Science blogging: a reader’s view

9 December 2008

A few days ago I wrote about my particular reasons for maintaining a science blog. This issue resonates among scientists, as I received many comments from my colleagues, and discovered their writings on the topic. But those who read science blogs have a view too, and I came across a particularly illuminating one today, from a blog entitled My Fair Scientist with the subheading “An account of my makeover from English major to professional geneticist– over considerably more than six months.”

I want to take this opportunity only to acknowledge my gratitude for the science blogosphere. Sure, scientific knowledge is available elsewhere. But where else can an outsider hang with scientists? Moreover, where else can an outsider differentiate between the attitudes that help a real-life scientist succeed, and the attitudes that don’t? Even when she lurks, she remains privy to the good advice they dispense online to one another.

I had not thought of this view, the idea blogs allow one to rub shoulders with scientists. Certainly it is far easier on a blog than in real life. But scientists generally have reasonable access to one another, so it is not surprising that non-scientists appreciate the interaction that a blog can provide. I suggest that you follow some scientists on Twitter to glean the 140 character advice that they dispense. Or try one of the new science networking sites such as BioCrowd.

The blogger continues:

Science bloggers have made it clear to me that science, like our economy, is a fierce world. (Except it’s fun, unlike the economy.) They have emphasized the importance of authentic longing to know, and they have sailed into the fray with banners and heads high. They’ve been gentle and rough. They have been imperfect in the great and only business of being wrong. They have been a joy to watch.

In addition to talking about science, I suppose we also provide an honest view of the business of science. Competition, grants, mentoring, publishing, are all topics that we touch upon even if we do not plan to. These are issues I rarely heard about before I went into science. Does early access to this information make for a better scientist? Or does it scare away many who would have otherwise entered the field in the pre-blogging era?

“The longing to know”. Well-put, Fair Scientist! The longing will take you a great deal of the way…the rest will require tenacity and creativity.