The week on Nature Network: Friday 12 December

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.

Researchers may be good innovators, and good leaders, but are they good managers? So asks Heather Etchevers in a wide-ranging post about ranking, credit and other similar matters.

Why scientists blog, or should blog (or not) is a topic of perennial interest, not least to scientists who themselves blog. Martin Fenner raised the issue recently, in the form of a set of ten questions to science bloggers. More than 30 of them answered. If you don’t know much if anything about blogging and want to know why you should consider undertaking it, Martin’s summary of the replies is an excellent place to start (you can also read all the individual replies in full via the links collected in Martin’s post).

Are you, or do you know, a brilliant science communicator?, asks Branwen Hide in the UK science policy forum. Nominations are now open for the BA award lectures (closing date 27 February). Each year the BA honours five outstanding young communicators with the opportunity to present a prestigious Award Lecture at the BA Festival of Science. The 2009 Festival of Science is taking place from 5 to 10 September 2009, hosted by the University of Surrey, UK – more details are available at the BA website or via email.

Steffi Suhr draws attention to a theme section on the ethics of science journalism for the journal she edits: Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics (ESEP). The theme section is intended to bring together viewpoints from all parties involved in bringing science to the ‘public’ – writers, editors, publishers, and – not least – scientists themselves. The first two of these open access articles are now published: Michael Gross asks whether science reporting is turning into fast food; and I (Maxine Clarke) discuss the ethics of science communication on the web (links to these open access articles are at Steffi’s post). These articles and the issues they raise are being discussed at Nature Network, so please do contribute your own views.

Bob O’Hara opines on the form of peer-review to be adopted by a new journal called Ideas in Ecology and Evolution: “you pay for refereeing, with no guarantee that the manuscript will be published. If you fail, it’s $400 down the drain. Make sure you get some nice referees! I can see a lot of people looking at this and deciding to submit to another journal, where they don’t have to pay for the privilege of submitting.” This is not the only experimental approach proposed by the journal, as discussed by Bob and by the commenters to his post.

Trends in virtual worlds are highlighted by Maria Hodges, who discusses in the Second Life forum two reports published last month (links in Maria’s post) on the educational uses of such worlds. Apparently there are more than 80 of these platforms that exist, and Maria asks whether Second Life will retain its current dominance in the light of such consumer choice.

Previous Nature Network columns.


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