Last month’s ACI Author Spotlight gave us an fascinating interview with scholarly blogger Dr. Vincent Racaniello, who developed a podcast network for the life sciences. He told us, “I thought it would be interesting to capture conversations among scientists and deliver them to the public, as in talk radio, but not the conventional subject.” Headquartered at, Dr. Racaniello now produces such ongoing podcast series as This Week in Virology, This Week in Parasitism, This Week in Microbiology, This Week in Evolution, and Urban Agriculture – but it all began with plans for one podcast. “This Week in Virology began as an experiment in 2008,” he explained. “I did not think anyone would listen, but I wanted to follow my idea through. It became so popular that I started four other podcasts.”

Since that interview, we’ve noticed that quite a few scholarly bloggers indexed in ACI are talking about podcasts, either recommending one they listened to or recorded, or wondering about how and where they fit within academic settings and interests. The conversations among scholarly bloggers span all roles for the podcast (educational resource? teaching aid? research tool?) and all academic disciplines. Read on for a brief roundup of conversations on podcasts from scholarly bloggers in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index.

So what constitutes a podcast? Dr. Ian O’Byrne of the Digitally Literate blog defines a podcast as “a form of digital media consisting of an episodic series of audio, video, digital radio, or reading materials subscribed to and downloaded automatically through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device”. In his post “Getting Started with Podcasts: Understanding, subscribing, & listening”, Dr. O’Byrne gives recommendations for new podcast listeners, including which apps to use and a handful of podcasts by topic for further exploring. Such recommendations may be useful to those still exploring the potential contributions of podcasts in an academic landscape. In a PrawfsBlawg post published today, for example, law blogger Chris Walker writes, “I confess I haven’t given too much thought to the value of podcasts in the scholarly dialogue. To be sure, I have participated in, and have very much enjoyed, teleforums sponsored by the ABA AdLaw Section or the Federalist Society (which I’m told are then turned into podcasts).”

But researchers are also seeing recommendations to start their own podcasts. Kevin Anselmo of the Experiential Communications blog, for example, offers a number of reasons to start a podcast on campus in his post “Why Groups and Individuals Within Higher Education Should Consider Podcasting”, a version of which was also published by Inside Higher Ed. In the post, Anselmo details a few university-based projects, like Harvard Business School’s Cold Call podcast and the University of Texas at Austin’s 15 Minute History podcast, that should serve as helpful case studies for the interested academic.

Some authors are blogging about podcasts they’ve either produced or participated in. Physicians and researchers at the Dana Farber Institute regularly post on their ongoing podcast series called Cancer Conversations, while the TeachThought bloggers post a number of podcasts relevant to educators and education majors, covering topics like the impact of project-based learning on teaching, creativity in the curriculum, and educational technology. The Ottoman History Podcast is another popular podcast series; you can see from their homepage the span of topics their episodes cover. Biological anthropologist and blogger Dr. Greg Laden posts about recording a podcast interview with planetary geologist Emily Lakdawalla, while Dr. Harold Jamie Madigan posted on a recent psychology podcast on why people play games. Law professor Josh Blackman blogged about his participation in a podcast hosted by the National Constitution Center. And attorney Mirriam Seddiq writes about her recent experiences interviewing for her new podcast series.

Others are posting recommendations or links to podcasts in their fields. Bloggers at Bitesize Bio recently recommended a podcast on stem cells that features guest scientists, for example, while the Legal History Blog posted a link to a new podcast episode by H-Law, a humanities and social sciences network sponsored by the American Society for Legal History. And while we’re still not sure what this podcast is about, knowing that statistician Dr. William Briggs blogged about it makes its value in some discipline(s) highly probable.

And finally, some authors are exploring various uses and applications for podcasts beyond the general educational and learning perspectives. For example, philosophy & cognitive sciences PhD Candidate and scholarly blogger Nick Byrd recently wrote about the potential value podcasts may hold for research. (We also asked him for more details in a recent ACI interview, so stay tuned for more potential podcast ideas.) In “Academic Tech: Podcasts for research”, Byrd refers to a recent post by philosophy podcaster Peter Adamson, who wrote about using podcasts in teaching. “[I]magine that each research topic, conference, philosopher, etc. had a podcast feed,” Byrd writes in the post. “You just select in your research topics, affiliations, colleagues, etc. and then you let the content come to you!”

Check out the ACI Scholarly Blog Index to see what scholars are posting on podcasts. See if you can find recommendations or resources on podcasts related to your field of study, and be sure to recommend your own favorite podcasts – or podcast-producing tips – in the comments section below.