Blogging for the science community

I’m very excited to present a new paper on blogging that is a direct result of me blogging! The paper is co-authored with some of the awesome ecology bloggers I have been following for years.

I’m proud to fly the flag for the southern-hemisphere blogosphere. Social media are dominated by the northern hemisphere, particularly North America. The timezone effect and geographical silos have a strong effect on how academics interact via social media, and southern hemisphere perspectives can be easily overlooked. Yet, compared to the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere has more countries, plenty of unique ecosystems and wildlife, and quite different higher education and academic systems! So I really hope this paper inspires more southern hemisphere ecologists to engage with blogs.

I started blogging nearly 8 years ago at the very start of my academic career. My first posts were suitably naïve. But the blog has been a great way for me to look back at my earliest posts and see how much my writing, rhetoric, and research skills have developed since then. By a long-shot, the biggest personal benefits I have received from blogging are the international academic networks I have connected with via blogs. From blogs alone, I have gleaned academic advice and research tips, found new papers in my field sooner than I would have found them through standard networks, and started new collaborations (case in point!). As an early career researcher, I really valued the advice and perspectives I found on blogs, especially at times when I was struggling with isolation at my own institution.

So when Simon Leather (from Don’t Forget the Roundabouts) emailed me to ask if I would be interested in being involved in a potential paper about ecology blogging, I jumped at the chance.

It was the second time I had worked on a collaborative paper with people I didn’t know in person (although I had met Terry when he visited Australia a couple of years ago). This one was a direct outcome of the benefits of online networking! As an early career researcher, I had the usual confidence issues about working with senior researchers I didn’t know very well. But it was definitely worth it.

We thought it might be a difficult paper to get published, but after a few knock-backs, Royal Society Open Science agreed to send it out for review. It was accepted without revision and they were the best reviews I have ever received for any paper I’ve been involved in. I’m going to print those reviews and stick them on my office wall, as a reminder that peer review can be a positive experience! Over the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve heard plenty of criticisms and questions about why I ‘waste’ time blogging. So the positive reviews were a really nice indication that the value of blogs is starting to be recognised by other scientists. And I am stoked that the paper is published open access in a top-notch journal – especially from the Royal Society, who were one of the first scientific societies to encourage and promote the value of science communication.

You can read the full text of our paper here. In a nutshell, we argue that academic blogs are valuable for individuals and the broader academic community. We analyse readership data from our own blogs to highlight some ways bloggers can measure their reach and impact. We also use examples to illustrate how blogs are valuable for indirect mentorship and professional development, and they can also be citable primary sources. Our perspective is as ecology bloggers, but I think the overall ideas are relevant to other disciplines too.

Also check out these stories from the other authors (if the links don’t work, try again later, as the post may not be live yet)

Simon Leather (@EntoProf) Don’t Forget the Roundabouts

Terry McGlynn (@hormiga) & Amy Parachnowitsch (@EvoEcoAmy) Small Pond Science

Steve Heard (@StephenBHeard) Scientist Sees Squirrel

Meghan Duffy (@duffy_ma) Dynamic Ecology

Jeff Ollerton (@JeffOllerton) Jeff Ollerton’s Biodiversity Blog

Margaret Kosmala (@margaretkosmala) Ecology Bits


Pic credit: Terry McGlynn


© Manu Saunders 2017

8 thoughts on “Blogging for the science community

  1. Marco October 19, 2017 / 3:56 AM

    Congrats for the nice paper! It was discussed in my lab’s journal club today.

    Liked by 1 person

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