The Irish law blog Cearta.ie is offline this morning after its owner, Dr. Eoin O’Dell of Trinity College, shut it down in response to a decision regarding its academic value.
Responding to queries from his followers on Twitter this morning, Dr. O’Dell explained that he had shut down his blog because the Head of TCD Law School had told him that it did not count as academic work.
There has been a strong reaction on Twitter. Dr O’Dell has been very influential in the discussion of copyright and digital rights in Ireland, and recently chaired the Copyright Review Committee which presented its report to Minister Sean Sherlock in October.
Many of those who expressed their disappointment at the news are themselves active and influential figures in the areas of law, journalism and technology in Ireland. Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, Professor Donncha O’Connell tweeted his support:
@cearta Eoin, just picking up on tweets re your blog. Very sorry to hear this. Generosity and impact should be valued
— Donncha O'Connell (@donnchanuig) December 4, 2013
@cearta @odowdt @301N god forbid academia should have a public service role…!
— Deirdre OShaughnessy (@deshocks) December 4, 2013
@cearta This is really very disheartening. I hope you keep @301N at least & that perhaps a new HoS will see things differently.
— John O'Dowd (@odowdt) December 4, 2013
Responding to comments on Twitter, Dr. O’Dell, agreed that there is academic value in online engagement, but said that blogging is deprecated by the Head of TCD Law School because it is not peer-reviewed.
@CJAMcMahon @odowdt It's not so much an antediluvian atttitude to a new publication method per se, as an exclusive focus on peer review
— Eoin O'Dell (@cearta) December 4, 2013
Thanks for the support, Conn.
However, I think that “disagreement” is an overstatement. As you say, I asked my Head of School some time ago whether the blog counts as an academic output, and she said no. Although I continued to blog thereafter, I did so at a steadily reducing rate. When it came time to renew my hosting subscription at the end of November, I decided that the time had come to bite the bullet and allow the blog to lapse. There is no disagreement, simply my reaction to a decision by my Head of School. There is no real story here, let alone any controversy.
I am very very touched by all the support I have received today. I will probably find a way to host an archive of the blog on an open access platform in due course. And I may even revive the blog in a more congenial environment. Meantime, I will focus on peer-review paper publications.
All the best,
PS. I should add that the headline is inaccurate to the extent that TCD does see online engagement as academic research outputs. It’s not a TCD decision, just a local decision in the Law School. E
Points taken. I’ve amended the article. I agree that it’s important not to overstate things, but I think there is a broader question here about the value of blogging in general. I agree that your Head of School’s position is perfectly reasonable from a particular point of view. in the circumstances it’s also reasonable and logical for you to decide not to expend effort and money on blogging for no reward.
The broader question I see is just that: how should bloggers get rewarded for the value they provide?
I don’t know the answer, but if this story leads to a helpful discussion about it then I think it is worthwhile.
For a number of reasons, I am almost certain that I will never return to college to add to the primary degree I got 20 years ago. That doesn’t mean that I don’t value the traditional academic path, but I think that there are many like me who will not engage with it.
I’ve got a lot of value from bloggers over the years – both academics and others. I’ve also struggled with my own blogging. Is it fruitful? Am I rewarded for this work? (I am now. Blacknight pays my wages). If not monetarily, then am I otherwise rewarded? And if i’m not rewarded, would my efforts be better spent otherwise?
As you say, people have expressed their support and said how valuable they have found your blog. My question is: if you find it valuable, how should the writer be rewarded for that?
Thanks for amending the headline. I’m still bemused that this is a story, though.