evolgen

Where are the faculty bloggers?

I have an intuition, backed up by absolutely no evidence, that my particular area of interest (evolutionary genetics) has more faculty blogging about stuff related to their research than other fields. This is most likely the result of my interest in those blogs, and, hence, my increased awareness of them compared to blogs of faculty in other research areas. From a quick scan of my blogroll and the feeds I subscribe to, here’s a list of research faculty who blog about evolutionary genetics:

That’s not a lot of blogs, but it’s also not a huge field. How does that compare with faculty who blog in your research area?

Note: I’ve restricted the list to faculty who can be considered PIs of an active research lab. You can argue all you like about whether such a list should be restricted to this group, but that’s the group I’m interested in. I’m also not looking at totally anonymous bloggers because, well, we don’t know who they are. Also, I’m most interested in faculty blogging about stuff related to their research.

Comments

  1. #1 Neil
    February 24, 2008

    I have a similar, evidence-free intuition that regardless of field, faculty are far less likely to blog than postdocs, grad students or people who have left academia.

    This may mean that faculty are too busy having glittering research careers to care about the internet, and/or that they’re slightly older and hence completely ignorant of the web revolution.

  2. #3 Deepak
    February 24, 2008

    It’s interesting that people in industry are likely to blog more than faculty. One could argue that the risks are higher outside academia, so it’s even more surprising. Personally, I think it’s just a cultural reason. Either they are out of touch or don’t want to rock the boat.

    As for faculty bloggers, Peter Murray-Rust and Jean-Claude Bradley come to find from the chemistry space

  3. #4 Zeno
    February 24, 2008

    Blogging expands to fill the time available. So, I think, does research. A research professional is better off spending the time on his or her investigations, not at the keyboard writing new posts. Blogging may be fun, but in what sense is it not a distraction from an experimenter’s tasks? It can be considered an extension of one’s professional mission as a pedagogue, if blogging is used to spread knowledge to the general public, but research results tend to appeal to a rather narrow and specialized population.

    Of course, I’m a classroom teacher and not a researcher, so my opinion is based more on observation than personal experience. I’ll be interested to see what professors at research institutions have to say.

  4. #5 Jonathan Eisen
    February 24, 2008

    I could not disagree more with Zeno. I have found that blogging is one of the best ways to communicate my research. I get more people finding out about what my lab does and what I am interested in from my blog than from papers, or from presentations at conferences. In addition, research results can be communicated to the public and in my opinion should be. I think it is an obligation of researchers to communicate to non insiders and a blog is a good way to do that.

  5. #6 Jonathan Badger
    February 24, 2008

    Note: I’ve restricted the list to faculty who can be considered PIs of an active research lab

    Larry hasn’t been a PI for quite some time — his lab shut down in the 1990s, if that matters

  6. #7 kevin z
    February 25, 2008

    A certain deep sea biologist, though not a faculty (and not me) has gotten excellent marks on NSF grants for outreach and broader impact because of his blog…

    Emmett Duffy and Ove Hoegh-Goldberg are two in my field.
    Also, Physioprof, Abel Pharmboy, ScienceWoman, Mark Stoeckle, Malte Ebach & David Williams, PZ Myers (doesn’t blog on his research though), and David Calquhoun are some I have in my Google Reader.

  7. #8 Chad Orzel
    February 25, 2008
  8. #9 John Hawks
    February 25, 2008

    A certain deep sea biologist, though not a faculty (and not me) has gotten excellent marks on NSF grants for outreach and broader impact because of his blog…

    I sort of expected this might be true, but have found in my grant applications that my blog is not given any credit at all for education/outreach. One grant that explicitly included education/outreach as part of its activities had reviews that expressed my blog as “an already-existing resource, not a new activity needing funding.”

    The message I got is that if you do something on your own time without demanding to be paid, the NSF would just as soon you continue on doing so.

    Naturally, this is irrelevant to why I blog, but I want to warn people — if you think you are going to get some kind of credit for outreach, you need to negotiate that in advance with your university/administrative unit.

  9. #10 Anonymous
    February 25, 2008

    Well, I am faculty and I blog anonymously. There are quite a number who do so.