Blogging deemed beneath the hallowed halls of academia

After the International Studies Association proposes a ban on blogging for editors of its journals, faculty groups raise their swords.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. Muns via Wikimedia Commons

To blog, or not to blog: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer.

In a battle worthy of Shakespeare's famous scene in Hamlet, some members of the academic world have been raging. No, the fight wasn't about revenge for murder, it was about whether scholars should be allowed to blog.

The International Studies Association, a scholarly association with 6,200 members, announced on Monday that editors of its journals should be banned from blogging, according to the Guardian. The group said that the move was necessary for "maintaining and promoting a professional environment."

The news of the proposal came via the president of the ISA's foreign policy analysis section Stephen Saideman, who was opposed to the ban. After the ISA's announcement, Saideman took to his personal blog posting the proposal text and outlining his reasons at why he thought it's laughable.

"If we are concerned about professionalism of editors as they communicate with the outside world, we need to ask editors not to blog, not to tweet, not to engage in Facebook or any other social media," Saideman wrote. "Moreover, we need to worry about other forms of communication, too, right? such as writing op-eds or appearing on TV/radio, right?"

Saideman wasn't the only academic to get up in arms about the proposal. Dozens of other scholars and writers criticized the ban and faculty groups protested the proposal.

A professor of international politics at Tufts University, Daniel W. Drezner, told Inside Higher Ed, "I cannot see how this can be a viable long-term policy... at best, it's draconian, and at worst, an infringement of academic freedom."

It appears the protesters' public outcry was heard by the ISA. While the association had planned to vote on the proposal at an annual meeting in March, it instead announced the ban has been tabled for now, according to Inside Higher Ed.

ISA's president Harvey Starr sent an e-mail to the Governing Council of the ISA announcing his surrender.

"Along the lines of the ISA Code of Conduct, our aim was to protect academic freedom while fostering civil discourse and freedom to express valid professional evaluations of the work of others in the contemporary world of social media -- and to the issues that can arise with people confusing the personal blogs of the editors of ISA journals with the editorial policies for their journals," Starr wrote. "Clearly, however, this is a far more complex issue, and your voices have been heard."