Should it be a research paper or a blog post?

post by Sherrinford · 2020-09-24T08:09:08.179Z · score: 15 (10 votes) · LW · GW · 3 comments

This is a question post.

Contents

  Answers
    10 AllAmericanBreakfast
    7 Mati_Roy
    2 rockthecasbah
    1 Mary Chernyshenko
None
3 comments

The answer to this question may seem obvious to some, but let's see.

 

My impression is that some people write long blog posts about things that they perceive as innovative new ideas in philosophy, AI research, or whatever. So how do you decide that your idea should be a blogpost (here or on some other site) instead of submitting it to a journal?

Is the university research system just too closed? Or do you think it is superfluous?

Or do you think that you can do it faster for a blog? (This may not be unambiguously good. My impression is that there is less literature research for some blog articles than I would like to see, which often creates noise.)

Or do you want to have feedback for a blogpost first and submit later?

(Note that the question can be generalized to other media and forms, e.g. magazine essay vs. journal article.)

Answers

answer by AllAmericanBreakfast · 2020-09-24T15:44:01.091Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think my most innovative posts have been in the fields of epidemiology and phenomenological psychology.

I’m pretty sure they’re innovative, in that the specific ideas don’t have an equivalent research article floating around out there. But they shouldn’t be published, because they lack the unambiguous clarity and reputation-staking that a research article is meant to convey. I didn’t go for that because of lack of know-how, lack of confidence, perceived barriers to academic publication that I mostly think are good, the fact that I didn’t want to put in the work, and that I mostly wrote them for me and for this community.

I really think we have something special going on here. It’s not perfect, but it’s unusual.

answer by Mati_Roy · 2020-09-27T18:39:19.754Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Brian Tomasik wrote Is It Better to Blog or Formally Publish?

comment by Sherrinford · 2020-10-15T08:39:43.672Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a helpful link, thanks.

answer by rockthecasbah · 2020-09-24T23:28:50.967Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I use blogposts to explore new ideas, improve my writing and publish intermediary ideas. At first articles were difficult for me because no one will read bad articles and give you feedback on your writing/ideas. But people are happy to read a blogpost and provide criticism. But my incentives professionally to blog are much lower than my incentives to produce articles.

comment by Sherrinford · 2020-09-25T07:22:50.528Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So you do both, but you blog pseudonymously?

answer by Mary Chernyshenko · 2020-09-25T15:42:56.825Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A paper.

People reading your blog and providing advice would probably want to keep reading it and style their commentary to accommodate that desire. People referring to your paper in some way / including it into their own introduction or discussion sections are probably going to be far less involved with you the author.

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comment by ryan_b · 2020-09-24T14:24:28.628Z · score: 14 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Speaking as a consumer of papers and blog posts rather than as a producer of them: in general there should be few papers that don't also have blog posts.

Research papers, by explicit rule or unfortunate convention, are practically anti-communicative. Their goal is not to present an idea clearly and persuasively, but rather to present it authoritatively. This puts a lot of emphasis on displaying the amount of prior research, and virtually none on effectively communicating the concept, the methods, and the evidence. The only function a paper has, from my perspective, is to put the idea on the official record.

By contrast, a well-constructed blog is a superior communication instrument. The intuitions can be discussed in a way that more clearly matches the researcher's thought process; different intuitive perspectives can be usefully compared and contrasted; media other than static images can be employed. There aren't restrictions on the tools of analysis.

comment by rockthecasbah · 2020-09-24T23:28:15.576Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Surprisingly, that is mostly true in my experience. Good articles overcome the challenges of the medium to do both, but most articles are not good. As a beginner writer, conveying your ideas, evidence and why it is important is easier in blog form.

comment by Dave Lindbergh (dave-lindbergh) · 2020-09-24T14:35:13.047Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If that's true, the field is broken.