As I emerge from my fever, I ponder the latest “Ask a ScienceBlogger” question:
There are many, many academic bloggers out there feverishly blogging about their areas of interest. Still, there are many, many more academics who don’t. So, why do you blog and how does blogging help with your research?
I started this blog as a way to remind my students (and myself) how my subject, the ethical conduct of science, is relevant to lots of things happening in the world right now. Some of those things involve scientists caught misbehaving, or scientific communities trying to figure out what sorts of behavior are productive or destructive. Some of the connections are less obvious, spilling over to issues around education, politics, or the marketplace.
Once it really got going, this blog turned into a conversation involving a lot of actual scientists at various career stages. That means my intrepid readers keep pointing me toward new stories, and that they push me to think harder about how ethical ideals play out given the reality of circumstances on the ground.
Among the ways writing this blog helps with my academic research:
- Keeps me in the habit of writing regularly about the issues I research.
- Keeps me in the habit of writing carefully about the issues I research; since I’m writing for an audience, I have to be able to explain myself clearly rather than dumping a jumble of poorly expressed (poorly formed) ideas.
- Keeps me in the habit of tracking down recent developments (breaking news), as well as what other people are discussing in other corners of blogtopia, rather than letting my world shrink to the papers published in the handful of peer reviewed journals in my area.
- Helps me break my big arguments into smaller, more digestible (blog-post-sized) pieces.
- Helps me keep my view at a particular point in time from becoming prematurely ossified, since follow-up is a normal part of blogging for me.
- Gets me rapid feedback from an audience that knows an awful lot about the lived reality of various scientific communities.
- Gets my ideas out to an audience they would be unlikely to reach if I relied on the peer reviewed literature in philosophy as the sole outlet for my writing.
- Gets me the occasional speaking gig.
- Keeps me excited about my area of research while reinforcing that the work I’m doing could make a real difference in the world of science.
I’m sure there are others. But these nine seem like reasons a-plenty for me to keep going.