Biochemical Soul Musings on Nature, Science, Evolution, Biology, and Education

17Mar/09Off

Science Blogging: The Future of Science Communication & Why You Should be a Part of it

sciencebloggingOver the past few years, a new development has arisen in the world of science amongst those who wish to purvey the wonders of reality to the general public.

I'm speaking of course about the ascension of the Science Blog.

Many articles have been written on the burgeoning importance of science blogs for the processing and dissemination of scientific knowledge (see references at the bottom of this post). Conferences have been held, letters in scientific journals have been published, and a myriad online conversations have occurred through social media outlets such as twitter and friendfeed.

Despite all that, there still exists an incredibly large and significant portion of the science population that remains unaware of the existence of science blogs, of the vast amounts of knowledge to be gained from following them, and of the potential career advantages obtained from writing a science blog.

It is for this reason that I was recently asked by Dr. Paul Medina, Science Education and Outreach Coordinator of the University of North Carolina's Training Initiative in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (TIBBS), to write an article on the subject for the TIBBS Newsletter. As such, the primary target audience of this article are the biology graduate students who have yet to learn of the power of the science blog, though it is equally applicable to any and all with an interest in science. If you are arriving at this post by way of the newsletter, I welcome you and encourage you to look around this blog as well as the many other excellent blogs in my blogroll.

What is a Science Blog?

A science blog is just that: a personal web log containing posts written by the author (or sometimes multiple authors) on whatever happens to catch their fancy - usually with a high percentage of posts on scientific topics. Many science blogs are focused on very specific aspects of science - often on the field of the author's expertise. Others are more general, consisting of a wide range of scientific news items, issues, or topics. Some are written with the lay public in mind, while others are written for other scientists, detailing the esoteric minutia of a particular subject.

Science blogs in general have the following qualities:

  • Written by people passionate about science and their topic of choice
  • Written by people very knowledgeable in science
  • Often written by people intimately involved in scientific research

Science bloggers run the gamut of career levels, from lay people with a strong interest in science to teachers, graduate students, postdocs, and an increasing number of principal investigators.

Why you should follow science blogs

1. To keep up to date on fascinating research

Every single day, the world of science is filled with new findings. The scientific journals overflow with exciting new facets into the nature of existence. How is one to wade through it all to remain up to date on the most pertinent or meaningful studies? Obviously, reading the primary literature in your field is of prime importance. But it's quite easy to miss important or interesting work by relying on journals alone. This is particularly true if your interests drive you to cast a wider net. Of course, the mainstream media and sites like LiveScience and ScienceDaily will give you a lot of the headline-making stories - usually those of the highest emotional impact to the public at large.

However, much gets left out of the media - leaving an ocean of wonder beneath the waves of data. Science blogs serve as a great filter - often the best distillation medium around - to sift through it all and pull out the most intriguing and highest impact research of the day.

One of the best ways to sift through the massive amounts of daily research is to follow ResearchBlogging.org, which collates only those blog posts that deal directly with the primary literature. It is conveniently categorized so that you can follow whatever field you wish. I have little doubt that this site will represent a huge part of the science blogging, journalism, and communication future.

2. Join in the great discussion

One of the biggest advantages of the science blog as a medium of information dissemination is its focus on reader interaction and discussion. This is usually done through the "comments" section of a particular blog post. However, the conversation often evolves into multiple posts across the blogosphere - all cross-referencing and interacting with each other, generating multiple discussions in the process. Instead of being a passive receiver of scientific knowledge, commenters become an integral part of society's processing of said information, discussing and debating its implications and relevance.

3. Science blogs allow you to talk about science in an informal setting

Most science bloggers would probably tell you that the online science community has become much like a never ending 24/7 hop down to the pub (sometimes minus the ethanolic beverages - but not always). The vast majority of science blog posts aren't academic treatises. Certainly, many of them are - when that is the author's intent. However, many of the most entertaining science blogs often begin with the kind of statements you might hear among a group of scientists huddled around a pitcher of drought beer in your local dive bar. Though usually done with a little bit more literary style, they often start with something in the way of "So today I read one of most freaking cool things I've ever read..." Alternatively, science blog posts often begin with the theme "You know what I learned today that really sucks?..." This is particularly true of the blogs that deal with conservation issues or the status of evolutionary understanding in the U.S. (a daily subject of biology blogger consternation).

No community exists without its share of large egos. But by and large, I've found that in the science blogging community, pretense is often dropped in lieu of thoughtful and meaningful conversation (though I'm sure many would argue with this). Most of us science bloggers are in this for one reason: we love science and we love talking about it even more.

4. Gain emotional and social support from like-minded people

Whether you're a student, a post-doc, or a principal investigator, you've most assuredly learned that science is hard. One of greatest thing about science blogs is that they are the personal expressions and opinions of the blogger. As such, you will often read posts dealing with current issues and hardships of existing in the academic world. Trials, tribulations, frustrations - they are all on display in the blogosphere. It's much easier to keep yourself sane when reading of your favorite author's own similar experiences. I personally know of several P.I.s who follow blogs for the specific purpose of commiserating on the difficulties of being a scientist/academic in today's world.

The science blogosphere is a true community.  In many respects, being a part of this community has become one of the most rewarding experiences I've had in science. I'll speak more on this in the next section on why you should be a science blogger.

Why you should start a science blog

1. Share your passion for science

Chances are, if you are involved in the daily duties of discovering the mechanisms of nature, you're probably in it because you love it. There's nothing quite like publishing one's own research in peer-reviewed journals. However, unless you're a powerhouse you probably spend many months or years between those publications grinding away at the bench or in the field, with few other chances to share your love with the world at large. Blogs are an excellent way to continuously maintain a presence within the science community and to contribute to scientific thought, whether you write on interesting facts you've learned or dive deep into distilling the current primary literature.

2. Be a part of the community

I've found few communities quite like that of the science bloggers. We are nerds and proud of it. We care deeply about all aspects of science, with particular interest in bringing it to the people. From the first day of becoming a part of this community, you can rest easy knowing that have just entered a virtual world full of people that are like you in many respects. And of course, to make your blog succeed you must find readers. The main method of finding people who care about what you have to say is to become an active member of the community. This means that you visit your friends' online homes often and join in their conversations. Before long, they will begin to come to your virtual house to palaver. The science blogging community is a multi-threaded, never-ending science party.

When not interacting through blogs, you can always find conversations occurring on Friendfeed. If you are a biologist, the first place to start is to join the Life Scientists room (which currently has 667 members). Also, a daily-growing number of science researchers, teachers, bloggers, and journalists use twitter (start by "following" the science enthusiasts on this list maintained by David Bradley - @sciencebase).

By now you might have gotten the impression that the online science blogging community is relegated to the virtual realm alone. In reality, I owe most of my readership and my connections within the community to a real world event: the wonderful ScienceOnline09 conference. That's right - there's an entire conference dedicated to science blogging, writing, journalism, and education through online media. And the kicker for you folks from UNC is that it is held annually right here in Research Triangle Park. I know for a fact that the organizers Bora Zivkovic (A Blog Around the Clock), Anton Zuiker (mistersugar), and David Kroll (BRITE) have already begun the orchestration for ScienceOnline10. So be sure to sign up once registration opens. Not only will you learn of a slew of new developments in the world of online science, you may just get to join the rowdy ocean bloggers in another round of sea shantying.

Ocean Bloggers at ScienceOnline09

Ocean Bloggers at ScienceOnline09

3. Make connections

You've hopefully learned by now that science, like every other aspect of life, is much more rewarding when you've formed a good network. Just over the past few months, I've met more scientists in a wider variety of fields through my blogging than through an equal amount of time in the science community of the "real world." Again, the point must be hammered that these connections are very real connections, and often become much more personal through the informal nature of interacting in a blog setting. There exists the real possibility, as I have learned, that these connections may just aid you in your future career endeavors, despite what some skeptics may say.

4. Be a part of "the good fight"

I took the above reason from fellow science blogger, GrrlScientist of Living the Scientific Life and member of one of the most popular blogging communities, ScienceBlogs.

It's no secret that the science community is in a seemingly never-ending battle with those who wish to push ignorance upon this and future generations. Within the science blogging community runs a thick vein of pro-science activism. That is why we do this after all - to share our passion and knowledge with the rest of the world.

When you become a member of the community, you can be sure that should some insane legislation enter the pipelines or an inane campaign begin, you will hear about it through the blogs. It's all the more reassuring to know that when your blood begins to boil, a cadre of people spread around the globe are sharing in your frustration. And often times, this can lead to organized action.

5. Become a better writer

We all know the importance of having excellent writing skills. Writing is how we obtain funding and how we display our research findings to the world - and it largely represents our main metric of success. Writing a science blog is one sure way to keep those typing fingers sharp and your mind nimble, and vice versa.

6. Hone your ability to distill complex research into understandable terms

The vast majority of science blogs cater to a wider audience than just those individuals directly involved in similar research. As such, it's critical to explain yourself well without filling your articles with needless jargon. Not only will this make you a better writer, but it will make you better able at explaining exactly why you deserve the taxpayers' hard-earned money, and why your research might make a difference to this world. It will also vastly increase your ability to teach these same concepts.

7. Showcase your dedication to science and your interest in outreach

Though some science bloggers have managed to find a way to do this for a living, most of us do this as a hobby in our spare time. Blogging can take as much or as little time that you desire, but regardless of the amount of effort you put into your science blog, it can always serve as a tangible (virtual) accomplishment you can point to and say "see this? These are the things I am interested in as a person. This is how much I love science." Make no mistake, science blogging is real outreach. I can't count the number of hits I've recieved on this site that were obviously children doing a little bit of research. Not to mention the fact that I somehow managed to reach you.

8. Get feedback on your own thoughts and/or research

Do you ever have a science-related question and wish that you could just shout out for someone to answer it? Google works - sometimes - but it's nothing compared to the value of information you get directly from someone with relevant experience. Just a few days ago I needed information on a Green Fluorescent Protein variant antibody. I shouted the question to my blogger buddies through twitter and 2 minutes later I had my answer.

Again, a science blog is a collection of conversations - conversations that often lead to insightful changes in your own opinions and thoughts.

9. Blogs are great teaching tools both inside and outside the classroom

If you are a teacher, you might be interested to know that there is a growing trend among some of the best teachers to use blogs and similar social media-like online sites as tools to supplement the classroom (see Nings in Education). One of the pioneers in using blogs as an instructional tool is the excellent MissBaker. I had the honor of meeting MissBaker and some of her students at the ScienceOnline09 conference, and I can tell you that she is always willing to give advice to fellow teachers on using these tools.

10. Increase the visibility of yourself, your lab, your department, and your University

There is a growing push to get institutions, departments, and individual labs more involved in the online science communication. Let's face it - the world is online. Our kids learn, chat, and meet online. They practically run their lives through the internet. Science blogs are an excellent way to keep the world informed of your own research interests and to showcase what you've accomplished. We academics are often criticized for living in our ivory towers. Through science blogs you can reach out directly to the public, without having to worry about unreliable media intermediaries. If you are a principal investigator, I highly recommend that you read University professors turn to the blogosphere, for classes and recognition

11. Have fun

Oh yes, writing a science blog and following your favorite blogger colleagues is loads of fun. It was through this blog that I met Kevin Zelnio (Deep-Sea News), Andrew the Southern Fried Scientist, and David "WhySharksMatter" (both of Southern Fried Science). Beginning on February 12th - Darwin's 200th birthday - we began a competition - The Great Darwin Beard Challenge. The competition will end on October 1st - the 150th anniversary of The Origin of Species - at which time we will see who has grown the most darwinesque beard (check back for weekly updates and photos).

If that's not fun, I don't know what is!

It's okay - you can say I don't know what fun is.

Why science blogs will be a major component of the future of science communication

The science blogging community is far from free of heated debates. One such debate that extends to the larger world of journalism in general is exactly what place blogs should have in disseminating knowledge to the public.

I know I'm not alone in my own thoughts, though there are many that would disagree with what I'm about to say.

I believe that by-and-large, science bloggers are in the process of making many science journalists, at least as we know them now, obsolete. That is not to say that blogging can or should replace journalism (a hot debate these days), but good science journalism will need to evolve as it becomes complemented by the growing community of science blogs.

Let me first say that there will always be a strong demand for and great value in excellent science journalists and writers. I'm talking about the Olivia Judsons and Carl Zimmers of the world. Let me also state that I am not an expert on journalism or the media. These are my own opinions, though reasonably well-informed they are.

By "science journalists," I'm only talking about those people who are primarily journalists - writers - that do not necessarily have a strong background in science, and that certainly don't have in-depth training on the topics they report on.

So why do I think this specific breed of journalist is being made obsolete? The main role of the science journalist, as I see it, is to serve as an intermediary between the stereotypical "socially inept, egghead" scientist and the public. They package the scientists' findings into neat little stories that everyone can understand, using a few quotes from the scientist to humanize the data. Many of them are quite good at what they do - and adeptly able to grasp complex concepts and boil them down for the layperson.

However, with the rise of the science blogger, intermediaries are becoming largely unnecessary.

One of the critiques often made by traditional journalists of bloggers in general is that bloggers "don't have the training to research a subject." You can clearly see that this critique doesn't fit the science blogger. In fact, there is no one better able to do the appropriate research on a science topic than those intimately involved in similar research.

A second common claim is that "scientists and bloggers aren't good writers. They don't understand the concept of a 'story'." There are certainly scientists who can't write for a general audience. And there are plenty of bad bloggers. However, there are also plenty of really bad journalists. There is now a huge and growing number of science bloggers who are truly superb writers (Note: I don't consider myself one of these. I am still very much in the learning phase). Check out Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science for one great example. Saying that scientists are bad writers is a bit like saying that journalists are terrible drivers.  Most scientists owe their very existence (i.e. funding) to their ability to write well and convincingly and many of them are quite good at turning their research into a story.

Chances are good that some of you will end up taking up science blogging. As the number of science bloggers grows, so too does the cache of potentially excellent writers who also have the expertise to break down the scientific data itself. The more of us there are, the better we all get at our craft, feeding off the successes of each other.

The cream will always float to the top. Again, I know little to nothing of the economics of science journalism, but it is quite clear that the science blogging community will at minimum raise the bar for journalists covering scientific research. Thus, I see no end in the growth of the science blog as a meaningful and personal medium for the dissemination of scientific knowledge to the public who funds it.

Will you be a part the revolution?

So you've decided to start a science blog...where do you start?

Blog Networks

More reading

To those of you already blogging science

Please feel free to add your own comments below. I will likely update this post. I seriously doubt that I managed to catch all the great reasons to blog. Also feel free to point out any errors or omissions.

Comments (27) Trackbacks (5)
  1. I’d add that although there may not be many, that some science bloggers are in industry rather than in academia. Maybe this more apparent in the geology end of things.

    • well there ya go – that’s an entire facet of science blogging that I completely neglected. I’d be curious to know how many life scientist bloggers are in industry.

  2. While I would like to believe many of the statements above, I personally have scant evidence to justify them. I find it disappointing that for such an amazing set of scientists we are, I have not seen a shred of evidence supporting what are really just hypotheses. To measure is to know. We don’t know. Hyperlinks and clicks don’t count.

    I really want the social scientists out there to take the hypotheses resented above, and all over the blogosphere, and test them. Does blogging really improve your communication skills, and how does it fare with similar time commitments? How much science do people learn from reading the blogs, or is it just entertainment? How efficient is it at keeping up with cutting edge science, compared with, say, spending the same time reading more papers? Does blogging do a researcher any disservices in terms of a scientific career?

    • Measure!? What are we…scientists?

      I definitely agree that there should be studies done. It seems like it might be a quite difficult hypothesis to test. As I talked about, blogging is about more than just reading individual posts – it’s about the interactions between and within the blogs. How would one incorporate into the experiment?

      I’d like to give my own thoughts on your other questions as well.
      1)”communication skills” data would be nice, but I don’t need it. All I need to do is look back at my posts and writings from one year ago and earlier. Talk about terrible!
      2) “How much do people learn” This is I think a very important question. All we have are anecdotes as far as I’m aware – like MissBakers now famous biology class (she and her students were even on NPR Science Friday). But in my youth I never saw kids engaged in science like these kids who have immersed themselves in online science communication and learning. Again, the statements in this post are from my own experience. I’ve learned an insane amount over the last few months. And it doesn’t all come directly from blogs. Blogs are usually the spark that drives me into deeper research on particular subjects.
      3) How efficient?” I have little doubt that if one spent all one’s free time reading journals and studying textbooks you could probably learn more efficiently. However, I don’t consider reading the primary literature a fun hobby. This is an important point – I and most bloggers I know do this in our free time. It is definitely entertainment.
      Another point I should have made better is that a significant portion of bloggers are dedicated to “research blogging” – i.e. reporting on the current primary literature. Usually the blogs pick up the new big stories before the mainstream media does. So yes – it’s clear that blogs can often let you know what the “cutting edge” research before you might find it yourself.
      4) “Does blogging do a disservice?” Perhaps.
      If you write about controversial subjects or subjects that might represent a conflict of interest with your employer, obviusly this can lead to problems.

      I’ve heard stories of certain employers not being very supportive of someone who blogs. My simple response to that is – if someone doesn’t want to hire me because I spend my free time writing a blog about science, that’s not someone I have the slightest interest in working for. End of story.

      What do others think of these points?

      • There was some kind of palaeontology ethics problem last year (Aetogate?), that was almost entirely reported on by palaeontology bloggers, e.g. http://paleochick.blogspot.com/, and which otherwise would have been dropped before any conclusion was made by ethics committees and such. Sorry, not really up on the details, but ReBecca has her email address posted if you are interested.

  3. I’m interested in science blogs so that I can learn about the person behind the science. IMO, science has to be more fun to be more accessible. Not mentos in Coke bottles but more human. cp

  4. Well, let me say this – I personally, strongly believe that blogging has improved my overall writing ability. I find myself researching more, rewriting, and critiquing my own blogs far more vigorously than I did when I first started. And I know I learn a lot of interesting news from blogs, and more about how certain fields design and conduct experiments.

    I don’t know, per se, if it’s helped my communication or scientific writing, since I’m relatively new as a researcher and haven’t published my own written work yet. But I find it hard to believe it hurts. As a blogger, I read more papers in depth to figure out exactly what went on in a study and its real implications, which I can only see as good practice in general.

    As far as keeping up with “cutting edge” research, I think it depends on the definition. It keeps me up to date with a wide variety of research, but not necessarily the most “cutting edge” in one field or another, as that research might be too technical or difficult for general public understanding. I don’t think the time commitment prevents or harms ones ability to stay current in their field, though. And translating scientific writing into colloquial language is good practice, IMO, since it gives you the ability to take your own research and make it comprehensible and interesting to other scientists and non scientists alike who aren’t in your field.

    I agree, however, that a scientific, unbiased test would be very interesting to see. How one does that, however, is a little more difficult… perhaps they could have reviewers judge pre, middle, and late work produced by a long-time blogger/researcher and see if the quality is improved more than just a regular, non-blogging scientist. But I fear ‘writing quality’ might be a bit hard to quantify and highly variable to opinion.

    • Don’t let Christie fool you all – she was an inherently gifted writer to begin with.

      I honestly believe her style is among the best of the science blog world.
      *end flattery*

  5. I just put up a post on scientific twittering that asks “Why?” Nowhere near as comprehensive as this one, though. For me, it comes down to having a role as a public intellectual, which is what I sort of thought being a university researcher was at least partly about.

    • Like Silver Fox, “I came here from a retweet from BoraZ…”

      I have just visited Zen Faulkes’ blog–great post on Twitter and good for every science blogger who features a, “Follow me on Twitter” button. I can’t tell you brilliant science bloggers often enough how crucial it is to enable visitors to follow you on Twitter. And David Bradley of Science Base (he is must reading) makes it incredibly easy to tweet individual posts. RSS and email alerts just don’t cut it anymore–if you want readers, leverage the power of Twitter.

      I have been following science blogs for only a few weeks and have been impressed beyond measure by the brilliance of people like Cameron Neylon, Jean-Claude Bradley and Michael Nielsen. They write beautifully and enthrallingly on fascinating topics.

      And the essay here and all the comments are absorbing. Nice job, Irradiatus.

  6. I came here from a retweet from BoraZ, by the way.

  7. Excellent post – I’m an experienced science blogger, and I still found the writing informative and entertaining enough to read the article in its entirety (i.e., you are a good writer).

    While my gut tells me that many of the benefits you write about are true, I do think that Daniel Collins has raised some valid points in terms of quantifying these benefits.

    Speaking from personal experience, another benefit I have found is that is has simply made me a better scientist. You’ve alluded to this in discussing better writing skills and ability to distill research, but I’m talking more about the breadth and depth of my understanding in fields related to though not necessarily within my own scope of research. Whenever I write an article for my blog, I end up doing some research on ancillary questions that arise in my own mind while writing. This research not only allows me to approach the article from a more comprehensive perspective, but often turns up even more interesting questions that I wish to follow up and understand. In the one+ year since I started writing my blog, I have evolved from a myopic entomologist – someone with very good understanding of my chosen specialty but not much else – to a well-rounded naturalist – with a much better understanding of how natural processes relate to my own field. Maybe this is a selfish benefit, but it is a benefit nonetheless and certainly must translate into better writing and ability to distill, as you have pointed out.

    Just my silly contribution.

    regards–ted

  8. Two quick reactions:
    “3. Science blogs allow you to talk about science in an informal setting”
    The big difference between blogging/commenting and sitting around chatting in a bar is that one of them leaves a permanent public record of the conversation that is easily found through a search engine. When you tell someone in the bar that your department chair is a moron, odds are that won’t impact your bid for tenure. Ditto publicly slagging off the work of another scientist who might be sitting on your grant/hiring committee. So while the tone may be informal, the medium is inherently more public and permanent than private conversation and caution and professionalism might serve one better than letting it all hang out.

    “3. Make connections”
    You can certainly make connections to other science bloggers. As Maxine Clarke of the Nature Network often points out, scientists generally don’t read science blogs. Whether connecting with bloggers is as valuable as spending the same time making connections to other scientists within your institution, field etc., is certainly questionable. I’ve met many people and had many interesting conversations with other bloggers through my blog, but I’ve yet to find anyone working in the fields I used to work on at the bench that blogs. Is having a vague friendship with someone on the other side of the world that works in a completely unrelated field all that meaningful to my career advancement prospects?

    • No doubt! People definitely need to learn (and hopefully not the hard way) that diplomacy and caution are critical in any online postings.

      As for making connections that personally matter professionally – I have. Though I’m not inclined to detail it.

      I’m not sure how I could spend “the same time making connections to other scientists within your institution” since I usually blog somewhere between 8PM and midnight.

      One, the “value” of your online connections is obviously completely dependent on your field, your goals, and who you’ve happened to meet. I and many others have most certainly made lasting and meaningful connections – not to mention friendships.

      • I think the commenter Miriam, below, hits the nail on the head. When all these social networks for scientists were started, they were done so with the promise of finding collaborators, discussing and troubleshooting your research. Instead, they’re really more about scientists who are interested in writing, communication, outreach and education. Those are certainly important things, and if you’re into them, it’s nice to be part of a group with similar goals. But for most scientists, the research is more of the focus and blogs have not captured their fancy. The types of networking they provide won’t get your paper published in a better journal or get you invited to speak at a top meeting or get you hired to a research position at a top institution–your research must speak for you in those cases.

        So I think it’s important to be clear on what to expect, rather than raising false hopes.

        • Larry Moran made a similar point over at Sandwalk.

          And I think you’re correct. But I think a large reason for this is because alot of researchers haven’t joined in yet.

          Will this continue to be the case as the next generation of scientists is made aware of online science activities? Probably to a large degree. But I also think the potential of these connections will increase as more become interested.

          But I completely agree that people should not come away from this thinking that they might get a sweet research job from blogging.

          The online science connections are really only a compliment to your professional connections.

          I still think that if you’re interested in education and outreach, these connections might become valuable.

          • To further emphasize the networking benefits, I’ve received several invitations to write articles, participate in a panel discussion, and be a keynote speaker – directly as a result of connections I’ve made with readers of my blog. Yes, the research itself has to carry the day, but there can be no doubt that the blogging opens avenues to build exposure.

            Thanks again for a great post and to all the commenters for their additional insights.

            regards–ted

  9. Let it be known to all that I am an idiot for initially making an egregious error in leaving out ResearchBlogging.org.
    I updated the post above to include it in discussion and “Networks” list.

    I knew it would be something…

  10. Thanks, Daniel, for the GREAT writeup. I will definitely be sending this around when people ask me about blogging. For me, blogging has had significant professional benefits. (I need to remain vague at the moment but all will become clear later this year.)

    However, I do think that David has a good point, in that science bloggers are usually the scientists who are most interested in outreach and education, not the scientists who are most interested in being the very tip-top of their research field. But that’s fine – the world needs both.

  11. Brilliant post as always, Daniel. This time it has got the attention of people from fields aside that if biology, so this can only be a good thing. :)

  12. Brilliant writeup! It’s the sort of thing I’ve been wanting to do for a long time — but now that you’ve done it, I don’t have to. Thanks!

    • I nearly got to the bottom of the comments before seeing that Dave made the exact comment I wanted to leave. So I’ll just write, ditto. Thank you.

  13. That’s really interesting reading. From my prospective, science blogging is such a fantastic way for you scientists to reach us – those who are not scientists. I wouldn’t have a clue if it helps you (as per the discussion in the comments posted before mine) but I do know that for the amateur nature or science enthusiast it has put the world of science (or information) in our grasp. I am a guide and have found the amount of knowledge that I can gain relevant to what I am guiding about is fantastic. I would bet that many of the people who follow blogs like this one do so for that very reason. Guides, high school teachers and those who just like…science.

  14. I am a fan of science blogging as it represents the more true path of science. Before the advent of the internet science was shared through letter and publications but this system has gone horribly sideways. Today the journals of science are worse than obsolete. When it was expensive to publish and distribute journals served a purpose filtering useful seeds of knowledge from chaff so that the tiny amount of paper printed in science could pre-sorted. However rapidly the editors and owners of the journals set themselves up as strongarm gatekeepers of the holy faiths whose nod might make or break science.

    While many papers in the so called peer reviewed literature are surely worthy countless more equally or even less worthy papers fall into the dust bin. The major Journals today serve more as enforcers of pecking order than anything else. For those of us with many decades in science experience I would venture none could say they know less than many great science discoveries and insights that died on the vine for want of publication.

    Today with the interent and especially the fantastic great global brains of the search engines there is no reason save preservation of pecking order and laziness to continue with the expensive exclusive pay to play world of science journals. Self publication on the internet is by far more pure and consistent with the role of publishing ones work so as to seek comments and cross fetiization of ideas from learned collegues. The frustration one must pay in learing how to scan for pertinent information and make judgement calls on its acceptability or correctness is small compared to the sharing of wisdom.

    If the paper is only available from the pay to play world it is a sorry excuse for science and the authors intentions suspect.

  15. Fantastic post; covers pretty much every aspect I can think of. My site is a mashup of whatever I feel like writing, ranting, and raving about, but science definitely comes up a lot.