Role for Science Blogging
September 26, 2007
A bit early in the game for me to get reflective but motivations come as they will. A note from Dr. Free-Ride of Adventures in Ethics and Science indicates that members of her department (presumably the advocates!) felt strongly that her blogging efforts should be a component of her tenure dossier. The good Professor Orzel of Uncertain Principles indicates that he’s fully out of the closet with respect to blogging, particularly since signing a book deal resulting from a blog posting. A couple of SB(tm)-ers ran a poll on science blogging that asked, amongst other things, essentially whether one would ever consider blogging as a replacement for other “legitimate”scientific publishing (this is from memory).
My first response is similar to a comment on Dr. Free-Ride’s post suggesting that too much formality would “ruin the blogginess“. It’s true. Adding the potential for career evaluation, or even for that matter a professional standard of expectation, would ruin the process. I see strengths in the informality, incompleteness of thought, risk taking on “coming all over jackass” (as Bill would have it) and frank invitation to discussion. I’ve noticed that I didn’t have as much to say about drug abuse science (i.e., the papers) as I was expecting and I think this has a lot to do with the above blog-survey questions. No, I don’t really envision blogging as a replacement for the scientific activities, most specifically review articles. I might see the one-off on a paper at a time as a sort of journal club approach which would be okay. Anything deeper starts to stray into “Review” territory and I think I’d tend to avoid this. I should say upfront I really, really don’t get the Open Access Science thing. I mean, access to the journal articles and NIH funded manuscripts, yeah, I can see that. But all this electronic lab books posted on the internet stuff? I don’t get it. And I am not entirely sure that it is only an issue of the appropriate credit being assigned.
I am also reminded of another situation (which I leave unlinked intentionally) in which a fairly popular “issue” blogger shut down and deleted years’ of entries. A reader commented elsewhere that s/he was quite miffed because (paraphrasing) the blog was a “joint effort” between the blogger and those commenting. Therefore the decision to shut down affected those ad hoc collaborators’ efforts as well.
After an initial dismissive and impolite thought on this, I have to admit the idea stuck in mind. I’ve been kicking it around for a bit and this may or may not have influenced some of my posts of late being a bit more overt in trying to elicit opinions from readers on certain topics. Ultimately I guess I’m starting to agree on the collaborative effort thing, particularly when comments go into such depth. (I’m a TruBelieverz in the power of chewing over a topic thoroughly from multiple perspectives so thanks y’all for that. ) This also supports the value of the informality in my view. If comments were going into someone’s tenure file, like Dr. Free-Rides, would this inhibit discussion? For some topics it might.