My copy of Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age came in the post this morning! Look out for Ellen Moore's really interesting chapter on American evangelical churches' responses to The Da Vinci Code. My chapter is called, "Researching Theo(b)logy: A Participatory Research Methodology for the Blogosphere."
I write about the use the emerging church milieu make of two Internet-based technological innovations (blogs and wikis). After documenting the difficulties in using these texts (see my chapter in Reading Spiritualities in relation to the nature of online text) as sources of data, I suggest the benefits for researchers of having a research-specific blog (particularly for researchers looking at the Internet) and reflect on the practical and ethical issues involved in such a participatory methodology.
By chance, there's an interesting article in this quarter's Network (the newsletter of the British Sociological Association) on "Blogology," by Rebecca Leach (Keele University). She writes, 'The blog is hugely underused by sociologists as a means of communication... This is a real shame because blogs can give the public a real flavour of our research and writing much quicker than any other published output... A rich stream of new and interesting thinking can be found in the blogs of the many PhD students who creatively link together their academic ideas with their personal, political and cultural lives' (p.18). Rebecca's article includes links to A (Budding) Sociologist's Commonplace Book, Global Sociologist and a Very Public Sociologist - all with cooler names than my blog. Hey ho.
Maybe Fieldwork in Religion (see post here) would be a good place to further reflect on how my research blog is going? Obviously, the posts here at OpenSourceResearch form a cumulative reflection on this methodology but (as I originally wrote the chapter that appears in Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age in April 2007 - with some revisions over the year) it is now much more common for academics (particularly PhD students) to have research-related blogs. It would be interesting to explore if and how these blogs have encouraged participation from their research subjects.