Jan 28, 2012

Blogs and science in developing countries

Blogs are changing the way research is passed on. Journals might disappear and we might end up with bloggers as gatekeepers of "good research." Paul Krugman is a pioneer in this discussion. He argued:
. . . [W]hen thinking about how economics works as a discipline, is to realize that the traditional model of submit, get refereed, publish, and then people will read your work broke down a long time ago. In fact, it had more or less fallen apart by the early 80s.Even then, nobody at a top school learned stuff by reading the journals; it was all working papers, with the journals serving as tombstones.
Paul Romer argues that his own research has benefit from blogs:
The sequence with Tyler, Dave, and John suggests how blogs might change economic discourse. Blogs are a more open way to organize competition in the market for ideas. Blogs also allow more people to see economists thinking out loud, something that used to require a seat in the seminar room.
What are the implications of this transformation for science in developing world? 

(1) Academic journals that have been popular in the US and Europe during the late 19th and 20th century are rare in developing countries. It is likely that journals will never become popular in developing countries because scholars working in this region will skip them and  move straight to a scientific model based on working papers and blogs. 

(2) Bloggers in developed countries are making more visible important research that can be "imported" by bloggers in developing countries. For example, the results of a new working paper on agricultural development in Belgium or Kenya can be analyzed and discussed in the context of another country such as Guatemala or El Salvador. 

This process can be accelerated in universities by including a class on blogs and science in masters and PhD programs, may be even at the undergraduate level.  

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