A few moons ago, just before Easter, Claudie Paye (@naponaps) of the fine blog on Napoleon, Naps, sent us a #bestblog “Stöckchen” (little stick, baton) via Twitter. This is an appeal to answer some questions about our blog and, once we are done, to pass the baton on to other bloggers. The point of this tag-like game is to better connect bloggers. Although we are ridiculously late with our answer, we are delighted to be part of this initiative and will gladly participate – albeit in English, which is our working language, and not in the original German. I took the liberty of translating the questions.

So here goes:

1. Wer bloggt denn hier? Who blogs here?
ZB: This blog is run by Andrea Hacker, who holds the position of Managing Editor at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at the University of Heidelberg.  In this role, she produces a book-series with Springer, as well as the open-access (gold) journal Transcultural Studies. She is a founding member of the Open Access Tool Alliance, regularly teaches EAP courses to PhD candidates and Post docs, and is currently building a pilot open-access (gold) book series with Heidelberg’s University Library and in cooperation with PKP. One of Andrea’s assistants, Zara Barlas (@z_barlas), also contributes to the blog with regular “Open Access Twitter Reports”.

AH: Zara is much too modest here – she is knee-deep in this blog as well as our other open undertaking: a MOOC on Academic Writing. Stay tuned!

2. Wie und wann ist das Blog entstanden? Was ist die Idee dahinter? When and how did the blog start? What is the idea behind it?
The blog started in November 2013 to do two things: it offers me (AH) a place to formulate ideas and reflect on developments in academia’s open movement. This includes impressions from our own open projects, but also from conferences, conversations and, of course, online readings about open access, funding policies,MOOCs, open data, open science, e-learning, e-publishing, self-publishing, and bibliometrics.

The blog’s second function lies in the collection of our Open Access Twitter reports, which Zara has been collating and preparing for quite some time now.  These reports offer a quick overview of the most pertinent Open Access developments that were reflected on Twitter over the course of a couple of weeks. The entire archive is available unter the tab “OA Twitter Report Archive”.

3. Die drei wichtigsten Grundfähigkeiten, die Du/Sie im Laufe des Studiums bzw. der Promotion erworben hast/haben? What are the three most important skills you acquired during graduate school?
AH: The trick is not to know everything, but knowing where to look it up. Horseback riding. Polish.

4. Lohnt es sich seine Forschungsdaten parallel/nach der Publikation der Dissertation zu veröffentlichen? Is it sensible to publish research data during or after the publication of the dissertation?
Yes! Provability is key to assess research results. Too often we have to take someone’s word and cannot check back to the data to verify what they say. But it depends of course what our dissertation is supposed to do: if you want to publish it in Open Access – perfect: link your data to it and enjoy the full benefit of distribution on a global scale. If (unfortunately) you want to revise it into a book with a trade-publisher or loot it for articles in “prestigious” (read: pay-walled) journals, then perhaps you will be of a different opinion..

5. Rezensionswesen gestern morgen? Whither  book-reviews? Book reviews yesterday tomorrow?
As with the rest of academia, there are great new digital possibilities for book- and journal reviews. We are now seeing a rise in online platforms such as or Blogs are also growing as a platform for academic reviews, a prime example of which can be seen at  LSE Review of Books. Reviews will probably continue to flourish in this direction and may even morph into different forms.

6. Warum nutzt Du/nutzen Sie (nicht) akademische soziale Netzwerke (ResearchGate,, …)? Why do you (or don’t you) use academic social networks such as ResearchGate or
Academic social networks are useful tools to connect with researchers everywhere who pursue topics and interests similar to your own. In addition, has the benefit of acting as a platform that enables its users to open up and share their own published works, although there have been some controversies regarding copyright issues! Despite its benefits, academic social networks are greatly limited; the number of registered users on such sites are minuscule compared to other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is particularly important for the academic world, with cases of tweeted academic works receiving more hits than those that have not been tweeted, and tweets being proven as reliable predictors of citations. With over 200 million users the micro-blogging platform, with its hashtag craze, can be immensely useful for academics  and offers a much larger reach than or ResearchGate, with their 8 million and 4 million users respectively. It depends on your preference: the smaller circle or the massive communication environment. Either way: we are really into it!

7. Ändert sich zurzeit die Wissenschaftskommunikation wirklich nachhaltig? Are the current changes in academic communication really a long-term development?
It depends on what is meant by “long-term” and “current changes”. In the last few decades, academic communication has been so dynamic that it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly is current; we have new means of communications from one day to the next. However, the shift in academic communication from the analogue to the digital world, and the growing usage of blogging and social networks certainly seem to be something progressive and ongoing. With the snap of a finger (or the clink of a light bulb in some genius’s mind) we will have our next big wave of academic communication through some new software or hardware, but it would almost certainly continue be something digital and something global.

8. Eine interessante Initiative aus dem Bereich „Science Marketing“? What would be an example of an interesting initiative from the area of “Science Marketing”?
We are stumped and have no ideas.

9. Eine ausgefallene Initiative im Bereich „Bookmarketing“? What would be an example of an extravagant initiative in the area of book marketing?
The temptation to be silly is great but we won’t. Make sure people know about your work – look after your meta-data, spread the news on the networks, go after your publisher to do their job.

10. Generation Praktikum, Generation „Gefällt mir“: zu pessimistisch, zu skeptisch? Was kommt danach? Generation internship, Generation “Like” – is this too pessimistic, too sceptical?
We do not have internships at the editorial office and we don’t want them either. People should get paid for their work! As for the “Like”, “Thumbs up”, “+”, or “favourite” function: it is a very fast and simple way to get a sense of how something is received. This can pay off, for example, on MOOCs. The full potential for this instant digital voting system is still far off and it will be fascinating to see how if can be used in an academic context.


The way the game goes, we now formulate our own ten questions and pass on the baton to some other blogs we like. So here goes:

I encourage the following bloggers to answer the questions below:

@ernestopriego for; @martin_eve for; @openaccessarch for; @zbarlas for; and @tolstoysays for

1. Who blogs here and how did the blog come about?

2. What are the main issues informing the blog?

3. Is the blog post as a genre helpful for developing larger research projects?

4. Freedom of information is always good – so let’s play at augury: whither transparency and openness? (or you can flip it: whither profitability and privacy?)

5. What are the aesthetic considerations for your blog?

6. How do you keep abreast of all the information that is relevant to your project? Can you?

7. Where do you see the most productive and promising developments in academic networking? How do blogs fit into this?

8. Could the growing concern regards surveillance affect the debate of open information?

9. What are the three most important skills you acquired during graduate school?

10. What are you reading at the moment?

So what happens next? If you are so inclined, please

  •  answer these questions – feel free to tweak them
  • include the Best Blog Award-image and link it to the person’s blog post that gave you the award.
  • come up with or recycle ten questions and pass on the best blog “Stöckchen” to up to ten other bloggers.
  • have fun 🙂


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