10 August 2011

Does Blogging Lead to More Readers of Academic Papers?

My experience with blogging and academic papers suggests that the answer to this question is "yes, certainly." Now, David McKenzie and Berk Özler at the World Bank Development Impact blog discuss a paper that they are working on that is seeking to quantify the impact of blogging onthe readership of economics papers.

Here is what they have found, along with a graph from their post showing the impact of a Freakonomics blog post on frequency of a paper's downloads:
·         Blogging about a paper causes a large increase in the number of abstract views and downloads in the same month: an average impact of an extra 70-95 abstract views in the case of Aid Watch and Blattman, 135 for Economix, 300 for Marginal Revolution, and 450-470 for Freakonomics and Krugman. [see regression table here]

·         These increases are massive compared to the typical abstract views and downloads these papers get- one blog post in Freakonomics is equivalent to 3 years of abstract views! However, only a minority of readers click through – we estimate 1-2% of readers of the more popular blogs click on the links to view the abstracts, and 4% on a blog like Chris Blattman that likely has a more specialized (research-focused) readership.

·         There is some spillover of reads into the next month (not everyone reads a blog post the day it is produced), and no evidence that abstract views and downloads lead blog posts.