When you first start in this business you tend to see yourself as an independent operator. You are responsible for publishing the words and images that are your product. To do this, you have to oversee a lab group of talented and creative scientific minds. This requires that you win the grant funding that keeps the people paid, keeps the lab stocked and the lights on.
We talk a fair bit on these blogs pages about the one to one struggle the independent laboratory head has with study sections, professional Program Staff at funding institutes, the peers and professionals involved with academic publishing and the peers involved with career evaluation and promotion.
As the career matures, some of us* ponder whether the things that we wish to accomplish in science require something a little greater than the occasional collaboration. Is there any value to paying out the considerable organizational effort to draw a limited number of independent laboratories into a single project?
In the NIH arena this generally means the Center or Program Project mechanisms of funding.

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Blog collective

July 12, 2010

I put up what is possibly the trolliest title I’ve ever come up with over on Sb DrugMonkey today. I did want to talk about Big Mechanism grants and the mind space the scientist has to be in to consider them. As a Project Director anyway. (And no, I’m not currently considering being a PD or similar insanity, thank you.)

In the current upheaval of ScienceBlogs, however, I’m seeing a trend by which if people are thinking “blog collective” they are thinking inward toward their respective -ology domains.

The re-launch of geoblog Highly Allochthonous is a case in point. Notice the domain name “all-geo.org”? Gee, I wonder who they are intending to collectivize? Also see the genomesunzipped collective started by Daniel MacArthur who may or may not be closing his Sb shop (hasn’t said, so far as I know).

In this they follow the Deep Sea News folks who left ScienceBlogs.com, well, an age ago in internet time.

juniorprof jumped the gun over at my Sb post and suggested I should form a blog collective.

Well, well. I think a Drugmonkey-led collective would be pretty cool. NIH biz and neuroscience perhaps? A key point would be recruiting writedit (IMHO).

Yeah. I have no interest in doing any heavy lifting. No Program Director of Bloggy Collectives for me. I have to say though, from where I’m pondering now, the idea of a collective focused on my blog interests holds little appeal. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to haunt these kinds of blogs preferentially. Grant game, careerism, academia. And I do wish there were a few more substance abuse blogs focused on the research side. But those are not the only people I want to associate with in a blog collective. I love the breadth of ScienceBlogs. I was a reader long before I was a contributor. The approach (in addition to specific blogs) was the hook for me as a reader.

So I’d want a little bit of that liberal arts tradition in any collective that I could envision as being attractive.