This document was created in June, 2010 and was my first stab at creating a criteria set for students. It is due for revision...
Do successive blog posts demonstrate the developing thinking of the writer? Does his/her main idea take more distinct shape over time in response to 1) his/her ongoing research; and 2) comments from others? Are blog posts frequent enough to suggest ongoing, incremental, and interactive development of ideas?
Does the overall research blog have a clear focus? Do individual blog posts keep their focus (like paragraphs within conventional writing), partly through relevant post titles and tags? Would blog visitors have any trouble ascertaining, from any post, the writer's overall research agenda? Do successive posts restate and sharpen a specific train of thought? Is the principal research question returned to, deepened, and clarified? Does the writer make interim assertions or claims summing up research to date?
Do the posts relate well to one another (through reference and intralinks)? Or do the posts seem "random" (a series of observations or general commentary not explicitly tied to the research agenda)? This relates to the criteria of focus and of development, above.
Has the writer employed a variety of posts, including some that are more exploratory in nature and some that are more expository? Does the writer narrate and document his/her discovery process, as well as assert positions based on analyzing and synthesizing? Are there some of the following types of blog posts?
- Reviews (of books, media, archives, services, events)
- Profiles of key organizations, scholars, or sources
- Curated information (such as an annotated list)
- Data visualization
- Video, audio (podcast), or presentation (embedded PowerPoint, for example)
- Event-centered posts (before, at, or following relevant events)
Does the blog design, blog components, and writing style together create a clear sense of the writer's personality? Are there informal and personal elements as well as more academic or professional qualities to that personality?
Currency and History
Does the writer use blog posts to relate to relevant and current issues? Does he/she refer to current online discussions (other blogs, discussion boards, etc.)? Does the writer also ground his/her writing within historical contexts, interpreting the present in terms of longer patterns and traditions?
Does the writer make use of outside sources in both referential and analytical ways? (Does he/she not just link to sources, but analyze them?). Are some of these sources more formal, academic, or authoritative? Are some of these informal or more general? Is there a variety of sources? Are some sources quoted? Are sources appropriately linked to? Are some sources primary sources and some secondary?
Does the writer engage others who are researching similar topics (as evidenced in part by others commenting on posts, in part by reference to how the author is participating in private or public discussions of this topic elsewhere). Does he/she show an openness to and responsiveness toward challenges to his/her ideas? Does he/she respond to comments on posts, or refer to comments in developing later posts? Have other bloggers (including classmates, but not exclusively) written about the writer's blog or quoted/linked back to it?
Does the writer demonstrate making contributions to communities of learners or researchers (evaluated in part by the active use of social bookmarks, in part by documenting participation in social networks or other online communities focused on the issues he/she is exploring)? Does the writer avoid isolated expression or research by demonstrating connectivity with other researchers and projects, including those of their peers and those outside of their normal social circles?
How has the blog author invited contributions of others (such as guest blog posts, invited comments, reviews of posts)? What evidence is there of the author joining his or her work to larger, ongoing projects? Has the blog become a launching point for creating other online assets or content valued by specific communities, or for using collaborative tools online?
Does the writer use posts not just to give general opinions or commentary, but to analyze texts, events, or media (including effectively summarizing, appropriately quoting, and applying criteria of evaluation)?
Does the writer create focused blog posts that are more likely to attract readers due to concision and clarity (rather than long or rambling posts)? Does the writer break up longer discussions where possible (to make possible more frequent and specific comments from readers)? Are longer posts broken up with appropriate headings? Does he/she avoid quoting other sources at too great of length?
Does the writer include links 1) to appropriate secondary sources for the topic (scholarly or scientific); 2) to current online content from professional or academic sources; 3) current online content from informal or mainstream media? Are links effectively embedded with semantically relevant linking text ("...a topic discussed by Dan Cohen in his Digital Humanities Blog...")? Are links presented in side content relevant? Does the writer backlink to his/her prior posts (see cohesion, above)?
Has the writer used images to complement blog posts and provide interest and insight (whether produced personally, or found online)? If videos are employed, are they relevant to content (not just entertaining) and either implicitly or explicitly related to blog posts? Do media enhance readability and design and not clutter or distract? Any use of personally produced media? Are images or media appropriately credited (and obtained through creative commons)?
Does the blog design fit the research topic and the personality of the author? Is there an "About Me" segment or profile, with photo? Are the photos or color scheme appropriate to a research blog (not overly informal). Does the author include relevant widgets or side content? Are the writer's other content streams featured in the side content (social bookmark stream, photo stream, other blogs, etc.)? Does the writer avoid too much clutter or distracting media in the side content?
Has the writer created sufficient content (including blog posts, ancillary media, and links) to enable visitors to explore the blog's topic meaningfully?