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Posts Tagged blogging

Science-y reading Grant Jacobs Apr 10

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A reading list, a blogging website and a few books for my readers to check out.

Enjoy ”fiction featuring a scientist as a central character, plying his or her trade as a profession in the real world”? You’re looking for lablit. Jennifer Rohn, author of two lablit novels herself,* has just added 29 additions to The List at LabLit. Check it out for reading ideas. (You can contact them if you think they’ve missed any out.)

lablit-masthead

U20 Science is a blog collective for teenagers writing on science. It sounds a great initiative – newcomers are welcome and you can encourage it as readers, too. I guess you can think of it as a sort-of sciblogs (this place!) for people who aren’t yet old and grumpy!

(Pendants: you can quibble with details of what they offer—they’re younger, after all—but if you must point out things be a mentor, not a critic - encourage them to peek a little closer at these things that obviously interest them enough to write about them rather than be negative.)

Below are a few books I’m unlikely to find time to properly review that I’ve encountered lately:

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Seeking science reading? Grant Jacobs Oct 31

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…you’ll want to know about the update to scienceseeker.org.

As I write ScienceSeeker pools science writing from 1240 blogs, indexing 163,472 articles.

A key new feature added is searching. Unlike limiting google to searching blogs, searching ScienceSeeker limits your search to those science-related sources that have been approved by the ScienceSeeker editors.

When you first land at ScienceSeeker, you’ll see the recent editor’s picks and below it posts with citations – those that are most likely to be directly covering the research literature. As well as the last few posts on ScienceSeeker, the right-hand side may show a selection of posts of whatever topical theme is running. (Selected posts about ‘super storm’ Sandy are up as I write.)

Clicking on ‘Posts’ from the site menubar (see above) will produce a list of the latest posts on ScienceSeeker, most recent first.

If you click on the date for a post, the (first portion of the) first paragraph will appear immediately under the title, as in the first example immediately above. (Alternatively you can click on the little ‘+’ to the right of the title.) Clicking on the title will take you to the article in a new tab.[1]

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Communicating data clearly Grant Jacobs Oct 25

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Correct and appropriate presentation of graphs matters. It’s worth taking time to consider how to present your data, to convey the information clearly in a way that is readily perceived and accurate.

Not just for scientists, either. Graphs are used ubiquitously, after all.

‘Convincing’, xkcd. Original: http://xkcd.com/833/

On-line there is some excellent material on presenting data. One example is a handout for a presentation[1] Communicating data clearly by Naomi Robbins, who writes Effective Graphs at Forbes blogs. (Some of us here take down poor science coverage in the media. Among other things Naomi writes, she takes down poor graphs in the media!)

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O Occam’s Grant Jacobs Aug 29

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Occasionally science bloggers make it to the mainstream. I’ve been too busy lately to bring this news to you sooner but one of my favourite crowds of science bloggers have cornered space at British newspaper stawart The Guardian’s website.

Occam’s Typewriter clearly takes part of it’s name from the well-known principle of parsimony, Occam’s Razor. One of the things that drew me to OT, as it’s known to it’s regulars, is their tendency to mostly write about the daily life of science, the things impinging on science, rather than ‘explainers’, popular science articles or tilting at the latest nonsense.[1]

Don’t get me wrong, all those things have their place and I like them too. (After all, I write a fair bit of those!) But it’s lovely to have a more gently-paced place to go and discuss things that I guess we can call ‘daily issues’. The sort of thing you might amble down to the local and share over a pint or two.

Featuring at the Guardian now is a group blog, Occam’s Corner, the newsprint corner stand of Occam’s Typewriter. Those who’ve been to London will know what I mean.

Early efforts include:

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“a blog is not the place for scientific reviews” Grant Jacobs Aug 16

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writes Prof. Christopher Shaw, currently under fire by blogger ‘Orac’ at Respectful Insolence. (See comment at August 15, 11:50 pm.)

Leaving aside the backstory, which is a separate issue that I don’t wish to debate here, why should science not be reviewed on blogs?

We’ve heard this one before – the NASA ‘arsenic life’ story being one well-known example.

Dr. Shaw wrote:

I’m not trying to duck any serious discussion, but, honestly, a blog is not the place for scientific reviews.

The key bit of my reply there was (see Footnotes for full copy) :

Heard that one before, I’m afraid, and for me it doesn’t ring true.

I’m a scientist. A blog is just a means of communication – just like email. That it’s open doesn’t make what is said “wrong”.

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Blogimmuniqué: 29-March-2012 Grant Jacobs Mar 30

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A blog communique – brief notes to my readers!

First up: my apologies for the temporary hiatus over the last few days. My time is being split into far too many directions… While I’m getting back on track again, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to updating people on what I’m doing, or introduce newer readers to some of what I hope to happen here.

New topics/series

First I’d like to briefly introduce a couple of several topics I hope to run in irregular fashion. These are unlikely to be a series in the more formal way, more as a thread of articles sharing a theme, perhaps under a running title. (I’m likely to run the series titles as sub-titles so that they don’t mess up the main title or make it longer than it needs to be.[1])

The first topic ‘series’ is Structures in our genomes, which follows one of my key research interests. I’d like to wind my way past different structures that are part of our genomes as one way of introducing non-scientist readers to their genomes. Genomes are often talked about as DNA sequences – I’d like to look at them as structures, which in many ways is what they really are. A proper introduction to this is in draft form at the moment.

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Science blogging in the New Zealand media Grant Jacobs Mar 20

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My article for today is over at Nature’s Soapbox Science.

During a recent Royal Institution discussion that I was following on-line via twitter Fiona Fox, head of the UK Science Media Centre (SMC), was reported as saying that ’blogs are fantastic but no journalists goes to them to look for full stories — must be realistic’. I thought that this wasn’t the experience of those writing here at the Sciblogs and suggested as much in reply.

Lou Woodley, on-line editor for Nature’s community forum and blogs and who was part of our on-line conversation, invited me to write a guest blog expanding on this. With the help of others writing here (huge thanks!), I have outlined some of the interactions with the New Zealand media we have experienced and offered a few thoughts as to why we experience this interaction.


A selection of articles on science communication at Code for life:

Communicating complex and post-normal science to the policy maker and the public — lessons from New Zealand

What should be taught in science communication courses?

When the abstract or conclusions aren’t accurate or enough

Of use of the active voice by scientists

Media thought: Ask what is known, not the expert’s opinion

Safari tip – checking HTML when there is no preview option Grant Jacobs Mar 09

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You know that really annoying thing, when you enter a comment on someone’s blog that lacks a preview feature, send the comment on it’s way only to discover that you forgot to close that italics tag? (Or bold, or underline.)

Here’s one way Safari users can check the HTML of their comments without leaving Safari. It’s not perfect, but some might find it fun to explore.

First enable the Develop menu. Although this is intended for web developers, we’re going to use one of it’s tools. Go to Safari > Preferences > Advanced and at the bottom of the Preferences pane enable ‘Show Develop menu in menu bar’. You should now see a new menu item Develop between Bookmarks and Window menu items along the top of the screen.

Clear the comment text-box you want to enter. (Word Press comment boxes typically have something like ’Leave you comment here…’ in them when you start.)

Select Develop > Show Snippet Editor.

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Blogging when your science doesn’t easily relate to the public Grant Jacobs Mar 07

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Ruminating about blogging an area that doesn’t easily relate to the public.[1]

Last year I introduced the new science blogging network at Scientific American.

David Kroll wrote a post introducing this network, too, and noted the lack of chemists in their line-up.

Bora replied in the comments:

I did struggle about it. People with chemistry background whose blogs I like (and think they fit in my network vision) tend not to blog about chemistry much. Or are taken by other networks, or unwilling to join one. But majority of chemistry bloggers write for each other, very inside baseball I cannot understand, thus not really fitting my vision (or SciAm focus on broad audiences).

(Bora co-ordinates the Scientific American blogs.)

Janet Stemwedel also added some thoughts:

a further question to explore, beyond who’s blogging and who isn’t (and why that might be), is who’s blogging as a chemist versus who’s blogging about chemistry. (Undoubtedly, this would prompt further discussion about what exactly counts as ’blogging about chemistry’ – the whole current peer reviewed research versus life in the tribe of chemists versus musings on chemistry in everyday life line-drawing. Because we seem to like line-drawing for some reason.) [Her emphasis.]

This struck a chord with me.

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ScienceOnline2012 – only two registration slots to go Grant Jacobs Nov 04

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ScienceOnline2011 is the sixth of the annual gatherings of the on-line science communication community at Raleigh, North Carolina.

Even if you have no intention of attending, but are interested in science communication, it’s worth reading the draft programme - the ideas in there should give you plenty to think about. (There is so much in the programme that I’m left wondering how participants are supposed to choose what sessions to attend.)

For those familiar with the on-line science writing community, those who have registered thus far read like a who’s who. having said that, as well as the established names, there are many new ones I’ve yet to run into. Read the rest of this entry »

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