I am subscribed to many interesting blogs. Some of them are related to my research field, while others not. Sometimes I am really impressed that some of the posts are in fact real pieces of scientific work (or sociological work, depending on the field), that although they do not follow strictly the scheme of a scientific paper, could be easily converted to a research paper. Therefore I am intrigued why these people do not convert sometime their most relevant and accessed blog post to research paper, do you know why? Besides, do you know successful cases where people have converted them to papers?
First, it totally depends how you define the term “research paper”. Some people uses a blog in such a way that (some or all) blog entries are actually akin to minimal-size “research papers”, albeit with a nonconventional publication mean and possibly nonconventional format.
Secondly, it also depends where you draw the line between “turning X into Y” and “writing X based on Y”. Obviously, many journals would object to publishing material that has already been published somewhere else, including on a personal blog. Moreover, publishing identical content in two very different media probably means that it is not fully adapted to one of the two (or both): to give only one example, you don't typically have the same language level on a blog as in an academic paper.
Finally, an example: scientific writer Philip Ball has a blog on the topic of Water in Biology, and he also regularly publishes “News & Views” articles for Nature (one example there). In both cases, he writes critical reviews the recent literature on the same topic: there is wide overlap, but he does not publish his papers by directly converting blog posts.
This not an exact answer, however PolyMath is an interesting example of a result which was obtain using social tools (not exactly blog, but related...)
Here is an example from ecology. I think this is an excellent example of how an initial blog post/idea was developed with the help of comments from readers of the blog, and then turned into a paper. There was a follow-up discussion of the paper on the blog, also with an invited response from authors that disagreed with the conclusions in the paper (they also published a response paper).
Initial blog posts (with a very active comments section):
- http://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/a-thumbs-up-for-the-intermediate-disturbance-hypothesis-guest-post/ (guest post from researchers taking the opposite view)
Why there are publishable blog posts that never become research papers?
Writing a research paper takes a considerable amount of time and effort. Also, publishing is a tedious process. So, some people prefer to write research results in a more informal way, i.e., blog post, to focus on the research results rather than focusing on writing [and publishing] the results.
In CS and related fields it is not rare to start with a blog post that eventually will become a published research paper.
Bertrand Meyer, famous for Object-oriented software and the programming language Eiffel, has an article on the CACM blog titled The Waves of Publication. This article suggests starting publishing research results in a blog, then convert it to a technical report, then present it in a workshop, then in a conference and finally publish it in a journal.
I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but the Daedalus Project was a long-running survey of MMO players. It had a blog that summarized recent results, which were then included in scientific papers.