Nature Reviews Genetics has published a terrible review of genetics blogging. And it’s not just because they don’t link to yours truly. The author links to Alex and Paul Zed, which means she knows about the ScienceBlogs
empire network. I guess she didn’t poke around long enough to find evolgen or Gene Expression. Maybe she saw them and wasn’t sure if they were genetics blogs; it’s not like the names give them away.
The article sucks for the most part because it’s an exercise in shoddy research. The author attributes Mendel’s Garden to Hsien-Hsien Lei. Hsien hosted the second edition, but the carnival was Paul’s idea (I take full credit for the name, however).
After linking to a few blogs (how bloggy of her), the author writes:
Based on this survey, most genetics blogs tend to discuss general topics sparked off by recent scientific publications or general press coverage. But another potential application of blogging springs to mind. Benefits of such rapid exchanges of information are clear to anyone who has struggled with experiments that don’t work for no apparent reason, or with problematic data analysis.
Based on a “survey” of one blog carnival and four blogs (one of which is the blog of sister journal Nature Genetics, Free Association) the author is ready to make sweeping conclusions about genetics blogging? This makes Nature’s study of science blogs look rigorous by comparison.
We can say all we want about how blogs will provide the lubricant to accelerate scientific research, but I’d rather hear it from someone who knows something about blogging. The problem is that not enough people are reading blogs, not enough people are commenting on blogs, and not enough people are blogging. We need to overcome the threshold of resistance (reach some critical mass) before blogs make an impact on the research process. Right now, most seriously scientific blog entries are reviews of recent literature (the one thing the author gets right). If you try to, say, put in a request for some background literature on a topic, you may get zero replies.
And, yes, I realize that I have not done my part to turn blogging into more than a collection of review articles and links to funny cartoons. I promised to present some original research on evolgen, got started, and then stopped before I presented any data. I’m hoping to put something together over the weekend so that my little project can continue.