Do the math

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[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

Update: As of October 2010, I now have about 22,000 subscribers to this blog. Alter my calculations accordingly…

According to Feedburner, I currently have about 2,100 subscribers to my blog. While that’s obviously not a huge number compared to many other blogs (see my Technorati rank, which is slightly below that of the TechLearning blog), let’s do the math for a minute…

Let’s say I average 4 posts a week for 50 weeks a year. 4 x 50 x 2,100 readers equals 420,000 person contacts each year. In other words, through my blog I have the opportunity to have 420,000 interactions with my audience every twelve months. These are folks who have actively sought me out and are voluntarily reading what I write (which, by the way, still blows my mind). Over 10 years, that’s over 4 million opportunities for me to spread my message to others, assuming that my current reader totals don’t improve at all (which, obviously, I hope they do).

Now, let’s compare this with a journal article. According to the information sent to me by the editors, the most prestigious peer-reviewed educational leadership research journal, Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ), has approximately 160 individual subscribers and 1,630 institutional subscribers (i.e., libraries), for a total of about 1,800 subscriptions. Because EAQ serves folks interested in a broad range of educational leadership issues, at best only a small fraction of the individual readers will be interested in an article on technology leadership-related issues. This also is true for anyone doing a literature search for a research article or dissertation. For argument’s sake, let’s say that each technology-related EAQ article might have 60 readers a year, or 600 readers a decade (this is probably quite generous): a very rough ratio of one-third of the subscription total. [Note: this is obviously not very scientific. I’m engaging in some very loose back-of-the-envelope calculations here. There’s probably a better way to come up with a more accurate estimate.].

Now of course faculty don’t publish in only one journal. An unbelievably productive faculty member might publish 5 to 10 articles a year, each in a journal with roughly 500 to 5,000 individual and institutional subscribers. For this example, let’s assume the faculty member is super-productive and is publishing in journals with the widest reach. Using the same rough ratio I used for EAQ (i.e., about 1/3 of the subscription numbers over a decade), 10 articles per year x 10 years x 5,000 subscribers x 1/3 = 166,667. Again, I think this is quite optimistic. Few faculty members are this productive and, even if true, it’s pretty likely that readership of a faculty member’s articles is nowhere close to this total.

Okay, let’s review:

  • blog = 4,200,000 person interactions per decade
  • journals = 166,667 person interactions per decade

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