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cover of the book Theory's Empire

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cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

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cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

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cover of the book How Novels Think

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cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

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cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

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cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

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The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Sunday, September 09, 2007


Posted by Miriam Burstein on 09/09/07 at 03:59 PM

I’m discussing MLA style with my graduate students the week after next, a subject that never fails to generate polite yawns passionate enthusiam from all concerned, and, by a circuitous route, this led me to thinking about blogs.  Specifically, what happens when our article or book project incorporates material we’ve discussed on our blog, or at least says something which vaguely resembles (or more than vaguely resembles) something we’ve previously written on our blog.  After all, one common argument in favor of academic blogs is that they allow us to wax eloquent (possibly) about our work-in-progress.  To my knowledge, there are as yet no rules for defining what, in the context of later print publication, a blog post is

Do we:

1) Treat the blog as, in effect, a public working draft?
2) As a conference paper?
3) As a previous publication?

In the first instance, it wouldn’t be necessary to mention the previous appearance of your idea/concept/paragraph, much as one wouldn’t mention the (obvious) existence of a working draft--not necessarily even one circulated to a reading group (depending on a journal’s house style, as some don’t allow courtesy acknowledgments).  The second instance commonly calls for some sort of footnote, briefly noting that such-and-such developed from a conference paper delivered at X.  (But again, that doesn’t always happen.) In the third instance, you would have to go the whole hog and include formal permission from the previous publisher; in the case of a blog, obviously, that model wouldn’t quite function. 

What think you? Or, if you’ve actually developed scholarly work from a blog post or posts, how have you gone about acknowledging it? 


Holy mother of God, you mean we might have to document everything we’ve said previously on our blogs?  I suppose this, more than anything else, might cause people to shy away from academic blogging.

By Scott Eric Kaufman on 09/09/07 at 05:35 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Well, ideally, the answer to that question is “no.” As this is not an ideal world, though, and the Moses of academia has yet to bring down the appropriate commandments, I’m wondering if any protocol has emerged yet.

By Miriam Burstein on 09/09/07 at 05:48 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Think of it as claiming priority for your idea, however worthy it might be. You can’t claim priority on the basis of documents no one but you can verify. But if you’ve put it out there, in some fashion, where others can read it, then you can use that document to claim priority.

I may well be publishing a book of essays that includes a blog entry I wrote for the Moretti book event. I’ll treat it as a previous publication, as it is.

By Bill Benzon on 09/09/07 at 07:40 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Where there’s a specific, identifiable blog entry that bears a close relationship to a more formal piece, I acknowledge the entry as a prior working draft.  If we’re just talking about concepts that have been workshopped here and there on the blog, I’ll generally acknowledge this by including some kind of thank you to the folks who helped me refine the original concepts, and mention the blogs where these discussions took place.

By N Pepperell on 09/09/07 at 10:02 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I politely pretend that my blog doesn’t exist. This is the attitude I think the academy should take generally, if such isn’t already the case.

By on 09/11/07 at 03:00 PM | Permanent link to this comment

The problem with that—as Miriam points out—is that if someone Googles a passage from your book and lands (unknowingly) upon your blog, there’s no way to connect the printed word to the digital.  Charges of plagiarism could follow.  Or, and perhaps worse, the rumor mill could churn, &c.

By Scott Eric Kaufman on 09/11/07 at 04:11 PM | Permanent link to this comment

That’s why I write as little as possible on my blog, remain anonymous, and discourage people from visiting it.

Nevertheless, I take your point, Scott (and Miriam).

By on 09/12/07 at 02:51 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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