Daniel W. Drezner

So you want to know what international relations scholars think about Web 2.0….

So you want to know what international relations scholars think about Web 2.0….

Yesterday Foreign Policy published the graphics-friendly results of the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP), as conducted by William and Mary’s Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations.  Some of the results — there’s a plurality of constructivists in the field — have already provoked some interesting blog discussion.  There’s also the more juicy debates over the best Ph.D. programs, best M.A. programs, and most influential people in our small, small universe. 

Your humble blogger must confess to having a different interest in the results.  The good folks running the survey were kind enough to add some questions about how scholars think Web 2.0 technologies — blogs, wikis, tweets, podcasts, etc. — fit into our discipline.  This is a natural follow-on to some research that Charli Carpenter and I published recently.  Since this is the first time these sorts of questions have been asked, this is strictly a "snapshot" of where the field was in 2011, not the trend over time.  Still, given the anecdotal evidence of prior hostility to these technologies, it’s an interesting snapshot. 

Looking at the topline survey results, here are the most interesting tidbits I found:

1)  More than 28% of respondents cited a blog post in their scholarship, and more than 56% used blogs as a teaching tool.  The positive responses for newer Web 2.0 technologies — Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube — were much smaller on the research side.  On the other hand, a stunning 90% of respondents said they used YouTube in their teaching. 

2) 28% of respondents had, at a minimum, contributed to a blog.  7% of respondents "regularly contrribute" to a blog. 

3)  I tweeted some wrath last month about grading a paper that footnoted a Wikipedia page (for the record, I don’t mind students using Wikipedia as a first-stop for research, but I do mind students who don’t follow the hyperlinks).  I see I would be joined in that assessment by about 85% of my IR colleagues. 

4)  No respondent thinks that contributing or maintaining a blog is important for advancing their academic career.  Intriguingly, however, there is certainly more appreciation about the role of blogs in the discipline than is commonly understood.  To be specific:

a) 25% of respondents do think blogs devoted to international relations should count in evaluating a professor’s research output.  I guarantee you that number would have been much lower even a few ywars ago;

b) More than 66% of respondents thought such an activity should count in evaluating a professor’s service to the profession. 

c)  90% of respondents believed that IR blogs had a beneficial impact on foreign policy formulation;

d)  More than 51% of respondents thought that IR blogs had a beneficial impact on the discipline of international relations. 

There’s a lot more data to discuss, but I would say that this veeeeery interesting snapshot should be enough to generate some discussion for now.  For example, do readers think that these numbers will plateau, grow or recede over time?