A colleague recently drew my attention to a fascinating scenario that highlights the growing pains of scholarship in the digital age. Dr. Mark Goodacre, Associate Professor of Religion at Duke University, describes it in this blog post. He posted a rough draft thought on his blog and later discovered that it was critiqued in a peer-reviewed journal article. Dr. Goodacre reflects on this situation, wondering how or if this will impact the way the he and other academics write in their blogs. Blogging is not peer-reviewed, and many of us blog as a way of thinking out loud, sharing some of our rough draft ideas with the possibility of refining and expanding one of those musings into something that we might submit for peer review at a later date. As noted by Dr. Goodacre, this gives scholars pause about what they write in a blog,how it is read, and how it is used. Is it proper for one scholar to take the blog post of another and critique it in a peer-reviewed journal?
Other situations flip this question. Consider this post that discusses whether it is ethical for a scholar to critique a peer-reviewed article in a blog post rather than doing so in a peer-reviewed source. In other words, is it proper to extend a scientific debate into the blogosphere and not keep it within the confines of the peer-reviewed community? This question relates to the idea of post publication peer review, which often take the form of a letter to the editor or a follow up article, but now finds its way into blog posts, representing a sort of academic transmedia migration.
These scenarios highlight the changing nature of academic discourse in the digital world. I see little evidence that these matters will be resolved in the near future, especially given the fact that the boundaries and form of formal learning are being re-imagined for the digital age. The reality is that academic discourse and discourses in popular culture continue to mix in new and interesting ways, and I expect to see many more of these situations in the upcoming years.