Sunday, October 07, 2007

Getting a handle on non-legal research

The last couple of weeks have taught me quite a bit about the world of social science research. I really didn't understand how very different what we call research in law is from research, well, pretty much everywhere else. Now I get it. I still have some ways to go to have any real facility for connecting the dots between an interesting idea that I'd like to know more about and a research question, a theoretical lens through which to view the question, methodologies for exploring it, observations to make about it, etc., but I am getting there.

I have refined my research question for my Web 2.0 class, and as it turns out, I have to do something in the nature of a literature review for Doctoral Research and Theory, and so I think that the lit review I need to do for my Web 2.0 research and DRT's lit review can be one and the same. That would be nice.

The idea I want to explore generally is blogs as scholarship. Not a lot has been written on this yet. What has been written suggests that legal blogs are in the forefront of the trend.

I could explore the subject from any one of many different directions. Do I want to count scholarly blogs, do a survey of the field, characterize bloggers with respect to their status within academe, find out how long they spend on blogs each week? Follow their careers for a year or so and see what effect blogging is having on them?

Or do I want to explore the character of blogs as more subjective communications situated within the array of more formal scholarly publications and communications media: law review or journal articles, conference proceedings, public access repositories such as Social Science Research Network (where early drafts appear, often before articles are even accepted for publication) and personal Website postings, among others?

Perhaps I might look at the power relationships evidenced by resistance to blogs as scholarship within academe, for example by looking at tenure and review committees' standards for what publications count and why. Or I might deconstruct blog-related discourses (how blogs are discussed in academe) to discover what's really going on below the surface.

Or I could don a constructivist's perspective to look at how the blog may be changing the process of peer-review in the making scholarship.

It's late. I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow starts another hectic week.

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