Dynamic Ecology year in review

This is mostly for our own reference, but if you’re curious about our most-read, most-commented, and best posts of the year, read on!

The big picture

We published 241 posts and got about 615,000 pageviews this year, from about 297,000 unique visitors.* Easily our biggest year ever, though the pageview numbers aren’t comparable to past years because we switched to a “read more” format that inflates our pageviews. Not sure if those data include our syndicated views; I think so but I’m not sure (WordPress used to break out data on syndicated views, but they’ve stopped).

Geographic mix

About 50% of our traffic this year came from the US, 9% from Canada, 7.5% from the UK, 3% from Germany, the rest from elsewhere. Our German traffic is up compared to other countries; Brazil is down.

Our most popular posts in 2015

Meg’s you do not need to work 80 hours per week to succeed in academia. 22,307 views this year. Whenever we get a huge spike in traffic not associated with publication of a new post, it’s usually because this post went viral–again. 🙂

My advice on good reasons for choosing a research project (plus some bad ones). 15,740 views this year. That one and the other old advice posts on this list all get a steady stream of traffic even though they’re old, presumably because they come up high in search results.**

Meg’s handy compilation of videos for teaching ecology. 11,978 views this year.

My advice on how to suggest referees in your cover letter to the journal editor. 10,246 views this year. It continually surprises me that advice posts on this sort of topic get so much traffic. I’d have thought that (i) not that many people need advice on such a narrow topic, and (ii) students needing advice on such narrow topics will ask their supervisors. Supervisors: do you not tell your students how to do this stuff? Do they not ask? Because a lot of them seem to be learning it from us!

Meg’s there is crying in science (and that’s ok). 9,738 views. Our most popular post written this year.

Most active commenters

We’re proud and grateful to have so many awesome commenters. Our most active commenters this year included Jeff Ollerton, Stephen Heard, Jeff Walker, and Terry McGlynn. Thanks so much for commenting!

Most commented post

Our most commented post this year was Brian’s why AIC appeals to ecologists’ lowest instincts. 143 comments. A great example of the sophisticated, high-level discussion and debate that goes on here.

Best posts

The posts that draw the most traffic aren’t usually the ones we’d consider our best or most interesting work.*** Here are some of the posts we wrote this year that stood out for me. Hopefully Meg and Brian will update the post or chime in in the comments with some of their picks.

I had a lot of fun asking Rich Lenski questions about the LTEE. It was flattering to be invited to turn it into an interview for Plos Biology, and I’m pleased with how it turned out.

I learned a lot by looking at citations of my TREE paper arguing for abandonment of the IDH. Turns out the IDH isn’t a zombie idea after all–it’s a ghost. I enjoyed digging into this pair of papers debating the limits of continental-scale species richness; bummed that my thoughts didn’t draw many comments. And my poll on which big ideas in ecology were successful or unsuccessful started out as just a lark but turned out to be very interesting (results here). Unfortunately, the poll results didn’t draw many comments. This is something I’m keeping an eye on for 2016–are our posts about ecology generating good comment threads?

One unfortunate side effect of many people chasing few tenure-track jobs and grants seems to be an increased perception that conventional hiring, publishing, and grant-allocating practices are somehow inherently unfair or horrible. Or maybe some people have always felt that way, and they’re just more visible now thanks to the internet. Anyway, many critiques of current hiring, publishing, and grant-allocation practices are way off base, failing to identify the real problems and/or misdiagnosing the source of the real problems. Hence my post on honest signals in academia, and my post debunking the notion that the competitiveness of academia somehow disfavors collaborative work. Those are probably two of the most important posts I wrote this year.

Meg’s post on Up Goer Five led to a very interesting debate about science communication (also an unusual debate in that I disagreed with Meg and Brian). Meg’s post on strategies and reasons for being more efficient was great, even though I mostly read it in the same spirit that one might read a very advanced cookbook. I like imagining that I might someday be as efficient as Meg, just as I like imagining that I might someday cook something really fancy. 🙂 Her post on crying in science deserved the massive traffic it got; great example of letting lots of people know that they’re not alone. And her post on old school science cred is a lot of fun and has an amusing comment thread.

Brian’s post on widespread misuse of AIC in ecology is Brian at his best. Diagnosing and critiquing an important problem, but with such clarity that nobody really gets upset with him. His post on how mistakes happen in science is a great example of saying something obvious that nevertheless really needed to be said. And his curmudgeon’s take on modern pedagogy is a great example of injecting nuance and a sense of proportion into a debate that needs more of those things. And although it will probably never gain traction, we’d be better off if more people took slow science seriously.

Finally, Ruth Hufbauer’s guest post on how many universities use score sheets to rank faculty job applicants was eye-opening for me. I had no idea such score sheets were a thing.

So, Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for reading, hope you’ll continue to find Dynamic Ecology worth your while in 2016.

*All data are from WordPress. I assume (correctly?) that because they host us, they have better visitation data than third party sites like SimilarWeb. Which is kind of unfortunate, since SimilarWeb credits us with substantially more traffic than does WordPress.

**For this post, many of those searches seem to come not from grad students, but from high school students. Lots of people find us with searches on “Explain why you chose [topic] for your paper topic” and variations thereon. This is one small illustration of why pageviews are a crude measure of anything worth calling “influence”.

***Advice posts draw a lot of traffic, but they’re easy and boring for us to write.

2 thoughts on “Dynamic Ecology year in review

  1. By far & away my fav of the year was Meg’s “Crying in Science,” as the topic covered so very much relevant ground. I don’t know if you all consider suggestions from the lunatic fringe- but a post about “Laughing in Science” might provide an intriguing juxtaposition.

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