Making Scientific Blogging "Count"

  1. 1.  Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061

We are, as a culture, obsessed with counting things. From the number of "likes" and "followers" we have to the number of "retweets" and "shares" we get. It's how we measure our popularity and in some cases our success. Scientists are no different, we count the number of publications we have and the number of citations we receive. Being scientists, we have even come up with a formula so that we can count these two things more effectively (Hirsch 2005). Some have argued that this "counting" can be problematic in certain situations (Lawrence 2007). Indeed many things we count don't matter and many things we don't count do matter. So how do we make what matters "count?"

First, we should define what we mean when we say something "counts". We mean that something, whatever it is, is beneficial to the career advancement of the individual pursuing it.

So what is something in science that doesn't "count" but should and how can we help? Scientific blogging. Scientific blogging is performed by thousands of scientists in various places from personal homepages to organized forums. Many blogs have thousands of followers and are important in public discussions, to the point of being referred to in major scientific journals and news outlets. But do they count to the individual that wrote them? Do scientists list them on their CVs for promotion and tenure or when applying for grants? For the most part, the answer is: no.

How can we change this?

We can make blogs into publications. Many are already of equal quality to typical scientific publications and would make more of an impact than a standard publication. Of course, some blogs will need formalizing and tweaking (i.e. using appropriate references with DOIs as opposed to hyperlinks) to become a paper but most are not far off. Previously, this would have been very difficult with the cost of publications (thousands of dollars), the slow process of peer review, and the inability for anyone to read it. But not anymore! Now with The Winnower you can make your blogs count by making them into scientific publications.

Go ahead and try it -we just did!

References

Hirsch, J. E. 2005. "An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output."\n Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America no. 102 (46):16569-16572. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0507655102.

Lawrence, P. A. 2007. "The mismeasurement of science." Curr Biol no. 17 (15):R583-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.06.014.

Showing 3 Reviews

  • Gary mcdowell
    Gary McDowell
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    It would be interesting to consider this in the context of the recent discussions about citations and Twitter.  Hall's recent paper on "The K index" (K for 'Kardashian'), which measures the discrepancy between a scientist’s Twitter account and publication record by comparing followers on Twitter with publication citation numbers, in other words seeing if a scientist's social media presence is "inflated" compared to their output (the analogy with Kardashian being clear).  The methods for using Twitter metrics were further called into question recently by the Science News articles, "The top 50 science stars of Twitter" and, following much criticism, the Science Insider article, "Twitter's science stars, the sequel".

    A scientist's output should be so much more than the measure of papers in high-impact factor journals and even their citations as many scientists now contribute to the field in diverse ways through various forms of communication.  Many blog posts are indeed widely referenced and cited and I think there is a good argument to be made for blogposts with original ideas to be published.  Blogposts that describe a paper could be tweaked to make a "perspective" or "opinion" on an article and indeed some journals already encourage these kinds of submissions (although less often from junior researchers perhaps).  Scientists also blog about outreach events too and these should also be indexed, especially when methodologies and lessons learned are included.

    References:
    Hall, N. 2014. "The Kardashian index: a measure of discrepant social media profile for scientists." Genome Biology no. 15 (7):424. doi: 
    10.1186/s13059-014-0424-0
    You, J. 2014. "The top 50 science stars of Twitter." Science News.
    Travis, J. 2014. "Twitter's science stars, the sequel." Science Insider.

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    mono joli
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    There are the number of people are discussing this topic and this is strange that what they are talking about because everyone is just typing with close eye without any relevancy.

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    Alison Daewon
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    I have been fortunate to be helped by extraordinary patrons that idea Next Scientist was a decent place to share their thoughts. On account of them, we could cover subjects where I am not a specialist, similar to scholarly writing, elective professions or how to begin a Ph.D. in another field.  ordercollegepapers.com

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