The week on Nature Network: Friday 5 September

This weekly Nautilus column highlights some of the online discussion at Nature Network in the preceding week that is of relevance to scientists as authors.

The Nature Network week column is archived here.

Steffi Suhr, Editor of the journal Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics , invites scientists and science writers to submit a manuscript for a planned theme section on the ’Ethics of science journalism’ . Further details can be found here: the aim is for the theme section to bring together all viewpoints of those involved in bringing science to the ‘public’ – writers (freelance and staff), editors, publishers, and – not least – scientists themselves.

One of the stimulating views expressed at last week’s Science Blogging 2008 conference (a collection of photographs is here) was that scientists do a far better job than science journalists (and other professional communicators) at describing science accurately to a wide audience. Brian Clegg begs to disagree, citing some pertinent counter-examples to those provided at the conference, which were from the area of medical “quackery” . What do you think? Although it is far too sweeping to dismiss as a group either scientists themselves or “science communicators”, there is plenty of scope for development of effective communication skills, as well as ensuring accuracy without hype.

Also stimulated by the Science Blogging conference, Martin Fenner summarizes where we are today with science blogging, pointing to several evolving subdisciplines which are being refined in the online discussion to his post:

-conference blogging (also includes event blogging)

-edublogging (education of students or users, careers advice, academic culture)

-metablogging (blogging about blogging, by far the largest discipline)

-research blogging (blogging about scientific experiments)

-investigational blogging (exposing incorrect or misleading science)

– issue (or ‘political’) blogging (for example evolution, climate change, vaccines)

-news blogging (blogging about science news)

-watercooler (or ‘fun’) blogging (small pieces of interesting or funny thoughts/pictures)

-summary (or ‘meta’) blogging (summarizing other blog posts and linking to them)

-diary blogging (blogging as a personal diary of self-expression).

See also David Bradley’s post on improving science blogging, which asks for reactions to his idea of a “plug-in” to “monitor your latest blog post, and on the basis of the names and keywords it sees as you type suggest likely literature references. It would be a straightforward matter to display the titles of all relevant papers and as you blog you could add a star to the main paper about which you’re righting and tick any others that might be worth citing in the post.”

In a discussion about information and reference management online, Frank Norman writes that Karen Blakeman and Phil Bradley run expert internet courses on search tools and resources. He writes: “Karen comes up with some amazing tips at her talks at IOLIM each December. ”“>Try browsing her blog for internet search tips”.

The next talk on “Science 2.0: the future of online tools for scientists” will take place this Sunday, 7 September, in the form of a panel and discussion with Timo Hannay, Cameron Neylon, and Michael Nielsen, hosted by Nature Network Toronto. What does the future hold for the way we do science? Are online repositories such as GenBank and the physics preprint ArXiv, or social tools such as Nature Network, about to change science profoundly? To find out, join Nature Network Toronto for an interactive panel discussion over drinks at the pub (see Jen Dodd’s Nature Network post for more details of the panellists and the venue).

Previous Nature Network columns.


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    David Bradley said:

    I’ve already had some positive feedback on my plugin idea and have also heard from two of the team from Zemanta who reckon their system will enable at least one half of the idea, which will then require mashing up with

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