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« Part Four: Content Matters: Evaluating Blogs and Online Supplements as Scholarship | Main | Part Two: Connecting Laypeople with the Law Through Blogs »

Part Three: Linking “Electronic Scholarship” and “Traditional Scholarship”

This post continues a five-part series examining legal scholarship in the electronic world.  Parts IV-V will appear during the next two weeks. Sam Kamin is an Associate Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He has served as a blogger on Concurring Opinions, MoneyLaw, and PrawfsBlawg, among others.  You can find his research here.

By Sam Kamin

There is a wide variety of law blogs on the market today.  Some of these blogs cover law school gossip—the comings and goings of faculty and deans, the rankings of schools, and the like.  Some are a resource on substantive law, a place to keep up with daily judicial opinions and legislative developments.  Some are of general interest, providing a way to keep a finger on the pulse of the legal academy, to know what issues and topics are making the rounds and garnering interest.  Faculty read these blogs and write for them to engage in debate and discussions with their colleagues scattered throughout the country.

However, blogs are more than just a way to keep on top of the issues of the day; they have also become an important and emerging tool in the production of faculty scholarship.  Faculty use blogs to aid their scholarship in at least two important ways.  First, blogs are a place to do legal research—to find answers to important substantive questions.  Second, blogs are a way to get valuable, early feedback on scholarly ideas.

1.  Blogs as Research Tools.

A blogger can use her readers as willing, unpaid research assistants.  A query posted on a blog is instantly transmitted to those most likely to know the answer.  Topic-specific blogs—the Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, the Legal Theory Blog, the Workplace Prof Blog, to name only a few—are read by literally hundreds of experts in their respective fields.  Using these experts to answer a question—has anyone seen a case holding X, an article arguing Y, a news story reporting Z?—can usually produce timely and informed answers.  The general topic blogs—Concurring Opinions or PrawfsBlawg, for example—with their thousands of daily readers, can provide a different kind of expert feedback.  Scholars in disparate fields can bring unexpected perspectives, making connections and contributions that the blogger could not have anticipated; a constitutional law topic might generate responses from readers with expertise in torts, contracts, and criminal law.  An awareness and understanding of these various perspectives can greatly strengthen the author’s paper.

2.  Blogs as Sounding Boards.

Perhaps equally important, blogs are a place to try out new ideas.  Before blogging, abstracts and article drafts were shared at conferences or with friends and colleagues, but the first time that an idea was widely circulated was when it was completed and in print.  Today it is possible to post an abstract or an even less formal kernel of an idea on a blog and receive feedback at the earliest stages of thinking and writing about a topic.  This early feedback can keep the author from stumbling down blind alleys, from writing a piece that is preempted by another’s work, or from wasting time on an idea that readers agree does not merit the time and hard work of the drafting process.  Posting an emerging idea and having it struck down by a blog’s readership can be difficult, but not nearly so difficult as receiving criticism after nine months or a year of researching and writing at a time when an article cannot be changed or improved.  In this way, blogs' informal style encourages faculty to share and test their ideas.


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  • Response
    Scholarship should be given to students as that will increase their moral and they would study more hard. There are many talented student who get higher marks but they don’t have enough money to support their college fees so scholarship program should be taken a little serious.

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