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Why Do Scientists Blog?

BY BETH | JUN 09 2010

One of the ideas I’ve been tossing around for a blog posting here is: Why do scientists blog?  I mean, I’ve been a personal blogger for nearly five years and have been blogging here at The Black Hole since October, surely I have some insights on why people do this, right? Yet I’d been struggling to come up with a coherent explanation…. and then one of the science bloggers that I read went and wrote a five-part series on exactly this ((If you are interested, I suggest you check out his series “How Blogging Helps Me”: parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. )).  Some of the reasons given there (both by the blogger and by the blog readers in the comments section):

  • It doesn’t taken long to whip up a blog posting, but when you need a short break from your work,  it’s a more productive way to spend 5-10 minutes between doing other work (as opposed to, say, surfing the ‘net).  How is it productive? you ask… read on!
  • Blogging allows you to be part of a community. Thanks to the web, it’s easy to find someone who is going through (or has just gone through or is about to go through) the same thing as you.  So even if you are in a small department with no other people at the same stage of career as you, you can find the support/advice/motivation you need.  Whether you are a PhD student considering whether or not to go the academic route, a newbie on the tenure-track, someone who has left academics, etc., you will be able to find others like you in the blogosphere – and you will be able to help out others in the same way.
  • Blogging can get energized about your work.  Sometimes you need a forum to vent or to ruminate.  Blogging about problems with your research (or your career track) can sometimes help you figure out the next steps to take.
  • Blogging can help you learning about other people’s perspectives.  Because writing a blog doesn’t stop at writing a blog – you’ll get comments from readers that really make you think. Then you’ll follow the links of those readers to their blogs and learn all sorts of new stuff there.

Now, those ideas come from a blog focused on the process of being a tenure track prof, rather than a blog about the science itself.  Plenty of scientists use a blog to talk about their work and for them it’s easy to see benefits like:

  • raising awareness about your own line of research
  • communicating with the public about science (and all the benefits that go along with that)

So now I put the question to you – do you blog?  If so, why?

Some interesting blogs you may want to check out ((feel free to recommend other blogs in the comments section too!))

  • Alternative Scientist – a group written blog by people who didn’t follow the academic path (it hasn’t been very active lately, but there are some good postings in the archives)
  • FrogHeart – “Commentary about nanotech, science policy and communication, society, and the arts”
  • Nature.com blogs – a whole slew of scientists blog here
  • Nerd Girl’s blog on the Globe & Mail site
  • Prof-Like Substance – “Because being early tenure track faculty is even stranger than you think”
  • UBC Faculty Association blog (this one is focused on the Faculty Association’s current round of bargaining with the university as a way of keeping the faculty members informed)
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  1. […] June 14, 2010 This post from The Black Hole, a blog on Science Advocacy explains why scientists should blog. […]