The week on Nature Network: Friday 3 July

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 and communicators. Readers are welcome to join any of these discussions by visiting the links provided. The Nature Network week column is archived here.

Ruth Wilson is going to Istanbul later this month to give a talk at the Equal Opportunities Conference. She’ll speak about the steps she and her colleagues at the UK Resource Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology have taken to help women scientists connect online. To gather information for her talk, she asks Nature Network users for their views and experience of whether blogging, twittering, and other social media help women’s careers in science, engineering, technology. Is this male-dominated area any less so in online environments? Are there online facilities or developments that would help women wanting to start/develop their careers? Ruth welcomes your views at the Women in Science forum (views from men are as welcome as those from women).

Do we need a scientific literature? The answer might seem obvious, but Bob O’Hara gets to the basics of “why we consider peer-reviewed research so important”. It’s a very well-argued post, covering access to the literature itself and to what it says once you have access to it. Unusually for a blog post, a diverse range of commenters broadly agree with it, in a discussion of a range of “accessibility” issues. Please join in.

Cath Ennis gets to grips with the writing style itself. “It began with the phrase “The human genome is a motley harlequin”, and became even more eccentric as it progressed. It was wonderful stuff. I loved it. But I knew I couldn’t use it. A little part of me died as I took out my red pen and rewrote his words in a more conventional academic style.” Read on at Cath’s blog post ‘Resistance is futile’, which refers to Jennifer Rohn’s stimulating post about “the untold narrative of the precise dryness of scientific papers”.

The writing process will be further dissected at Second Life on Tuesday (7 July), where visitors can join Tom Levenson, professor of science writing at MIT, who will be talking about his new book, Newton and the Counterfeiters. Professor Levenson will be taking questions from the audience on the book, his career as a writer, or anything else. See Joanna Scott’s blog for more details of the event itself and of how to set up an account on Second Life.

Dara Sosulski picks up a bit of pseudoscientific news education, in a week when the sixth World Conference of Science Journalists has been putting science news reporting in the spotlight. There’s a discussion in the Nature Opinion forum about Nature’ s special issue to accompany the conference – a collection of articles ranging from the evolution of the science journalist from cheerleader to watchdog, to how blogging by audiences at scientific conferences is challenging traditional newspaper reporting. Another aspect of science journalism – scaremongering – was at the heart of the most recent Boston “Skeptics in the pub” meeting, explosively described by Robert Pinsonneault.

Further science-related blog reading and online discussion can be enjoyed at:

Planet Nature’s science blogs index and tracker

Nature Publishing Group news at Nature Network


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