Is it research? Depends entirely on the nature of what is blogged. And since the whole point of blogging is to avoid refereeing, to be able to get out one’s ideas unmediated, the scholarly definition of research as a peer-reviewed, refereed contribution to knowledge is not fulfilled by blogging. Definitionally these are opposites.I think there is something in these comments, but I am not sure that I would see "the whole point of blogging" as "to avoid refereeing". In some respects, I think blogging can hold one up to a higher standard of refereeing than published work because there are so many more people who are commenting on one's ideas and thoughts as they are in process. It is an inherently more risky process than the much more sedate and private world of peer review. Of course I agree about the importance of peer review, but I don't think I see blogging as being at the opposite end of the spectrum as this. Rather, it's a different kind of peer review, with its own strengths and weaknesses (Davidson later notes that it is peer reviewed "in a Web 2.0 way" but I think that that short-sells it). Prof. Davidson goes on:
In fact, it makes me suspicious when someone protests that their blog gets so many hits while their scholarly articles receive so many fewer and therefore they don't need to publish in order to get tenure. That fails logically. Tenure is an agreed upon system of accountability and reward, as fallible as any such system and as susceptible to abuse.If someone is making comments like that, then they need a serious reality check because frankly they are not going to get tenure with an attitude like that. But I know that I would always look favourably on someone who has an intelligent and energetic blog, whether as potential applicants to a graduate programme, or as job applicants, or as applicants for tenure. To me it is likely to suggest several things, a commitment to the dissemination of scholarship outside of the guild, a commitment to collaborative scholarship, and some degree of courage and public risk-taking. So I would be strongly inclined to treat blogging as a plus. I suppose that this is what Davidson means in her reference to blogging as fulfilling the all important "service to the guild" requirement for gaining tenure. But I think that it is potentially much more than that. For one thing, blogs can be continuous with published work, so that the lines between publication and blog are blurred. In those cases, it's not a bolted on extra, but is integral to the research and publication process. One might even be using the blog as a means of developing published materials. There are multiple examples of this kind of thing as when people develop conference papers on-line and then use a blog as a means of doing research, gauging reaction and improving the output.
One of the underlying issues here may be the undue stress placed on peer-review in the American tenure system. I am new to this system, and the word "tenure" is only known in the UK as something American academics talk about, but it may be that it is important for appointments, promotions and tenure committees to think about peer review as only one, albeit important element in reviewing a scholar's output. Why not look more widely to what are called "esteem indicators" in the UK, and think of strong, successful academic blogging as one of those "esteem indicators"?