I really don’t want the blog to turn into a platform for announcing personal papers, but this is another case that seems worthy of an exception. I am a coauthor on a paper that just appeared in Royal Society Open Science that focuses on science community blogging as an important type of blog. In the paper, we make the distinction between two types of blogging: science communication blogging and science community blogging. Science communication blogging is traditional scicomm: communicating science broadly, with non-scientists as a typical audience. Science community blogging, on the other hand, focuses on the process and culture of academia, with other scientists being the primary audience. Dynamic Ecology is pretty much entirely science community blogging. Some other blogs mix the two, and some are solidly on the science communication side of things. One of our arguments is that science community blogging is valuable, even though it often gets overlooked in discussions of science blogging. One piece of evidence supporting the assertion that science community blogs are overlooked: the Wilcox et al. book, Science Blogging: The essential guide, does not mention science community blogs, despite aiming to provide a comprehensive overview of science blogging.
Our new paper (which is open access so available to everyone!) discusses the reach of science community blogs and their value to the scientific community, including as a means of diffuse mentorship and as a means of contributing to scholarly discourse. The diffuse mentorship aspect of blogging is a key reason I blog. I think science community blogs are a great way of ensuring broader access to information that some people have but others do not (such as my post on how to format a CV for a faculty job application or Jeremy’s on how North American search committees work or Brian’s post on the five pivotal paragraphs in a paper). I also think science community blogging is a great way to raise issues that I think are important to consider (such as my posts on not needing to work 80 hours a week to succeed in academia or on being a scientist with an anxiety disorder). At this year’s ESA meeting, a surprising (to me) number of people thanked me for talking about these issues; my favorite may have been the person who stopped me and said “Thank you for being a real person!” This feedback meant a lot to me.
Our blogging paper was led by Manu Saunders of Ecology is Not a Dirty Word; she deserves a lot of the credit for this paper seeing the light of day! The other authors on the paper are Amy Parachnowitsch and Terry McGlynn from Small Pond Science, Margaret Kosmala of Ecology Bits, Simon Leather of Don’t Forget the Roundabouts, Jeff Ollerton of Jeff Ollerton’s Biodiversity Blog, and Stephen Heard of Scientist Sees Squirrel. Simon, Jeff, and Steve were the ones who had the idea for the paper in the first place.
The abstract of our paper is below the break, as are links to posts at the other blogs:
The popularity of science blogging has increased in recent years, but the number of academic scientists who maintain regular blogs is limited. The role and impact of science communication blogs aimed at general audiences is often discussed, but the value of science community blogs aimed at the academic community has largely been overlooked. Here, we focus on our own experiences as bloggers to argue that science community blogs are valuable to the academic community. We use data from our own blogs (n=7) to illustrate some of the factors influencing reach and impact of science community blogs. We then discuss the value of blogs as a standalone medium, where rapid communication of scholarly ideas, opinions and short observational notes can enhance scientific discourse, and discussion of personal experiences can provide indirect mentorship for junior researchers and scientists from underrepresented groups. Finally, we argue that science community blogs can be treated as a primary source and provide some key points to consider when citing blogs in peer-reviewed literature.
My coauthors have posts today on their blogs, too! You can find them on Ecology is Not a Dirty Word, Scientist Sees Squirrel, Don’t Forget the Roundabouts, Jeff Ollerton’s Biodiversity Blog, and Small Pond Science.