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Science Story-telling at Restoration 2012 (slideshare version)

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This is a modified version of the talk I gave at Restoration 2012 about the importance of science blogs and the role they play in science communication. I also address common questions and concerns …

This is a modified version of the talk I gave at Restoration 2012 about the importance of science blogs and the role they play in science communication. I also address common questions and concerns that scientists have about blogging.

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  • Hi! I’m Iris. I’m a student at the University of Washington, I’m the vice-president of AFSUW, and I’m a science blogger on the Southern Fried Science network. And today I’d like to talk about blogging and how it can help you communicate your science.
  • Let’s start with the basics. What is a blog?A blog is a website that is periodically updated with posts, with the most recent content appearing first.Blogger: person who writes for a blogBlogging: the act of writing for a blogNetwork: community of blogs
  • Let’s start with the basics. What is a blog?A blog is a website that is periodically updated with posts, with the most recent content appearing first.Blogger: person who writes for a blogBlogging: the act of writing for a blogNetwork: community of blogs
  • There are lots of great science blogging networks. Some of these names you might be familiar with and some of them you might not, and that’s okay. If you’re not familiar with any science blogs, I strongly suggest you go check some out. We’ve prepared a list of some of our favorite blogs for y’all to get you started—I’ll show you that a little later on. Reading science blogs is fun and informative. Most of us don’t have the time to read 10 papers a day. Blog reviews can give you a quick idea of what a paper is about and you can then decide whether it’s worth your time to read that paper. Similarly, I doubt many of us get to venture too far out of our fields of study with regularity. But by reading posts by bloggers who are in different fields like molecular biology or paleontology, you can become familiar with those subjects too. And it’s fun to find out what other scientists are working on—whether that’s in your field or not.
  • So what is your average blogger like? According to research that just came out this year, the average science blogger is:Male—according to this study, 67% of science bloggers are male, 18% are female, and the remainder are blogs with multiple authors or unknown author gender.Independent—that is, he’s not affiliated with a blogging networkEnglish-speakingHas an active Twitter account, which he likely uses to promote his blog and magnify his impact
  • He’s got somegraduate education.He blogs about biologyHe blogs under his real nameHe’s at an academic institute.
  • I fit parts of that profile, but not all of it. Personally, I started a blog because:--I wanted an easy way for my family & friends to keep up with what I was doing--I wanted to broaden my outreach—and you can’t get much broader than the internet--I wanted to improve my writing skills--I thought (and think) salmon are super cool, and I wanted to share that So I started a blog in September 2010, right after I began my grad work at UW. Most of my posts were about the new lab techniques I was learning, the papers I was reading, and salmon 101—I was taking a salmon course at the time, and I’d known essentially nothing about salmon before I moved here, so this series of posts had the added benefit of helping me study. Then, in March 2011, David Shiffman—a blogger from the Southern Fried Science blog network—contacted me and offered me a spot on their network. There are several benefits from being associated with a network, but probably the most important one—especially in terms of outreach and impact—is that it increases your visibility. So that’s where I am now! And it’s worked out well. My pageviews have increased, so my impact has increased. My writing has subjectively improved. My communication and networking skills have greatly benefited. I’ve connected with a variety of folks through blogging. For example, someone from Biosonics offered me a tour of their facility after I posted about hydroacoustic sampling. A scientist from CSIRO sent me some helpful visual design resources when I was making a conference poster last year. I’ve gotten advice from bloggers who are further along in their scientific careers than I am. Really, blogging has just been a great experience for me.
  • I fit parts of that profile, but not all of it. Personally, I started a blog because:--I wanted an easy way for my family & friends to keep up with what I was doing--I wanted to broaden my outreach—and you can’t get much broader than the internet--I wanted to improve my writing skills--I thought (and think) salmon are super cool, and I wanted to share that So I started a blog in September 2010, right after I began my grad work at UW. Most of my posts were about the new lab techniques I was learning, the papers I was reading, and salmon 101—I was taking a salmon course at the time, and I’d known essentially nothing about salmon before I moved here, so this series of posts had the added benefit of helping me study. Then, in March 2011, David Shiffman—a blogger from the Southern Fried Science blog network—contacted me and offered me a spot on their network. There are several benefits from being associated with a network, but probably the most important one—especially in terms of outreach and impact—is that it increases your visibility. So that’s where I am now! And it’s worked out well. My pageviews have increased, so my impact has increased. My writing has subjectively improved. My communication and networking skills have greatly benefited. I’ve connected with a variety of folks through blogging. For example, someone from Biosonics offered me a tour of their facility after I posted about hydroacoustic sampling. A scientist from CSIRO sent me some helpful visual design resources when I was making a conference poster last year. I’ve gotten advice from bloggers who are further along in their scientific careers than I am. Really, blogging has just been a great experience for me.
  • So I went through my reasons for starting a blog, but those definitely aren’t the only reasons. In fact, there are lots of benefits to science blogging.Communication. Blogging is a great way to read widely, on a variety of topics, which helps you get new perspective on your own work. It’s also a great way to introduce your work to a wide audience, which helps you make connections and expand your network. You can connect with people who are geographically distant from you, you can communicate with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Science bloggers are very community-oriented and tend to promote conversation and discussion, so it’s fairly easy to get involved. Communication 2.0. Outreach. Blogs are globally accessible so you have the potential to expand your broader impact by quite a bit. One of the underlying motivations of science blogging is often to “demystify” science for the general public—to emphasize that science is a process and to teach non-scientists how to interpret scientific writing. Science blogs are an educational resource—some are even used in the classroom. I’m going to be US-centric here for a moment, since that’s the culture I’m most familiar with. And in the US, there are some major impediments to scientific literacy. Poor standards of science education are certainly a problem, but aside from that, two major issues are the paywalland the jargon wall in scientific literature. Some journals limit access to scientific literature, requiring you to pay a fee to read more than the abstract of a paper. Those of us who are at universities or agencies that pay for our access don’t run into this problem often, but the general non-scientist does. But even if all journals were open-access and had no fees, we would still have problems in the form of scientific jargon. We’ve all trained years in our respective fields; it’s very easy to forget that not everyone is as familiar with your field as you are. As a result, scientific literature can be dense and difficult to read. So even when a non-scientist can hurdle the paywall, he may still run into the jargon wall and be unable to interpret the literature. Though science blogs do not solve these issues, they do ameliorate them. Blogs are open access—there are no fees to read—and part of the duty of the science blogger is to minimize use of jargon—to write posts that are understandable but not lose the detail of the research and its findings. How much of an impact does blogging make, you ask? The increase in your impact factor from blogging can be substantial. In a case study of six economics blogs and 94 blogged papers, McKenzie & Ozler found that after a blogger blogged about a research paper, abstract views and downloads of that paper dramatically increased.
  • So I went through my reasons for starting a blog, but those definitely aren’t the only reasons. In fact, there are lots of benefits to science blogging.Communication. Blogging is a great way to read widely, on a variety of topics, which helps you get new perspective on your own work. It’s also a great way to introduce your work to a wide audience, which helps you make connections and expand your network. You can connect with people who are geographically distant from you, you can communicate with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Science bloggers are very community-oriented and tend to promote conversation and discussion, so it’s fairly easy to get involved. Communication 2.0. Outreach. Blogs are globally accessible so you have the potential to expand your broader impact by quite a bit. One of the underlying motivations of science blogging is often to “demystify” science for the general public—to emphasize that science is a process and to teach non-scientists how to interpret scientific writing. Science blogs are an educational resource—some are even used in the classroom. I’m going to be US-centric here for a moment, since that’s the culture I’m most familiar with. And in the US, there are some major impediments to scientific literacy. Poor standards of science education are certainly a problem, but aside from that, two major issues are the paywalland the jargon wall in scientific literature. Some journals limit access to scientific literature, requiring you to pay a fee to read more than the abstract of a paper. Those of us who are at universities or agencies that pay for our access don’t run into this problem often, but the general non-scientist does. But even if all journals were open-access and had no fees, we would still have problems in the form of scientific jargon. We’ve all trained years in our respective fields; it’s very easy to forget that not everyone is as familiar with your field as you are. As a result, scientific literature can be dense and difficult to read. So even when a non-scientist can hurdle the paywall, he may still run into the jargon wall and be unable to interpret the literature. Though science blogs do not solve these issues, they do ameliorate them. Blogs are open access—there are no fees to read—and part of the duty of the science blogger is to minimize use of jargon—to write posts that are understandable but not lose the detail of the research and its findings. How much of an impact does blogging make, you ask? The increase in your impact factor from blogging can be substantial. In a case study of six economics blogs and 94 blogged papers, McKenzie & Ozler found that after a blogger blogged about a research paper, abstract views and downloads of that paper dramatically increased.
  • So I went through my reasons for starting a blog, but those definitely aren’t the only reasons. In fact, there are lots of benefits to science blogging.Communication. Blogging is a great way to read widely, on a variety of topics, which helps you get new perspective on your own work. It’s also a great way to introduce your work to a wide audience, which helps you make connections and expand your network. You can connect with people who are geographically distant from you, you can communicate with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Science bloggers are very community-oriented and tend to promote conversation and discussion, so it’s fairly easy to get involved. Communication 2.0. Outreach. Blogs are globally accessible so you have the potential to expand your broader impact by quite a bit. One of the underlying motivations of science blogging is often to “demystify” science for the general public—to emphasize that science is a process and to teach non-scientists how to interpret scientific writing. Science blogs are an educational resource—some are even used in the classroom. I’m going to be US-centric here for a moment, since that’s the culture I’m most familiar with. And in the US, there are some major impediments to scientific literacy. Poor standards of science education are certainly a problem, but aside from that, two major issues are the paywalland the jargon wall in scientific literature. Some journals limit access to scientific literature, requiring you to pay a fee to read more than the abstract of a paper. Those of us who are at universities or agencies that pay for our access don’t run into this problem often, but the general non-scientist does. But even if all journals were open-access and had no fees, we would still have problems in the form of scientific jargon. We’ve all trained years in our respective fields; it’s very easy to forget that not everyone is as familiar with your field as you are. As a result, scientific literature can be dense and difficult to read. So even when a non-scientist can hurdle the paywall, he may still run into the jargon wall and be unable to interpret the literature. Though science blogs do not solve these issues, they do ameliorate them. Blogs are open access—there are no fees to read—and part of the duty of the science blogger is to minimize use of jargon—to write posts that are understandable but not lose the detail of the research and its findings. How much of an impact does blogging make, you ask? The increase in your impact factor from blogging can be substantial. In a case study of six economics blogs and 94 blogged papers, McKenzie & Ozler found that after a blogger blogged about a research paper, abstract views and downloads of that paper dramatically increased.
  • . Some journals limit access to scientific literature, requiring you to pay a fee to read more than the abstract of a paper. Those of us who are at universities or agencies that pay for our access don’t run into this problem often, but the general non-scientist does. But even if all journals were open-access and had no fees, we would still have problems in the form of scientific jargon. We’ve all trained years in our respective fields; it’s very easy to forget that not everyone is as familiar with your field as you are. As a result, scientific literature can be dense and difficult to read. So even when a non-scientist can hurdle the paywall, he may still run into the jargon wall and be unable to interpret the literature. Though science blogs do not solve these issues, they do ameliorate them. Blogs are open access—there are no fees to read—and part of the duty of the science blogger is to minimize use of jargon—to write posts that are understandable but not lose the detail of the research and its findings. How much of an impact does blogging make, you ask? The increase in your impact factor from blogging can be substantial. In a case study of six economics blogs and 94 blogged papers, McKenzie & Ozler found that after a blogger blogged about a research paper, abstract views and downloads of that paper dramatically increased.
  • So I went through my reasons for starting a blog, but those definitely aren’t the only reasons. In fact, there are lots of benefits to science blogging.Communication. Blogging is a great way to read widely, on a variety of topics, which helps you get new perspective on your own work. It’s also a great way to introduce your work to a wide audience, which helps you make connections and expand your network. You can connect with people who are geographically distant from you, you can communicate with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Science bloggers are very community-oriented and tend to promote conversation and discussion, so it’s fairly easy to get involved. Communication 2.0. Outreach. Blogs are globally accessible so you have the potential to expand your broader impact by quite a bit. One of the underlying motivations of science blogging is often to “demystify” science for the general public—to emphasize that science is a process and to teach non-scientists how to interpret scientific writing. Science blogs are an educational resource—some are even used in the classroom. I’m going to be US-centric here for a moment, since that’s the culture I’m most familiar with. And in the US, there are some major impediments to scientific literacy. Poor standards of science education are certainly a problem, but aside from that, two major issues are the paywalland the jargon wall in scientific literature. Some journals limit access to scientific literature, requiring you to pay a fee to read more than the abstract of a paper. Those of us who are at universities or agencies that pay for our access don’t run into this problem often, but the general non-scientist does. But even if all journals were open-access and had no fees, we would still have problems in the form of scientific jargon. We’ve all trained years in our respective fields; it’s very easy to forget that not everyone is as familiar with your field as you are. As a result, scientific literature can be dense and difficult to read. So even when a non-scientist can hurdle the paywall, he may still run into the jargon wall and be unable to interpret the literature. Though science blogs do not solve these issues, they do ameliorate them. Blogs are open access—there are no fees to read—and part of the duty of the science blogger is to minimize use of jargon—to write posts that are understandable but not lose the detail of the research and its findings. How much of an impact does blogging make, you ask? The increase in your impact factor from blogging can be substantial. In a case study of six economics blogs and 94 blogged papers, McKenzie & Ozler found that after a blogger blogged about a research paper, abstract views and downloads of that paper dramatically increased.
  • So I went through my reasons for starting a blog, but those definitely aren’t the only reasons. In fact, there are lots of benefits to science blogging.Communication. Blogging is a great way to read widely, on a variety of topics, which helps you get new perspective on your own work. It’s also a great way to introduce your work to a wide audience, which helps you make connections and expand your network. You can connect with people who are geographically distant from you, you can communicate with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Science bloggers are very community-oriented and tend to promote conversation and discussion, so it’s fairly easy to get involved. Communication 2.0. Outreach. Blogs are globally accessible so you have the potential to expand your broader impact by quite a bit. One of the underlying motivations of science blogging is often to “demystify” science for the general public—to emphasize that science is a process and to teach non-scientists how to interpret scientific writing. Science blogs are an educational resource—some are even used in the classroom. I’m going to be US-centric here for a moment, since that’s the culture I’m most familiar with. And in the US, there are some major impediments to scientific literacy. Poor standards of science education are certainly a problem, but aside from that, two major issues are the paywalland the jargon wall in scientific literature. Some journals limit access to scientific literature, requiring you to pay a fee to read more than the abstract of a paper. Those of us who are at universities or agencies that pay for our access don’t run into this problem often, but the general non-scientist does. But even if all journals were open-access and had no fees, we would still have problems in the form of scientific jargon. We’ve all trained years in our respective fields; it’s very easy to forget that not everyone is as familiar with your field as you are. As a result, scientific literature can be dense and difficult to read. So even when a non-scientist can hurdle the paywall, he may still run into the jargon wall and be unable to interpret the literature. Though science blogs do not solve these issues, they do ameliorate them. Blogs are open access—there are no fees to read—and part of the duty of the science blogger is to minimize use of jargon—to write posts that are understandable but not lose the detail of the research and its findings. How much of an impact does blogging make, you ask? The increase in your impact factor from blogging can be substantial. In a case study of six economics blogs and 94 blogged papers, McKenzie & Ozler found that after a blogger blogged about a research paper, abstract views and downloads of that paper dramatically increased.
  • This is Peter Janiszewski, another example of a blogger who has highly increased his impact. He started a blog during his PhD work and got picked up by the PlosONE network. He published a final study from his work in Diabetes Care, gave international presentations about it, yet felt that he had not managed to have his desired level of impact outside of his academic field. So, he blogged about it on his blog, Obesity Panacea. Within the week, he had garnered >12,000 page views. That’s a much bigger impact—but there’s more. Soon after that, he was contacted by a reporter for MSNBC.com who wanted to do a piece on his study. At this point, the study had been published in the peer-reviewed literature for 3 months. MSNBC.com published their article, which highlighted Peter’s work, along with others in his field, thus further enhancing Peter’s impact. Peter’s story is a bit of an exception to the norm—but those sorts of things can and do actually happen. On a more muted level, even small blogs like mine can generate higher impact. I may not reach 12,000 people with my posts, but I do reach more people than I would if I were not blogging.
  • This is Peter Janiszewski, another example of a blogger who has highly increased his impact. He started a blog during his PhD work and got picked up by the PlosONE network. He published a final study from his work in Diabetes Care, gave international presentations about it, yet felt that he had not managed to have his desired level of impact outside of his academic field. So, he blogged about it on his blog, Obesity Panacea. Within the week, he had garnered >12,000 page views. That’s a much bigger impact—but there’s more. Soon after that, he was contacted by a reporter for MSNBC.com who wanted to do a piece on his study. At this point, the study had been published in the peer-reviewed literature for 3 months. MSNBC.com published their article, which highlighted Peter’s work, along with others in his field, thus further enhancing Peter’s impact. Peter’s story is a bit of an exception to the norm—but those sorts of things can and do actually happen. On a more muted level, even small blogs like mine can generate higher impact. I may not reach 12,000 people with my posts, but I do reach more people than I would if I were not blogging.
  • This is Peter Janiszewski, another example of a blogger who has highly increased his impact. He started a blog during his PhD work and got picked up by the PlosONE network. He published a final study from his work in Diabetes Care, gave international presentations about it, yet felt that he had not managed to have his desired level of impact outside of his academic field. So, he blogged about it on his blog, Obesity Panacea. Within the week, he had garnered >12,000 page views. That’s a much bigger impact—but there’s more. Soon after that, he was contacted by a reporter for MSNBC.com who wanted to do a piece on his study. At this point, the study had been published in the peer-reviewed literature for 3 months. MSNBC.com published their article, which highlighted Peter’s work, along with others in his field, thus further enhancing Peter’s impact. Peter’s story is a bit of an exception to the norm—but those sorts of things can and do actually happen. On a more muted level, even small blogs like mine can generate higher impact. I may not reach 12,000 people with my posts, but I do reach more people than I would if I were not blogging.
  • A blog helps you build your web presence, which is becoming ever more important in today’s society. Nowadays the internet is often our go-to resource. Don’t know something or someone? Google. For those of you in my situation, where I’m getting ready to finish my Master’s and start looking for PhD opportunities or jobs, prospective employers will probably Google you. For those of you who are beyond where I am—your prospective students or employees will Google you. Blogs are also a great way to be transparent about your science. They don’t necessarily have to be transparent to the world. For example, Ben, the blogger behind Literature Review HQ, started a private progress blog for himself and his supervisors. Keeping this open record of his work improved his productivity and kept everyone involved with the project on the same page. There are also bloggers who keep this sort of open science record publically. Jean-Claude Bradley and his students at Drexel University have a live open lab notebook on his blog Useful Chemistry . The group writes down all the detail a scientist would include in a lab notebook except that the information is available on the Web for everyone to see and comment on. Rosie Redfield, a professor at UBC, follows a similar pattern. Her lab’s blog is a journal of their research activities. She writes about the tests she and her lab are running, the preliminary results, what they think those results mean, and their next steps and goals, with the goal of being transparent about their work to the general public, colleagues, and potential funders.
  • A blog helps you build your web presence, which is becoming ever more important in today’s society. Nowadays the internet is often our go-to resource. Don’t know something or someone? Google. For those of you in my situation, where I’m getting ready to finish my Master’s and start looking for PhD opportunities or jobs, prospective employers will probably Google you. For those of you who are beyond where I am—your prospective students or employees will Google you. Blogs are also a great way to be transparent about your science. They don’t necessarily have to be transparent to the world. For example, Ben, the blogger behind Literature Review HQ, started a private progress blog for himself and his supervisors. Keeping this open record of his work improved his productivity and kept everyone involved with the project on the same page. There are also bloggers who keep this sort of open science record publically. Jean-Claude Bradley and his students at Drexel University have a live open lab notebook on his blog Useful Chemistry . The group writes down all the detail a scientist would include in a lab notebook except that the information is available on the Web for everyone to see and comment on. Rosie Redfield, a professor at UBC, follows a similar pattern. Her lab’s blog is a journal of their research activities. She writes about the tests she and her lab are running, the preliminary results, what they think those results mean, and their next steps and goals, with the goal of being transparent about their work to the general public, colleagues, and potential funders.
  • A blog helps you build your web presence, which is becoming ever more important in today’s society. Nowadays the internet is often our go-to resource. Don’t know something or someone? Google. For those of you in my situation, where I’m getting ready to finish my Master’s and start looking for PhD opportunities or jobs, prospective employers will probably Google you. For those of you who are beyond where I am—your prospective students or employees will Google you. Blogs are also a great way to be transparent about your science. They don’t necessarily have to be transparent to the world. For example, Ben, the blogger behind Literature Review HQ, started a private progress blog for himself and his supervisors. Keeping this open record of his work improved his productivity and kept everyone involved with the project on the same page. There are also bloggers who keep this sort of open science record publically. Jean-Claude Bradley and his students at Drexel University have a live open lab notebook on his blog Useful Chemistry . The group writes down all the detail a scientist would include in a lab notebook except that the information is available on the Web for everyone to see and comment on. Rosie Redfield, a professor at UBC, follows a similar pattern. Her lab’s blog is a journal of their research activities. She writes about the tests she and her lab are running, the preliminary results, what they think those results mean, and their next steps and goals, with the goal of being transparent about their work to the general public, colleagues, and potential funders.
  • A blog helps you build your web presence, which is becoming ever more important in today’s society. Nowadays the internet is often our go-to resource. Don’t know something or someone? Google. For those of you in my situation, where I’m getting ready to finish my Master’s and start looking for PhD opportunities or jobs, prospective employers will probably Google you. For those of you who are beyond where I am—your prospective students or employees will Google you. Blogs are also a great way to be transparent about your science. They don’t necessarily have to be transparent to the world. For example, Ben, the blogger behind Literature Review HQ, started a private progress blog for himself and his supervisors. Keeping this open record of his work improved his productivity and kept everyone involved with the project on the same page. There are also bloggers who keep this sort of open science record publically. Jean-Claude Bradley and his students at Drexel University have a live open lab notebook on his blog Useful Chemistry . The group writes down all the detail a scientist would include in a lab notebook except that the information is available on the Web for everyone to see and comment on. Rosie Redfield, a professor at UBC, follows a similar pattern. Her lab’s blog is a journal of their research activities. She writes about the tests she and her lab are running, the preliminary results, what they think those results mean, and their next steps and goals, with the goal of being transparent about their work to the general public, colleagues, and potential funders.
  • Blogging will almost certainly improve your writing skills. Writing is like most everything else in life—it gets better when you practice a lot. And if you often do posts reviewing scientific literature, then blogging can also improve your reading and interpretation skills.
  • Bora Zivkovic, the blog editor at Scientific American and affectionately known in the blogging world as “The Blogfather” has expressed his view that science bloggers often become as good—or better—than professional science journalists. He says that since science bloggers are self-selected for love of writing and since they generally blog about topics they’re familiar with, it takes a relatively short time for a science blogger to become an excellent writer and science communicator.
  • At the heart of it, the motivation to blog is the urge to promote science, to say "this is why being a scientist is amazing", to reach other people & get them excited about science.
  • So there are a lot of common questions I get when I start talking about blogging. The most common one is “how much time does it take?” Blogging does require some time-commitment. Writing posts takes up time—generally 30 minutes to a couple hours, depending on the length and content of your post. One way to decrease time constraints—and something I highly recommend—is to have multiple contributors to your blog. So for example, do a lab blog in which each member of the lab takes turns writing posts. If you have 12 people in your lab and you aim to post every other week—well, that’s only 2 posts per person each year. Low time investment, high impact outreach. Becoming an established blogger takes patience and effort. You won’t be getting all the benefits of a blog if you don’t put in the effort to communicate with other bloggers, make yourself known, maybe do a bit of tactful self-promotion. Persistence is essential in the blogging world. Many people also ask, well, how personal do you get on your blog? It can be uncomfortable putting yourself out there for the world to see. Do you keep your online and offline identities separate? Should you use your real name or a pseudonym? That’s a decision that you have to make for yourself. Personally, I blog under my real name and I don’t keep a conscious separation between my online and offline identities. But what if you’d rather separate your online and offline presence? Let’s talk a little about the use of pseudonyms.
  • So there are a lot of common questions I get when I start talking about blogging. The most common one is “how much time does it take?” Blogging does require some time-commitment. Writing posts takes up time—generally 30 minutes to a couple hours, depending on the length and content of your post. One way to decrease time constraints—and something I highly recommend—is to have multiple contributors to your blog. So for example, do a lab blog in which each member of the lab takes turns writing posts. If you have 12 people in your lab and you aim to post every other week—well, that’s only 2 posts per person each year. Low time investment, high impact outreach. Becoming an established blogger takes patience and effort. You won’t be getting all the benefits of a blog if you don’t put in the effort to communicate with other bloggers, make yourself known, maybe do a bit of tactful self-promotion. Persistence is essential in the blogging world. Many people also ask, well, how personal do you get on your blog? It can be uncomfortable putting yourself out there for the world to see. Do you keep your online and offline identities separate? Should you use your real name or a pseudonym? That’s a decision that you have to make for yourself. Personally, I blog under my real name and I don’t keep a conscious separation between my online and offline identities. But what if you’d rather separate your online and offline presence? Let’s talk a little about the use of pseudonyms.
  • First off, I want to be clear: pseudonymity is not the same thing as anonymity. Anonymous users are not consistent or identifiable by their web presence. Pseudonymous users choose a pseudonym—a false name—and build an identity around that name. Their pseudonyms are consistent and identifiable, just not linked to their offline identity. Scicurious, a blogger on the Scientopia network, is a good example of pseudonymous blogging—she chose to use a pseudonym because she does animal research and was concerned about receiving negative attention from animal rights activists. So for her, the main pro is that those potential issues are no longer a concern. Another pro of using a pseudonym is that it does not interfere with your professional life, as your pseudonym is not tied to your offline identity. On the flip side of that coin, however, blogging accolades do not translate to your offline life. Also, it can be difficult to establish a pseudonymous identity. You may encounter initial distrust from others, since you can’t point to evidence of your offline expertise. Again, your identity is your choice, so you can weigh these factors and decide for yourself what suits you best.
  • Another question people ask is “how do you deal with negative comments on your blog?”. And there are two types of negative comments. The first is when someone disagrees with what you’ve done and maybe doesn’t mince words in saying so. This is usually a good type of negative comment, the kind that stimulates discussion about the post. But there are also non-productive negative comments. In internet-slang, people who leave these are called trolls.
  • Basically, a troll is someone who posts a deliberately provocative message with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.How best to deal with trolls? Ignore them. Remove their comments from your blog if you need to. Most blogs have a comment policy, which outlines what is considered trolling and how trolls will be dealt with (for example, trolling comments deleted, trolls banned from site).However, trolling comments are in the minority. It’s much more often that I see substantive discussions happening in blog comment sections, or people thanking the blogger for giving such a clear explanation of their science.
  • Two final questions that folks generally have about blogging are “can I blog about my work?” and “what if my science gets scooped”? To address the first: Some jobs may require you not to blog about anything related to your job (e.g., agencies). There are likely some things an agency scientist could do—but be cautious. It’s always best to check with supervisors before you begin blogging, if your aim is to blog about your work. As for the second, open science often brings with it fears of being “scooped”. In some fields this is a more pressing concern—for example, in biomedical fields, the fear of being scooped is very present. In other fields, this might not be the case. In fact, the opposite may even happen—in 2005, Reed Cartwright, a PhD student at UGA wrote about his interpretation of a previously published finding. Later, Luca Comai at UC Davis was publishing a similar interpretation. When Comai found that Cartwright had already “published” the idea on his blog, he offered Cartwright co-authorship on the paper. That might not represent the average everyday situation. But personally, with the exception of a few certain fields, I don’t think “scooping” represents the average situation either. In any case, it is totally up to the blogger how much he or she wants to reveal about current work.
  • Two final questions that folks generally have about blogging are “can I blog about my work?” and “what if my science gets scooped”? To address the first: Some jobs may require you not to blog about anything related to your job (e.g., agencies). There are likely some things an agency scientist could do—but be cautious. It’s always best to check with supervisors before you begin blogging, if your aim is to blog about your work. As for the second, open science often brings with it fears of being “scooped”. In some fields this is a more pressing concern—for example, in biomedical fields, the fear of being scooped is very present. In other fields, this might not be the case. In fact, the opposite may even happen—in 2005, Reed Cartwright, a PhD student at UGA wrote about his interpretation of a previously published finding. Later, Luca Comai at UC Davis was publishing a similar interpretation. When Comai found that Cartwright had already “published” the idea on his blog, he offered Cartwright co-authorship on the paper. That might not represent the average everyday situation. But personally, with the exception of a few certain fields, I don’t think “scooping” represents the average situation either. In any case, it is totally up to the blogger how much he or she wants to reveal about current work.
  • So if you’re now considering becoming a blogger, I have 10 handy tips for you.First, decide who you are writing for. Kids? Adults? Non-scientists? Your colleagues? Your parents?Figure out who you want to be. Do you want to blog under your real name or use a pseudonym? What will the tone of your blog be? Are you lighthearted and fun or do you prefer being serious?Read other science blogs. See what you like about them and what you don’t like. The blog name you choose is pretty important, so put some thought into it. You want a name that’s short and memorable, and something that is meaningful given the content of your blog. Check to make sure there aren’t other blogs with very similar names to yours. Get started! Write some posts, publish some posts. Don’t wait too long; that makes getting started more difficult. You don’t have to have 100% certain answers to the first two points here. You can feel it out and refine your blogging style as time goes on.Once you feel comfortable with your blog and your style, start putting the word out. There are lots of ways to publicize your blog. You can list yourself at an aggregation network like researchblogging.org. You can post links on Facebook and Twitter. You can comment on other blogs and leave a link to your blog. It’s best to have a substantive comment though; simply posting a link to your blog is bad etiquette and generally frowned upon. There are also blog carnivals you can submit your writing to, which are gatherings of posts by different authors on one topic. At this point in the blogging process, you’ll probably start to become friends with other science bloggers. And these folks are great resources, especially for beginning bloggers. So if you have questions, ask! Most people will be happy to help you out.Stay positive. If someone points out something you’ve got wrong, acknowledge it, apologize, and correct it. If someone trolls you…well, some people are just not nice. Don’t let it get to you.It takes some time to build your blogging identity and reputation. Persistence is key.Blogging is fun! Enjoy it.
  • So let me end with just a couple final thoughts. First, I recommend starting your blog on Blogger or Wordpress. These two blogging platforms are very popular, and for good reason—they’re both easy to use and have fairly intuitive user interfaces.Second, I mentioned that we had some resources for you. In order to be green and not waste paper, as well as keep in the theme of social media, we’ve started a wiki for you. So if you go to our wiki on wikispaces, just the address restoration2012.wikispaces.com, on the Blogging Resources page you’ll find links to blogs, relevant papers and blogposts. We hope that this wiki is a helpful resource for you as you get started with social media, and please feel free to contribute anything else that you feel is useful.And with that, I’ll say…
  • …thank you for being here! It’s been a pleasure to talk to you and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Science Story-tellingIris Kemp@iriskempsalmon.southernfriedscience.com #rest12
    • 2. What is a blog?
    • 3. What is a blog?A blog is a website that is periodically updated withposts, with the most recent content appearing first.Blogger: person who writes for a blogBlogging: the act of writing for a blogNetwork: community of blogsThere are lots of great blogs and blogging networks…
    • 4. Blogging networks
    • 5. Who blogs? Shema et al. 2012 PLoS ONE 7(5)
    • 6. Who blogs? Shema et al. 2012 PLoS ONE 7(5)
    • 7. My blogging storyI wanted to improve myscience communication skillsand broaden my impact.And I wanted to get people excitedabout salmon and science.
    • 8. My blogging story20102011
    • 9. Why blog?communication MORE communication
    • 10. Why blog?Blogs enable you to read widely, makeconnections, and expand your scientific network.Science blogs demystify science for the public.As I became more publically aware, I realized thatlack of scientific literacy is a big problem here inthe United States. Non-scientists face two big issues:
    • 11. Campfire CommunicationsImage by Mel Bochner
    • 12. Journals limit access to articles and require fees.Scientific literature can be dense and difficult toread for the layperson.Science blogs are FREE.Science bloggers minimize use of jargon.Goal: to write posts understandable to anon-scientist while not losing important meaning.
    • 13. Why blog?Science blogging increases awareness andinterest in scientific literature.The change in impact can be substantial.
    • 14. Why blog?Science blogging increases awareness andinterest in scientific literature.The change in impact can be substantial. Figure from McKenzie & Ozler 2011 World Bank
    • 15. Meet Peter Janiszewski Peter published a study in Diabetes Care, gave internationaltalks, but felt he hadn’t reached his desiredimpact level.
    • 16. So he blogged about his work.
    • 17. Within the week, he had>12,000 page views
    • 18. I might not reach >12,000 people with each of myposts…But I reach more than I wouldif I were not blogging.
    • 19. Why blog?communication MOREweb presence communication
    • 20. Why blog? you. People will google What do you want them to find?YOUR NAME
    • 21. Why blog?communication transparency MOREweb presence communication
    • 22. Why blog?Some labs use blogs to keep open lab notebooks.The goal is to be transparent about their work tothe general public, colleagues, & potential funders.
    • 23. Why blog?communication transparency reading skills MOREweb presence writing skills communication
    • 24. Science bloggers […] become very, very good writers, often as good (or better) as the professional science journalists.Bora ZivkovicBlog EditorScientifc American
    • 25. Why blog? SCIENCE ISEXCITING
    • 26. But what about…?Time commitment
    • 27. Time spent writing depends on lengthand content of your posts.One way to decrease time constraints: Keep a group blog.If you have 12 lab members And you aim to post every other week That’s 2 posts per person per year Low time commitment; potentially high impact
    • 28. But what about…?Time commitmentBlogging identity
    • 29. PseudonymityPseudonymity is NOT anonymity. Pseudonyms are consistent and identifiable, but not linked to offline identity.Pseudonym pros:• Safety issues are of less concern• Does not interfere with professional lifePseuonym cons:• Blogging accolades do not translate to offline life• Initial distrust of others towards you
    • 30. But what about…?Time commitments & persistenceBlogging identityNegative comments (trolls)
    • 31. Trolls “In internet slang, a troll is someone who postsinflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” Definition from Wikipedia
    • 32. The best way to deal with trolls? Ignore them.
    • 33. But what about…?Time commitments & persistenceBlogging identityNegative comments (trolls)Job limitations
    • 34. Some jobs might require you not to blog about your work. It’s best to check with your supervisor before starting your blog.
    • 35. But what about…?Time commitments & persistenceBlogging identityNegative comments (trolls)Job limitationsGetting “scooped”
    • 36. In some fields, getting scooped is apressing concern. But not all fields.It is the blogger’s decision what he or she wants to reveal about current work.
    • 37. DIY bloggingSome tips to get started1. Decide who your audience will be.2. Establish your blogging identity.3. Read. A LOT.4. Name your blog.5. Write!6. Publicize yourself.7. Ask questions.8. Grow a thick skin.9. Be persistent.10.Have fun!
    • 38. DIY bloggingSocial media wiki:restoration2012.wikispaces.com
    • 39. Thank you! Questions? restoration2012.wikispaces.comIris Kemp@iriskempsalmon.southernfriedscience.com #rest12