationship between foreign policy and electoral pressures.

You should definitely read the paper, but that isn't the point of this post.

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In Social Science, You’re always Under-read, so How do you Choose ? (2)

by on 2012-02-27- Leave a reply

Here is part one, where I noted Walt, the Duck, and Walter Russell Mead as the IR blogs I read almost always despite the avalanche
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In Social Science, You’re always Under-read, so How do You Choose ? (1)

by on 2012-02-24- 12 Comments

If there is one constant to modern social science, it is that you are always under-read. There is always some critical book you missed, some
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Beware the Blog?

by on 2011-06-14- Leave a reply

Being new to the blogging world, I have been thinking a lot about the utility and influence of blogs. Blogs seem appealing in so many
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The Blogs of War

by on 2010-10-13- 9 Comments

Later this week, I will be participating in a roundtable discussion with my esteemed colleagues Juan Cole, Manan Ahmed, Joshua Foust and Madiha Tahir on
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Fresh (and Re-Freshed) Duck

by on 2010-09-18- Leave a reply

In addition to being blown away by the recent Duck facelift (ht to Dan), you may have also noticed a slight shuffling in the roster.
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In the blogosphere…

by on 2010-06-28- Leave a reply

Since I blogged about Journolist here in March 2009, I thought my followup (confessional) was worth mentioning now.
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Digital Burqa

by on 2010-03-22- Leave a reply

A few days ago, Charli pondered "whether or not the Internet and social media empowers civil society or instead simply offers states new tools of
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Pondering Social Media and Global Civil Society

by on 2010-03-17- Leave a reply

Random connections between things: Today, I'm at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy giving a guest lecture on global advocacy networks, in a class
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Juggling Blog-spots

by on 2010-01-14- Leave a reply

Beginning tomorrow, I'll be kicking off a blogging stint over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, where I'll post material regularly on foreign policy, pop culture
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Sting Operations

by on 2009-08-28- Leave a reply

Maureen Dowd's op-ed Stung by the Perfect Sting rattled some cages in the blogosphere this week. Laura McKenna calling her a whiner, implying the post
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Speaking of Coding

by on 2009-08-19- Leave a reply

The American Political Science Association is offering a short course at this year's conference on "Coding the Blogosphere," which will introduce some new tools for
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