ISA v. Blogs

The International Studies Association (ISA), which is the largest professional organization of persons studying international relations and is, therefore, a major organization within the discipline of political science and related fields, has issued a proposed new guideline for editors of ISA journals:.

The issue of “maintaining and promoting a professional environment” is particularly pertinent to the material that is made public through the use of blogs. It is the sense of the ISA executive committee that ISA’s Code of Conduct applies not only to individual members but also to ISA publications. The committee believes that any connection between blogs and ISA journals should be severed or separated. There should be no connection between independent/personal blogs and ISA journals.

This is, to put it mildly, odd.  Steve Saideman has a comprehensive critique of the proposal here:  Are Blogs Inherently UnProfessional?

Rather than repeat Steve’s lengthy post, I will just direct you to it, but will note one portion:

The funny thing is that I would not have been surprised to see something like this ten years ago when blogging was rare, where only the strange/daring would go (that would be Dan Drezner, Marc Lynch and other early adopters).  Social media is so much more commonplace these days that I would not think that zero tolerance kind of rules would be applied, especially to those willing to sacrifice considerable time and effort to help the association through the relatively thankless task of journal editing.

Indeed on two counts. One, blogging is nothing new, and many scholars who blog provide a real and useful link between their scholarship and the wider public (think the Monkey Cage as perhaps the best example).  And even if the concern is that some bloggers are too informal, then shouldn’t potential editors be banned from all social media, lest they tarnish the ISA?  Second, editing a journal is, as Steve notes, a “relatively thankless task” so creating undue strictures on the behavior of editors strikes me as unreasonable.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Weird. You would think that they would recognize the usefullness of blogs for getting close to real-time feedback on potential research questions.