Happy second birthday to us!

Happy second birthday to us! Some highlights of the last 12 months, in no particular order (warning: pure navel gazing and own-horn-tooting follows)

Our audience continues to grow with no obvious sign of slowing down, though I’m sure it will slow down at some point (it has to). May 2014 was our biggest month ever with almost 50,000 non-syndicated pageviews from 26,651 unique visitors. And we continue to get lots of great comments, with hardly any of the issues that plague the comment threads on some other sites. So thanks for reading and commenting, everybody!

Our most popular posts this year were an interesting mix of new posts that went viral, and older posts (mostly “advice” posts) that seem to have acquired a lot of staying power:

  1. You do not need to work 80 hours per week to succeed in academia (Meg)
  2. Using Wikipedia in the classroom: a cautionary tale (Meg)
  3. William Shockley on what makes a person write a lot of papers (Brian)
  4. Videos for teaching ecology (Meg)
  5. Good reasons for choosing a research project, plus some bad ones (Jeremy)
  6. How to suggest referees in your cover letter to the journal editor (Jeremy)
  7. Statistical machismo (Brian)
  8. When a series of entirely reasonable decisions leads to biased outcomes: thoughts on the Waterman award (Meg)
  9. How to review a manuscript for a journal (Jeremy)
  10. Thoughts on applying to grad school, for prospective students and their mentors (Meg)

Interestingly, nothing I wrote in the past year made our top 10; all three posts from me on the above list are >1 year old. Closest I came was with my post on why ecologists might want to read more philosophy of science (our 12th most-read post this year). I interpret this as a sign that I need to raise my game. Not that you ever want to fall into the trap of consciously chasing traffic, of course (and we never do). And there’s a place for short, easy-to-write posts that keep things ticking over, and that sometimes spark really good discussions. But I think I need to do a better job of writing good, substantive posts more often. Hopefully if I do that, some of them will strike a chord with readers. Of course, wishing won’t make it so, and I’m still deciding if there are any changes to my working habits that might help me blog better.

As is now traditional, I wanted to highlight some of my personal favorite posts of the year.

I learned a lot from Meg’s exceptionally thoughtful posts on subtle biases, their consequences, and what to do about them. Besides her post on the Waterman award linked to above, there was her series on stereotype threat (starts here), and several others. And this post asking readers to name the biggest recent conceptual advance in ecology really made me stop and think.

My favorite posts this year from Brian were a couple of posts where he pushed back against the ideas that scientists have to present a united front, and that there’s one right way to do ecology. One good use of blogs is as a venue for expression of opinion and serious debate. Brian’s just awesome at that.

My favorite guest posts of the year were Jeff Ollerton and Angela Moles’ post on zombie ideas in tropical ecology, and Peter Adler’s post on how doing good science doesn’t ever get any easier.

Although I do want to raise my game, I did write some posts this year that I think were pretty good. “Shopkeeper science” is probably one of the best posts I’ve ever done, combining a personal story and a nice analogy with a technical discussion of a serious issue. I did a fair bit of background research for my post on ecology vs. natural history and I think that’s part of why the subsequent discussion was so good. My post on how faculty position search committees work was really long, which perhaps is why it didn’t get as many readers as I expected or hoped. But I still think a lot of students and postdocs would benefit from reading it. It’s my anecdotal impression that there are some widespread and serious misunderstandings out there about how the search process works. I think this post on culture clashes and post-publication review is a good example of thinking out loud about a difficult issue without coming to any firm conclusion. And I’m proud of my book reviews this year (here, here, and here), even though they didn’t draw many readers. I’m increasingly finding book reviews to be a good vehicle for raising what I think are interesting issues.

Finally, earlier this month I received the Early Career Community Engagement award from the Faculty of Science at my university, mostly for the blog (since I don’t really do anything else that could be considered “community engagement”). I stand by what I’ve written before–for me, the most important rewards of blogging are intangible. But I’m still pretty chuffed to get this award, which really is a collective award. In my mind, it’s shared with Brian and Meg, since it’s their blog too and without them it wouldn’t be nearly as good. And it’s shared with all of you, since if you didn’t choose to read Dynamic Ecology, I wouldn’t have gotten the award.šŸ™‚

In the comments, feel free to share any feedback or suggestions you have for us as we look forward to year three.

2 thoughts on “Happy second birthday to us!

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