The Power of Blogging

Historian Andrew McGregor is the founder and co-editor of the US Sports History blog. His article in the Journal of Sports History (vol. 44, no. 2, Summer 2017) discusses blogging as a new form of public scholarship as well as some of the secrets behind his blog’s success. Some excerpts from his piece are below:

On blogging as scholarship:

“Scholarship is about discovery (original research), integration (synthesizing
ideas), application (making history useful and public), and teaching. Each of these
categories provides ways for blogs to be not just scholarship but innovative spaces.” –from Ernest Boyer’s book ‘Scholarship Reconsidered’

On the skills that blogging teaches:

“Sara Georgini, of The Junto, described many of the skills that blogging teaches young scholars, such as time management, writing for public audiences, and providing space to refine one’s craft.”

On the guidelines used to launch his blog:

When I launched the blog, I followed the model of USIH, relying on the advice of its
veteran bloggers to carefully craft editorial guidelines and posting procedures… Sport in American History’s early success was due in part to this orderliness and its fortuitous timing.

On the goals of the blog:

From its inception, I had three primary goals for Sport in American History: (1) to promote and popularize the study of sport history, (2) to provide a space for multidisciplinary scholarly communication about the history of sports, and (3) to engage with the broad public by publishing accessible and informative articles related to sport history.

On public engagement:

The blog represents an attempt by scholars to engage with the public. Echoing
Hockey in Society’s vision for a “public sociology,” I hoped to animate my public and digital history training to build a platform for public sport history scholarship. It seemed to me that, because sports are a popular subject and their history attracts the interest of people who might not be interested in other historical topics, there was an untapped audience out there waiting for us. I planned to reach this audience by engaging with current events, recent films, and new books, helping people interested in sports to learn more about their history. Thus, unlike traditional journals, openly accessible blogs are an ideal place for sport historians to provide timely insight and depth into sporting events and sports stories. As a testament to this impact, the New Pittsburgh Courier and ESPN’s Outside the Lines have drawn upon the expertise of Sport in American History’s contributors and blog posts in their coverage.

On the role of blogs in scholarly communication:

Blogging is scholarship. It plays a vital role in the digital era, creating, connecting, and maintaining scholarly networks, ideas, and opportunities.

Read the full article, “The Power of Blogging: Rethinking Scholarship and Reshaping Boundaries,” on Project Muse.

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