Thursday, March 28, 2013

This blog and scholarship in archaeology

What is the scholarly or scientific status of blogs like this one? Is there scholarly value here, or is this just an ephemeral platform to rant and rave occasionally? A blog entry is not a rigorous scholarly work, mainly because it is not peer reviewed. Sometimes I say smart things in a scholarly fashion, and sometimes I say clueless things in a non-scholarly fashion. When I have said particularly dumb things, people sometimes catch me and correct my errors, which is great. Scholarship advances through debate and correcting errors. But many of the points I make have serious scholarly value or context, and I try to emphasize those posts by providing citations and bibliographies.

I have just seen a case where one or more of my entries had a positive effect on a reader's scholarship. A few months ago Di Hu, a grad student at Berkeley, emailed me a draft of a paper on ethnogenesis and thanked me for my post on identity, which evidently provided her with some references. It was a good paper and I sent her some comments. Her paper is now posted online-first for the Journal of Archaeological Research (posted here, if you have access). She also posted copies on and Selected Works.

The paper's acknowledgements contains this sentence:

"Smith’s blog "Publishing Archaeology" proved instrumental for key citations and ideas." 

So, thank you, Di, for the mention. While I get quite a few positive comments on this blog, most seem to be from people who enjoy it, rather than people whose research and scholarship benefit from it. While it is nice if I can sometimes entertain people, it is much nicer and more gratifying if I can help readers in an intellectual or professional sense.

Students out there: this post has a keyword, "Student tips" because Di is doing what you other students out there should be doing: publishing papers, and posting them on the internet.

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