Why a blog on a graduate student project?

In discussing this project with one of my professors, I thought I would provide a brief reflection about why it is important to keep a record of a project like this in a blog format, and, more importantly, why I think it is important for future graduate students, historians and scholars to do the same.

Personally, I think that keeping a record of ongoing projects like this one is important for three reasons:

  1. It is a way to further “scholarly communication” (what my whole topic is about) in some important new ways.
  2. It creates a record of the project for future scholars to follow
  3. It allows others to use my work for future scholarship

“Scholarly communication” at its core is about finding ways to share research with colleagues (and other audiences who may be interested in my work).  Doing this kind of work publicly allows me to

  • find others who are working on similar projects, or even those who might be able to help with technical issues as I play with files.
  • show others who may be doing similar projects what does and does not work (and hopefully avoid my mistakes).
  • build on what I did to refine my ideas and further the debate about my findings.

Electronic methods of dissemination help to perform scholarship in some unique ways, and though there may still be a role for formal published and peer-reviewed articles and books (more on that maybe in a future post), I think there is also value in informal communication in venues like this.

Others may have different opinions, but for all of the reasons above, and maybe more reasons as I do more work on the topic, I think it is important for me to share my nascent ideas on the history of scholarly communication in an informal channel like this one.

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