We write a lot of advice posts. On everything from responding to reviewer comments, to good and bad reasons for choosing a research project, to how faculty search committees work, to how to write clearly. And we’re often surprised by how much traffic they draw and how widely they’re shared on social media. And they don’t just draw short-term interest either. Our most enduringly-popular posts–posts that continue to draw dozens of views per day, even though they’re years old–are mostly advice posts.
This surprises us because we often toss out advice that’s familiar to us, often stuff we were taught as grad students. And so we tend to assume it’ll be familiar advice to many (not all) readers. And maybe it is? Maybe lots of people are reading and sharing our advice posts not because the advice is new to them, but because it’s familiar?
So we hope you’ll indulge our curiosity by taking the very brief two-question poll below. Are our advice posts teaching you stuff you didn’t learn from your adviser or coursework? (We’re not asking how our advice posts relate to other sources of advice–your friends, other bloggers, etc.) The poll isn’t just for grad students, or just for ecologists–we encourage all readers to take it. Thanks!
UPDATE: From past experience, most poll responses come in the first 24 hours. So here are the results. We got 166 responses. Not a random sample of any well-defined population, of course, but probably broadly indicative. The breakdown by career stage is as you’d expect: it looks like our overall readership, but skewed a bit younger (49% grad students, 22% postdocs, 23% faculty, 6% other categories). Most respondents said that our advice posts often (36%) or sometimes (44%) teach them things they didn’t learn from their advisers or coursework. 11% said our advice posts mostly just repeat what they’d already learned from their advisers or coursework. 7% said our advice posts mostly give different advice on the same topics covered by their advisers or coursework. Looking at the crosstabs, responses didn’t vary by career stage in any obvious way. So there’s the answer: our advice isn’t redundant!🙂