Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Robin Hanson: Will academics respect blog postings?

Pertinent to the discussion on academic vs. "amateur" sabermetric research, Robin Hanson posts at Overcoming Bias:

"So can we create an academic blog world, where blog posts get academic credit? If someone gets a Nobel prize for developing an idea that was first explained in someone else's carefully written but short blog post, will that blog author be celebrated, or will he be ignored as the sort of distraction that academics can't be expected to pay attention to?"

Worth reading the whole thing.

Also from Hanson's post,

"People almost never look up ten year old newspaper columns, but they do often read ten year old academic papers. So an academic paper may still have a better chance at long term influence than a newspaper column."

The latter quote is why I think that publishing research in "By the Numbers" is valuable, even if that research is already published online. As BTN editor, I admittedly may be biased, and a lot of people disagree with me on this – Tangotiger, for instance (see comments starting



At Wednesday, February 07, 2007 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Tangotiger said...

Great point about the long-term influence.

One of the reasons of writing The Book was because of the timelessness of it, of it being bound in one spot, for everyone to look at. The Hidden Game will always be the first stop, and that's because it's in book format. In 10 years, my blog will barely be referenced, and The Book will be much more referenced, even if my blog will contain more useful resources.

Therefore, I think a possible avenue is for bloggers to produce an annual, or every-second-year, compendium of their blog entries, edited to some extent.

There are cheap (free even) ways to distribute that material, and Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts did such a thing on

At Wednesday, February 07, 2007 2:45:00 PM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

I really like the annual compendium idea ... that would make a good project for the SABR Statistical Analysis committee. There's lots of people there looking for a good volunteer project, and this would be quite valuable.

At Thursday, February 08, 2007 11:56:00 PM, Blogger Ted said...

Tying in with Tom's comments in the linked discussion, perhaps By The Numbers could be reconceptualized to help accomplish this?

I've increasingly found the newsletter-style format to be awkward. Aside from not "feeling" like a research organ should, the publication delays probably don't encourage submissions. (Yes, I realize that's a coordination problem -- if there were a ton of submissions to BTN, there wouldn't be delays while waiting for enough material.)

But, what if BTN were to adopt a model similar to some online academic journals, in which publication to the web in an individual article format, professionally formated via a nice LaTeX style file into PDF files, was essentially immediate upon acceptance, and which explicitly had a liberal policy vis-a-vis publishing essentially the same research in other outlets (e.g., blogs). Then, for those wanting the solidity of a print version, print volumes could be made available once or twice a year.

This might address some of the issues with the ephemeral nature of blogs. It's undeniable that one of the important things about academic journals is that you can get your hands on them. The advantage BTN has is that it's sponsored by an organization, SABR, that can archive and disseminate issues, hopefully for a long, long time from now.

BTW, Robin Hanson's a great guy; I overlapped with him at Caltech and shared office space for a while.

At Friday, February 09, 2007 12:37:00 AM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

That's a great idea ... when a BTN article is accepted, we publish it immediately, and run a "regular" issue when we have enough material.

But to be honest, I'm not 100% convinced that the reason for lack of submissions is the publication delay.

But you guys tell me. Tango, arb, everyone: if we got your article up within a couple of days of submission, would that change your mind about submitting to BTN?

At Friday, February 09, 2007 12:40:00 AM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

Oh, and for the record, the last two issues of BTN each came out within a couple of weeks of the main (longest) articles being submitted. For the last couple of years, we've gone to press immediately upon having enough material.

At Friday, February 09, 2007 6:46:00 PM, Blogger Ted said...

Time-to-appearance isn't something that was an enormous issue to for me, personally; I was riffing off what Tango had written.

That said, part of the motivation behind my thoughts is that *individual articles* don't get a lot of attention in the current newsletter format.

To indirectly answer the question, if BTN started looking more like, say, the way _Theoretical Economics_ operates:

or perhaps even Economics Bulletin

I would on the margin be more likely to submit stuff.

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