Science Blog and Scientists – Oil and Water?

Facebook and the Social Media Trinity, Blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter clearly have no place in science. Science has got on just fine over the years without any intervention from blogs or social media. If anything, they are more of a distraction. What is a science blog anyway, an online diary? Mindless entertainment? What possible use could it be to a scientist? All the information a scientist will ever need is published in good old peer reviewed journals or presented at conferences.

Is this the view of most scientists? It really is very hard to tell but I’m sure some people do believe this and it’s not difficult to see why. Blogs are online diaries, mindless entertainment and people with too much to say for themselves spouting meaningless ramblings.

However, in my view, as a scientist, science blogs can also be much more.

My First Science Blog

I started using blogs during my PhD. It was one of my supervisors who suggested I kept a private blog (i.e. just for me and my supervisors) to maintain an online record of the work I was doing. This was nothing fancy, just a standard Blogger page, very plain and dull but it served a purpose.

Running a science blog during my PhD worked out really well and had 3 clear benefits:

  • Everyone involved in my PhD knew easily what I was up to.
  • I was very productive because I was held accountable.
  • In any meeting, it was easy to find and show information and figures from the blog.

Learning From Other Science Blogs

I also started reading a very informative blog during my PhD called Bitesize Bio. Even in its early days, this was a fantastic resource, and it has steadily grown ever since. Every other article they produced seemed to be something genuinely helpful. Information that would take you ages to find in a textbook, or simply wouldn’t exist.

If you’re studying any kind of molecular biology then I recommend checking out this site.

A Specialized Science Blog

Then there is my baby, LiteratureReviewHQ.com. Starting this blog really changed the way I interacted with the internet as a scientist.

The main reason I started is because I wanted to learn more. I used the blog as an excuse to become a relative expert in academic writing, which was something I considered myself to be quite weak at.

At the same time, I wanted to create something useful for academics, something that I would find useful myself. I chose to blog about the literature review because it was an area that I had real problems with. I had learned a lot when I started writing my thesis so I did have something to say.

Starting the blog has helped me improve critical skills as a scientist, and in the process I hope that I’m also helping other people.

These are three ways in which blogs have helped me already and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other reasons for running a science blog.

Scientists and a science blog, like oil and water

A Science Blog For You

As a student you can write and find personal blogs that help to motivate you or provide you with information. You can meet people virtually to discuss ideas and solve research problems.

To me being a scientist also means being a teacher and a trainer. Blogs and web 2.0 are perfect platforms to deliver multimedia training with a global reach. Imagine if you had or knew of a blog that posted tailor made training for someone who was working in your lab – how incredibly useful would that be?

As a scientist, a blog helps you to build a web presence, which helps to raise the profile of your research online. This will allow you and your research to stand out to potential students and funding bodies.

This leads to building your personal and professional online footprint. Personal branding is no longer just something for celebrities. We all need to consider how we are perceived on the internet.

The first thing most perspective employers or collaborators will do is to type your name into Google. What do you want them to see? With blogs and Web 2.0 it is easier than ever to get yourself out there and control (to some extent) what people will find.

The Future Of Science Blogging

While early adopters of blogs and web 2.0 will enjoy an edge for a while, I don’t think this will last. Using web tool to communicate your science will be the norm. I honestly believe that at some time in the near future, not having a web presence will be detrimental to your scientific career. In other words,

A meaningful online presence will be a requirement to find work and win grant money in science

The Internet has changed and is changing the way we communicate. Science is all about communication so it makes sense to tap into these web tools to help us further our scientific causes.

Are you ready for science blogging?

Get Your Science Blog

Are you jealous of these science blogs? Are you convinced of the benefits of running your science blog?

Would you like to have your own science blog but don’t know where to start? We offer you a 2-step process:

  1. Check our Resources for Digital Scientists page to find all you need to get started in science blogging.
  2. Register to our newsletter and have access to 6 videos that teach you How To Do Your Own Science Blog, covering

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  • Registering a domain name for your science blog.
  • How to install WordPress.
  • Writing your first blog post.
  • Editing the home page of your science blog.
  • Installing themes to change the visual layout of your blog.
  • How to add extra functions to your blog with plugins.

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About Ben

Ben is the mastermind behind LiteratureReviewHQ.com, where he blogs and podcasts about literature review and academic writing. You can follow him on Twitter (@litreviewhq).

Comments

  1. Great post. Ben, I’ve been following your work since some time now and I clearly agree when you say to where we scientist are going on this 2.0 era. Good to know about this blog and I will be watching out for it.

    Greeting from Mexico.

  2. Thanks for following my work. I hope it’s been useful and you stay around for what is to come. 

    Saludos desde Liverpool

  3. Ellen van Kleef says:

    I absolutely agree. Writing blog posts also helps me to form and refine my opinion on various papers and topics. I love the instant gratification of being ‘ productive’  instead of having to wait for months or years before a peer-reviewed paper comes through.

    Ellen http://foodintakecontrol.blogspot.nl/

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