Campus Science Magazines and/or Blogs

April 18, 2008

Karen Ventii
Karen Ventii of the Science to Life blog recently announced that she will be the editor-in-chief of a newly hatched science magazine at her local University. A comment brought my attention to the Berkeley Science Review which first published in 2001 (first editorial) with significant contribution from Jessica Palmer of bioephemera. This is the first I have run across this idea and it sounds really intriguing to me.
The implications of more direct outreach from scientists to an interested public are topics I have discussed before in the context of how scientists might blog and potential ethical considerations for scientist-blogging. Topics I solicited reader input on as well. Other than that, I’ve tended to leave implicit that which I’ll make explicit.

More direct communication between the scientists generating knowledge and their taxpaying employers/clients is a GoodThing

The “implicit” part of this is the fact that I blog on drug abuse and other science topics in the first place. To the extent that I’ve laid out any explicit arguments, this first post of mine post-assimilation is a decent start. I should note as well that I enjoy the blog fomat of science communication because it is bidirectional (see comment threads here, here, here.)
Nevertheless the notion of Universities with significant ongoing science to have a magazine for general science communication is really good. Sure, it can be a project for people specifically interested in science journalism, such as Karen Ventii. But it could also be a venue for scientists to explore communication to the non-expert audience. An established campus magazine, I’ll note, also addresses one of the potential concerns that scientist-bloggers might have in that their efforts would not be formally recognizable. (Who would cite their blog on their tenure dossier?) A campus magazine is at least a citable publication under the “Other” category even if it is not the expected peer-reviewed journal.
What think you, DearReader? Good idea? Bad idea? Glaring timesink for people such as grad students and junior faculty who need to concentrate on “real” science work?
And since there is a very good chance these sorts of efforts are common and I have simply not heard of them, do you have a local campus publication that is similar to the Berkeley Science Review or the magazine Karen is launching?

4 Responses to “Campus Science Magazines and/or Blogs”

  1. Laelaps Says:

    I’ve thought about proposing a science column in the Rutgers newspaper, or at least trying to get an editorial column and using it to talk about science. I’ve always assumed that no one would care, but maybe I should give it a shot.


  2. dh Says:

    From my experience at the Berkeley Science Review, it seemed that several of the people who became very involved with the magazine ended up leaving active research careers. In some cases, they were planning to go that way, but in others it wasn’t as clear when they started. Several now have policy related jobs.
    Despite interest, my own involvement ended fairly early because there was no way to spend enough time to be proud of my work and devote the appropriate time to research. At least in my own case, I came to the conclusion that this type of work would not be beneficial to getting my research career past its early stages. I don’t want to draw broad conclusions from my own experiences, but I don’t think the BSR can be held up as a model of complimentary science research and communication.


  3. Kishore Hari Says:

    Simply put, the Berkeley Science Review and other publications alike reach a certain “science friendly” audience. Not exactly average Joes and Janes walking down the street. Taking the conversation of science to the average person is the real magic as it were.
    That’s why I’m a huge proponent of science cafes (and not just cuz I run one). The conversational/casual style brings everyday people into the discussion. Scientists don’t have to invest as much time as writing for a magazine requires. It is a novel way to increase science communication, especially when considering the ability to podcast/videocast the talks.


  4. Karen Ventii Says:

    Dear DrugMonkey,
    Thanks for picking up the story about our magazine and thanks for the wealth of information.
    Karen Ventii


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