LSE bloggers divine the future of academia in European politics

Website will 'maximise' impact by bringing debate to policymakers and public. John Elmes reports

The editor of a new multidisciplinary blog run by London School of Economics academics has argued that the medium is "fundamental" for modern-day academics and their research output.

Patrick Dunleavy, professor of political science and public policy, was speaking about the launch of the European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) blog, the central mission of which is "to increase the public understanding of social science in the contexts of European governance and policy making" across the European Union and other European countries.

LSE has been a pioneer in the academic blogosphere, and EUROPP is a continuation of its British Politics and Policy (BPP) blog, created in the run-up to the 2010 general election.

To supplement a Higher Education Funding Council for England-funded research project aiming to demonstrate how academic research in the social sciences achieves public policy impact, Professor Dunleavy also set up an Impact of Social Sciences blog in 2011 as a "hub for anyone interested in maximising the impact of academic work in the social sciences and other disciplines".

He said: "There is a new paradigm of how you do research. You can do research in real time and do much more. Every [research] project should have a blog."

Pioneering platforms

Since its launch in February, EUROPP has received an encouraging level of interest. "We've had close to 1,300 Twitter followers in a month," said Professor Dunleavy.

"We've had a whole range of people writing, including the German foreign minister [Guido Westerwelle]; at this stage we're running about three or four times the traffic that we were getting on British Politics and Policy."

He added: "There is an established hierarchy and range of different blogs in Britain, whereas in the EU, it's a virgin territory for blogs. We're getting out blogs that are translated into German, Italian, Spanish inside of a month."

Freedom of information

Chris Gilson, who moved from his position as managing editor of the BPP blog to oversee EUROPP, said: "A lot of [European] academic debate tends to be behind paywalls, hard for the public to get to.

"We are trying to bring that level of debate out so that academics can influence public policy more and members of the public can actually understand the European discourse. We're focusing on the main points policymakers will actually be able to use."

Mr Gilson added: "We know from our analytics that BPP is being read in the House of Commons. It is being read in various government departments and hopefully we will see that continue with the EUROPP."

In addition to its daily posts, the BPP blog also publishes regular book reviews and Professor Dunleavy hinted that continued success could lead to commercial possibilities. "We're funded by the knowledge exchange arm of LSE," he said. "It's a modest amount of money and...we're all the time looking at [potentially commercial] things."

The team is also hoping to develop e-books from the blogs. "They would be freely available to download [at first], but also may be available [in the future] for a nominal price on Amazon," said Professor Dunleavy.

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