To many, blog posts are the face of science

Continuing the discussion of the relative contributions of blogs and the peer-reviewed literature to scientific understanding, I’m highlighting another reaction to the two Nature Geoscience Commentaries presenting different perspectives.

In the comment thread at Real Climate blog, Simon Donner of the University of British Columbia writes:

“Blogs have created a forum for many people to informally discuss science. They are also a great forum for scientists to provide context to their own work and to the work of others in their field.

And some of the time, that may take the form of criticism. That’s ok. But we do have to be careful in blurring the line too much between peer-reviewed publications and blogs. The first problem is the obvious one. Blog posts are unfiltered, un-reviewed, and often written off the cuff, while journal articles are screened, reviewed, and (should be) meticulously researched. It is far easier to write a criticism of a paper on one’s blog than to write a response and submit it to the journal. The issue isn’t just that no reviewers check the work… the blog author is unlikely to do even close to the amount of research and analysis nor give the wording nearly the same level of consideration as is expected in a paper submitted to a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal.

The other problem is that blog posts are readily accessible to anyone at anytime, both in language, and in the unlicensed nature of the internet. To a huge swath of the public, blog posts are the face of science. Like it or not, bloggers with scientific credentials are like self-appointed ambassadors for science. If we are going to write about our science, we should do it with thought, and we should do it well. That is a standard that myself and many other science bloggers often struggle to meet.”


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