Blog cited in a peer-reviewed journal

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Bill Caraher men­tioned recently that Law and Literature are fields which are accept­ing cita­tions of blog posts in art­icles. We can add another to the list, Archaeology.

Giulio Magli has a paper on the Orientation of Roman towns in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology this month. I’m not going to com­ment much on his con­clu­sions because it would mean writ­ing up extens­ive amounts of work in pro­gress for a blog. What I will draw atten­tion to is the bibliography.

citation

Yes it’s me.

I’ve been work­ing on a stat­ist­ical model for ana­lys­ing Greek temple align­ments. If it’s sound then it would work not only for sets of astro­nom­ical align­ments, but also pos­sibly ques­tions about coin dis­tri­bu­tions or plant pop­u­la­tions or things fur­ther afield than archae­ology. That’s if. It’s work-in-progress.

I’m not a stat­ist­i­cian, nor are many of my inten­ded audi­ence. So I’ve devised a new model which I hope is historian-friendly and applied the model to a dis­tri­bu­tion of ori­ent­a­tions of Roman camps (writ­ten up in OJA) and tried to see if there’s any­thing to be said. The ori­ginal paper by Richardson had a flaw in its applic­a­tion of Chi-squared, as noted by Peterson. Peterson is a far bet­ter stat­ist­i­cian than I and than at least 99% of archae­olo­gists and ancient his­tor­i­ans. Unfortunately because the aver­age archae­olo­gist or his­tor­ian is quite bad with stats, com­plex stat­ist­ics are a bit of a waste of time. The people who need to use them don’t under­stand them, and have no interest in learn­ing how to under­stand them. The aim of my model is accur­acy, but it’s also intel­li­gib­il­ity, which means I’m sac­ri­fi­cing power for under­stand­ing. The ques­tion which con­cerns me is am I sac­ri­fi­cing too much power, so that my method becomes meaningless?

The num­ber of stat­ist­i­cians with a famili­ar­ity with astro­nomy and the ancient world is rather small, so I put up an entry for com­ment. This is the blog entry Guglio Magli cites. The res­ult is an early draft of a bit of my thesis is now being cited in the peer-reviewed lit­er­at­ure. I’m pleased, if a little con­cerned because my thoughts have moved on a bit. Brad Schaefer (2006a, 2000b) and Anthony Aveni (2006a, 2006b) have vigour­ously dis­cussed the import­ance of stats as proof in astro­nom­ical align­ments. Schaefer (2006a:26–7) is scath­ing of 2σ sig­ni­fic­ance, which I used in my model. From a social sci­ence point of view I thought that 2σ meant 95% cer­tainty, but he argues that 50% of 3σ claims turn out to be false. I know people say there’s no such thing as a prob­lem, only an oppor­tun­ity, but at first read­ing this would seem to be a ter­minal oppor­tun­ity for my model.

It prob­ably isn’t. Schaefer is talk­ing about stat­ist­ics in the absence of his­tor­ical evid­ence. He also states ‘a word of eth­no­graphy is worth a thou­sand align­ments.’ (Schaefer 2006a:29) In my research I’m using that kind of evid­ence as well, which helps improve mat­ters. I’m also adjust­ing the model so that the reader can eas­ily decide what they think is suf­fi­ciently sig­ni­fic­ant, rather than present­ing a fig­ure on a take it or leave it basis.

If I’m not so happy about the model pub­lished on IScience, where does this leave Magli’s paper? Exactly as it stood before.

Changing my mind on what I’ve writ­ten does not inval­id­ate his cita­tion, He was happy with the model to apply it to his work. Citing back to the web­log means that people can decide for them­selves if I got it right first time. Besides every­one changes their mind as they think more on a topic, unless they’re dead or dog­matic. The 2007 entry accur­ately reflec­ted my thoughts at the time, which is all you can say of any art­icle. It’s the nature of aca­demic dis­course that it’s a con­ver­sa­tion with a built-in time lag. There do how­ever remain some cita­tion issues, which are not Magli’s fault, which mean that the PD(Q) car­ni­val / journal is clearly needed.

I have to leave the blog entry as is. That’s some­thing I’m happy to do. If alter­a­tions are made then I should make them very clear. Magli and the OJA are pla­cing their trust in me that I won’t go back and stealth cor­rect places where I now think I’ve made errors. I also need to leave it where it is.

That’s some­thing I plan to do, but it is more dif­fi­cult. What hap­pens if WordPress goes bust? What hap­pens if the site is hacked and wiped? What hap­pens to the blog if Leicester decides in the future to rein­teg­rate ISciences back into Physics and remove the ISciences site? PD(Q) will offer a per­man­ent cita­tion method which will appeal to tech­no­phobes and hope­fully a cur­ated archive, so that in the future people will be secure in the know­ledge their cit­ing the same article.

My ini­tial thought that this was the first web­log I’d seen cited in a tra­di­tional journal, but that would require a some­what pedantic defin­i­tion of web­log. Webmoor and Witmore’s page on Symmetrical Archaeology was cited in the Dec 2007 issue of World Archaeology by Witmore.* Even earlier, Mike Heyworth cites the RSS feed of the CBA blog he admin­is­ters in in his Internet Archaeology art­icle from 2004, which scores even more web 2.0 points in my book. Nonetheless it would sug­gest that PD(Q) will ful­fil a need.

As for the mild shock of see­ing a bit of my draft thesis cited in a journal, I’m flattered. I think Magli has gen­er­ously done me a big favour. When I do pub­lish a more developed model it will be clear that I’m not pla­gi­ar­ising him. It’s also a bit of encour­age­ment that I’m at least head­ing in vaguely the right dir­ec­tion if people are cit­ing my work. I’m now won­der­ing if my blog entry is good enough to be cited in the peer-reviewed lit­er­at­ure, does that mean it’s sig­ni­fic­ant enough to count as a research output?

If you’d like aca­dem­ics to be pay­ing atten­tion to your work, then why not sub­mit a blog entry to whatever we even­tu­ally call PD(Q)?

Bibliography

Aveni, A.F. 2006a. ‘Critique of Keynote Address: Evidence and Intentionality: On Method in Archaeoastronomy.’ Viewing the Sky Through Past and Present Cultures: Selected Papers from the Oxford VII Conference on Archaeoastronomy. eds. Todd W. Bostwick and Bryan Bates. Pueblo Grade Museum Anthropological Papers No. 15. City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. 57–70.

Aveni, A.F. 2006b. ‘Reply to Rebuttal: Schaefer’s Rigid Ethnocentric Criteria.’ Viewing the Sky Through Past and Present Cultures: Selected Papers from the Oxford VII Conference on Archaeoastronomy. eds. Todd W. Bostwick and Bryan Bates. Pueblo Grade Museum Anthropological Papers No. 15. City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. 79–83.

Schaefer, B.E. 2006a. ‘Keynote Address: Case Studies of Three of the Most Famous Claimed Archaeoastronomical Alignments in North America.’ Viewing the Sky Through Past and Present Cultures: Selected Papers from the Oxford VII Conference on Archaeoastronomy. eds. Todd W. Bostwick and Bryan Bates. Pueblo Grade Museum Anthropological Papers No. 15. City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. 27–56.

Schaefer, B.E. 2006b. ‘Rebuttal to Critique: No Astronomical Alignments at the Caracol.’ Viewing the Sky Through Past and Present Cultures: Selected Papers from the Oxford VII Conference on Archaeoastronomy. eds. Todd W. Bostwick and Bryan Bates. Pueblo Grade Museum Anthropological Papers No. 15. City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. 71–77.

*I can’t link dir­ectly to the art­icle as it isn’t on the Ingenta Connect site yet. The link to the Symmetrical Archaeology site may not work either. At the time of link­ing the Traumwerk Symmetrical Archaeology site was not serving pages and the updated human­it­ies lab ver­sion could not find page 9, and had noth­ing to say about archae­ology. I don’t mean this nas­tily, because this is almost cer­tainly bey­ond the authors’ con­trol, but if cita­tions to a web­site hos­ted by major uni­ver­sity can break so quickly, then what can we ask of people from out­side aca­demia who have some­thing inter­est­ing to say and even less sup­port. Technically, it’s a forum rather than a web­log, but it’s open to com­ments from read­ers and breaks down when you want to look at it. For 90% of aca­dem­ics that’s the defin­i­tion of a web­log. :)

5 thoughts on “Blog cited in a peer-reviewed journal

  1. I have to leave the blog entry as is. That’s some­thing I’m happy to do. If alter­a­tions are made then I should make them very clear. Magli and the OJA are pla­cing their trust in me that I won’t go back and stealth cor­rect places where I now think I’ve made errors. I also need to leave it where it is.

    It may well be that PD(Q) will help with this, but you can’t real­ist­ic­ally guar­an­tee that that will always be in place either. Ultimately, this is why people cit­ing stuff online need to fol­low stand­ards and give both last mod­i­fied and view­ing dates in their cites. If you weren’t so scru­pu­lous as you be, you could take down that post and Magli might look very silly. Or WordPress might just explode, as you say. At least with a last_mod there’s some hope of find­ing stuff in the Internet Archive or similar.

  2. Congratulations. But the ques­tions you are ask­ing (What hap­pens if WordPress goes bust? What hap­pens if the site is hacked and wiped?) indeed point to ser­i­ous issues asso­ci­ated with cit­ing not just a blog post but any­thing that exists solely on the Internet.

  3. I had a post on an edu­ca­tion out­reach ini­ti­at­ive for deep sea research cited on a poster at a con­fer­ence. So its kind of like half way there for bio­logy? Although Lawrence 2007 cited David Calquhoun’s GoodScience blog (wrote about the paper here).

    Congrats on mak­ing into the primary lit­er­at­ure. This helps to high­light the util­ity of blogs in pro­mot­ing or cre­at­ing schol­arly works, regard­less of the issues it may provoke.

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