Science of Blogging

Science of Blogging

A new blog, appropriately called the Science of Blogging, promises to highlight how and why all scientists should be… blogging. Here’s the detail.Promoting and communicating science is what we do at 24 Media Labs and so it’s always great to hear about new initiatives from entrepreneurial scientists trying to do things a bit differently. Peter Janiszewski (and here) (PhD) and Travis Saunders (PhD in waiting) started Science of Blogging in November 2010 and it seems to be hitting a rather positive nerve (may be to the apparent surprise of the authors).

The how part of the blog is good stuff with plenty of tips and tricks posted already. I love the recent post of Travis Saunders arguing that if you can write an email, then you can write a blog. A very valid observation. There’s also some neat advice on starting a blog, promoting your blog, whether to write under a pseudonym, and what makes a blog successful. This is all very interesting and I, for one, hope they continue dishing this advice out.

The bit that I’m really interested in is the ‘why’. I have previously said that this blog will be all about how to promote science in the media. It seems that Science of Blogging has already given us a great first example of why this is so important. And, you might be surprised by their story.

Two years ago, Peter and Travis set up this blog on obesity research. One of the drivers for doing this was that they were getting royally ticked off with doing decent science, publishing it and… nothing. That was it. No reaction, no press, just silence.

One example is this paper which was published in Diabetes Care. This is a fairly prestigious journal to get published in. Now, despite this achievement, promoting it at conferences, and having a message that is seemingly rather important to the field, it apparently met with near silence from the scientific community (in terms of citations) and the press (in terms of articles). There is nothing unusual in this but annoying if you feel that your message is important.

After getting the paper published in June 2010, they produced this 5-part series on the topic on their blog (now hosted on PLoS blogs) in September 2010 to try to get a bit more publicity. This, apparently, led to just over 12,000 page views and over 70 comments in one week.  That is a serious achievement in terms of knowledge translation. As they point out, publishing in a prestigious journal basically made no impact until they decided to start discussing it online a few months later.

It does not end there. After digging around a bit, we’ve found further mentions, blog posts and news articles relating to the paper here, here, here, here and here. And, of course, there is also the article at MSNBC which certainly helped push the message further in October 2010.

You might say, so what? And you might well feel that no press is good news. No stress of interviews, no journalists knocking on your lab door, no hassles from your superiors etc etc. Well that is fine, but friends, think of this. Knowledge translation, outreach and communications are starting to become a very serious driver of funding bodies. If you have a demonstrated track record of publishing work that has received media attention, it will help you win that next prestigious grant, which will keep you in your job.

The next question is obviously how this experience has impacted on the citation record of the paper. We’ll deal with that another time.


Have you had a similar experience? Have you made some efforts to promote your research and seen positive results? We’re always interested in stories of successes of promoting science in the media. Get in contact if you want to share your story.

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2 Responses to Science of Blogging: New blog tells us why and how all scientists should be blogging

  1. Travis says:

    Thanks for letting people know about Science of Blogging, Max! It’s great to know that people are finding it useful, and we’re hopeful that it will help convince other researchers that it’s worth venturing into social media.

    Keep in touch,

    Travis

  2. Joseph says:

    I just happened to find this blog and I’m very impressed with this article about how science writers can promote their content.

    Regarding your mention of obesity research: I always look for credible news sources when preparing content for my readers, thus I was happy to refer to your work. And thank you for providing a backlink to my article “The Healthy Obese? Don’t Bet Your Life On It”.

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