GIGA Doctoral Researcher Hager Ali recently started an open access blog series on “Autocracies with Adjectives”. Get to know more about the Blog Series and Hager’s views on blogging in academia in this interview.
GIGA Doctoral Researcher Hager Ali recently started an open access blog series on “Autocracies with Adjectives”. Get to know more about the Blog Series and Hager’s views on blogging in academia below.
A few months ago, you started a blog series called “Autocracies with Adjectives”. What is the series about?
“Autocracies with Adjectives” is an open-access blog series on ECPR’s political science blog. The series is about authoritarian regimes and how to typologize them – imagine a written exchange between researchers commenting on the same issue using their respective expertise. I chose to name it “Autocracies with Adjectives” as a homage to David Collier and Stephen Levitsky’s 1997-paper “Democracy with Adjectives” – one of my all-time favorites – because the puzzle driving the series is a similar conceptual predicament: how many sub-types of one regime are too many? Except this time, we are going through this spiel for authoritarian regimes.
How does it connect to your own research?
The premise is based on my on my dissertation research and deals with a recurrent pet peeve I have about how authoritarianism is studied. In my dissertation, I analyze how political and socio-economic instability affect civil-military relations across the Middle East. Initially, my goal was to check my findings about civilian control against regime types. But I found myself struggling to settle on one regime dataset because I always took issue with either how cases were coded, or with how regime types were specified in the codebooks of each dataset. Moreover, the data suggested much less variation in regime types across the MENA-region than there actually is. Because this issue did not feel cut-and-dried enough for me to just compile a Special Issue, I went with a more experimental and open-ended format: a blog series.
How did you get started with blogging?
Writing and editing blogs was a familiar process to me long before “Autocracies with Adjectives” because it resembles journalistic writing. Many elements that make a good blogpost are extremely similar to what makes a good newspaper article. Long before my undergraduate studies, I started working as freelance journalist at a daily newspaper in Frankfurt. Shifting from writing conventional articles to blogs for me was only a matter of adapting to the more conversational style of blogs and the use of social media to disseminate content.
Do you think blogging is important for academics?
Absolutely, and for good reasons. Academic publishing always lags months behind the real world by virtue of the peer review process. When academics make sense of events in the real world, that publication-lag means academics must prioritize key events in their framing to avoid expiring by the end of the peer review. A blog has a very different time horizon – and a much quicker editorial turnaround, which means you may be able to analyze issues that would be too small for a conventional paper. Another reason is of course the accessibility of a blog post versus that of a scientific paper that allows you to engage a different audience. In a sense, academic blogging can do what conventional academic publishing cannot, which makes blogs a good way to augment your research profile.