By Amy Dunkle | Rhode Island NSF EPSCoR
Engaging with a broad Internet audience about your research poses many scary thoughts, which in no particular order, can range from what if someone criticizes me to what if I make a mistake and any number of paralyzing scenarios in between.
But, set aside the fears and think of the greater good. If people are going to support and advocate on behalf of science, they need to understand what researchers are working on and why this work is important.
At the same time, writing about your science helps you! The practice improves writing skills, gives back to the research community, promotes your work, and expands connections.
Best of all, once you decide to launch yourself online, you don’t have to go it alone. There is plenty of help. And, here to get you started is the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting with an overflowing list of resources (see below).
The Metcalf Institute, part of the University of Rhode Island (URI) Office of Marine Programs, is based at the world-renowned URI Graduate School of Oceanography. The organization’s mission is to expand accurate environmental news coverage through innovative training and resources for journalists, researchers, and other science communicators to build a deeper public understanding of science and the environment.
With support from Rhode Island NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), the Institute regularly puts on science communication training events throughout the Ocean State to help researchers improve their skills and confidence in communicating research to journalists and the public.
Resources & references
Brown, Paige. “Why Female Hurricanes Made Getting the Story Right, Hard.” 25 June 2014. (About the process of covering controversial scientific research)
Center for Public Engagement with Science & Technology. “Communicating Science: Tools for Scientists and Engineers.” American Association for the Advancement of Science. N.d.
Hemingway (a handy app that analyzes your writing for clarity, brevity, jargon, and grammar)
Janiszewski, Peter, PhD. “8 Tips on Starting a Science Blog.” Science of Blogging. 6 Dec. 2010.
Neeley, Liz. “Making peace with self-promotion.” 2014
Raper, Vivienne. “Science Blogging and Tenure.” Science Careers – Science Magazine. 28 Jan. 2011.
Sociological Imagination. 38 Reasons You Should Blog about Your Research.
The Wellcome Trust offers a variety of great science writing tips here.
The Imperial College London has a workshop about science blogging as part of their Graduate School’s Transferable Skills Training Program. This page includes some of the workshop presentations covering why grad students should blog, along with opportunities and issues in science blogging.
More graduate student insights on blogging:
For more insights on the writing process, follow these hashtags on twitter:
Science YouTube channels/video websites
It’s Okay to be Smart (PBS Digital Studios)
The Science Studio http://thesciencestudio.org/
Journal of Visualized Experiments, an online scientific video journal
Online science communication: General information
Flowchart created by Miriam Goldstein about how to communicate science via the Internet. Narrows down what social media to use depending on your goal. She also includes more links to resources about this topic.
Article by Brian Kateman talking about the up rise of social media and the downfall of scientific literacy. He talks about the disconnect between the two and why it is occurring and how to bring the two together.
Somerville, Richard and Susan Joy Hassol. 2011. Communicating the science of climate change. Physics Today. October 2011, p.48
Darling, ES, Shiffman, D, Cote, IM, Drew, JA. 2014. The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication. (Open PeerJ Preprint)
Infographic based on this paper: http://www.katiephd.com/twitter-and-science-publications/
Bik, Holly and Miriam Goldstein. 2013. An introduction to social media for scientists. PLOS Biology
Giovanna Guerrero-Medina et al. 2013. Supporting diversity in science through social networking. PLOS Biology
Science blogs & blog networks
SciAm Blogs (An entire network of blogs listed here)
Nat Geo Phenomena (“A Science Salon”)
(Image credit: ClimateShiftProject.org)