Students, academic blogs and websites: A few questions

In a few week’s time I will be lecturing to first year history students on how they should use websites and digital sources. I’ve given this lecture several times now and I want to revise it. I’m sure we are all aware of the benefits of digital sources. I doubt any of us would now object to students using the web to enhance their work. It is also unlikely now that students don’t use websites for their essays and maybe even seminars. We even now ask our students to write blogs.

This has led me to wonder more about how academic blogs should be used and viewed by students. When I first gave my lecture this wasn’t really an issue. We weren’t really blogging as a discipline. Yet the public engagement agenda has encouraged us to disseminate our research on more open platforms. For this reason I wondered if I could ask bloggers and non-bloggers to reflect on the practice of blogs and how we want them to be used by students.

* Can/ should academic blogs be cited in student essays?
* How should we view academic blogs?
* What makes a good or ‘bad’ academic blog?
* Are students the intended audience for academic blogs?
* How should we define academic blogs? Where do historically informed blogs stand?

Lastly, do you have any examples of ‘problem’ websites other then Wikipedia? I would really like to show my students some examples of the good, the bad and the ugly.

I would love to hear what you think. I’ve been mulling over these questions for a while and thought I would throw them out to you. You can comment in the box below or email me here


One thought on “Students, academic blogs and websites: A few questions

  1. It seems to me that this needs to be part of a larger conversation on evaluating the credibility of research sources. Sometimes the newspaper articles I see cited in student papers are as bad as the worst blog posts, albeit usually better written. When using these types of sources one has to identify the argument, check its logic, and note what evidence is provided. Beyond this, maybe you can point them to some blogs or blog posts that you think would be useful for their research.

    In answer to one of your specific question, I absolutely believe that students are amongst the intended audience for academic blogs. How to define an “academic blog,” though is difficult. I personally favor a loose definition: a blog written by someone with advanced academic credentials with the direct intention to inform through evidence based arguments. I hope this helps.

    My own blog – very much a work in progress – can be found at

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