Where do you get science news? Two decades ago, you probably have answered “TV news,” “newspapers,” or “magazines.” Now, science blogs—written by wide range of authors, from journalists, science buffs, to scientists themselves—have emerged as the go-to source for science news.
Historically, researchers strictly restrained their communications to either formal talks given at conferences or publications in peer-reviewed science journals, with the latter as the end-goal. This method tends to be one-way discussion that only shows the polished, final product, with a lot of things omitted along the way. The process also takes time to reach the reader, and in turn, reader response takes time to relay back to the scientists.
Although the publish or perish principle still holds true in research today, increasing number of scientists participate in science blogging as an additional—not alternative…yet—method of communication. Some post a day-to-day research progress, like Dr. Rosie Redfield in RRResearch, while others like to discuss various topics that the bloggers found intriguing, like my blog here.
So why blog about science? A scientist, science-communication enthusiast, and herself a science blogger, Eva Amsen interviewed scientists and science writers to find out why.
Reason 1) Meet other scientists
Blogs work like a bulletin board, where people with similar interests can find each other. This is a good way to share their knowledge and, for scientists, to collaborate on future projects.
Reason 2) Keep up with current topics
Most blogs are updated frequently, if not daily. This motivates both the blogger and the reader to stay on top of recent developments.
Reason 3) Bring together science enthusiasts
Similar to Reason 1 above, blogs bring together people who are passionate about science.
Reason 4) Outlet for interesting topics that didn’t make it to paid work
This is mostly for science writers. Sometimes (or often?) writers find topics that are fascinating but not quite fitted for paid work. So they post on their blogs instead. After experimenting and exploring the topic in collections of blogs, it could end up in a book or magazine article.
Reason 5) Contribute to the discussion of science
Blogging is a great way to promote discussion. While not many readers send a letter to the editor (which is the traditional approach for science journals), many readers are willing to leave comments on blogs. This allows for the instant feedback for the bloggers and other readers.
Who Benefits From Science Blogging?