Social Media in Scholarship and the Classroom

Every year the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations releases the results of its Teach Research and International Policy (TRIP) survey. The report is a good view of what’s going on in the field, what students are being taught, in what ways, and in a very generic sense, by whom. I found the page below fascinating.

I wrote a paper last year on the international intervention in Libya. As a result of the newness of the campaign I didn’t have a lot I could reference from academic sources. I was able to pull material on Responsibility to Protect (R2P), and of course some general information on interventions and historical facts about Libya, but just nothing on the Libyan intervention itself in the peer-reviewed journals.

I was however able to get a lot of commentary from notable academics like Michael Walzer, Stephen Walt and Charli Carpenter…from blogs and online journals. I would guess a full quarter of the references in the paper were to such sources. I don’t think that this is necessarily the vanguard of new academia. The arguments I used to support my claim were old and very well established in the traditional tree-bound literature. I was only seeking Libya-specific corroboration and the only place I could find it was online.

Which is all to say, my own habits notwithstanding, I am a little surprised to see that so many professors are citing blogs and Facebook content in their academic work. Over 3% of professors are citing Tweets!

Another big story here is the use of Wikileaks. Second only to blog content, Wikileaks documents have been cited in academic work by nearly 15% of those surveyed.

Read the full survey here. [PDF]