The Political Scientist as Blogger

May 9 '11

The new issue of PS: Political Science and Politics contains a symposium about “pracademics.”  In the words of the symposium’s editors, Michael McDonald and Christopher Mooney, pracademics means “the creation of professional connections between full-time, university-based political scientists and the practical political world that they study.”  The symposium includes articles about campaign consulting, foreign policy, and serving as an expert witness.

My contribution is on blogging.  I talk about the nuts and bolts as well as the potential costs and benefits, especially for junior faculty.  I will highlight one benefit that I’ve derived from blogging:

bq. Blogging about others’ research also builds another useful skill: appreciative thinking. Appreciative thinking means identifying and emphasizing the positive, which can be difficult. Graduate training is centered on critical thinking; after all, most dissertations are motivated by the belief that previous work is either wrong or incomplete. Academia is competitive, has too many scholars and too few faculty positions, and offers only occasional accolades at best. Academics can easily fall prey to jealousy, status anxiety, and resentment. When you regularly publicize others’ research, blogging can serve as an antidote to these maladies. In the years since The Monkey Cage was founded, my attitude has changed.When I receive a scholarly journal and skim abstracts in search of blogging material, naturally, some articles interest me, while others do not. But now, I dwell much less on the latter and much more on the articles I do like and how they can be effectively summarized in a blog post.

It’s corny, but true.

Elsewhere in the article, I note what Chris Blattman considers his most “ignominious” quote, report on the fact that Henry is a “nazi scumbag moron” and also a “mick,” and relive maybe the nastiest comment thread in the history of The Monkey Cage.

An ungated copy of the article is here.