White Coat Underground

Science Communication 2.0

I can’t say enough about ScienceOnline09, and about how useful meetings like this can be. When you toss a bunch of smart people from various disciplines together, add a little ethanol, and shake vigorously, you get some interesting results.

I had the chance to chat a bit with Dave Munger (hi Dave, hi Greta—great to meet you guys!) who put together researchblogging.org, an aggregator of blog posts on peer-reviewed research. It’s a great tool. Let’s say you want to blog about a cool journal article. You can shoot over to researchblogging.org, generate a citation, and place a badge on your blog post. Your post will then be aggregated with others who have done the same. This gives your work more exposure. It also serves the purpose of creating a corner of the blogosphere devoted to a worthy academic endeavor.

There’s one little catch. We bloggers are an informal bunch, and are not limited by the constraints of academic writing. We can be a bit informal. As one of my readers like to say, “the internet is a rough place—wear a helmet.” And, while you’d think academics were used to horrid internecine flame-wars, apparently the internet is a little too harsh for some.

Communicating about the latest research isn’t always easy. Sure, we have conferences in our various disciplines, discuss things at grand rounds, and have yearly meetings, but in general, we end up discussing things in our own fields almost exclusively, and we lack a certain timeliness.

Blogging is an opportunity to discuss the latest research widely, informally, and immediately. But more often than not, the authors of the articles are left out.

Here’s my plan: first, take advantage of reasearchblogging.org both to post items, and to read them. Second, when you do post an item, if you can, fire an email off to the PI to let them know folks are discussing their work. Let’s see what happens.

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research(this is the cool badge you can display on your posts!)


  1. #1 anon
    January 19, 2009

    A little too harsh or a little too wrong? That dirty snowball was hardly an advertisment for the wonders of the blogosphere in scientific critique.

  2. #2 PalMD
    January 19, 2009

    Actually, the critique was rather good—the wrapping wasn’t to everyone’s liking. Either way, it is discussion.

  3. #3 Radioactive afikomen
    January 20, 2009

    What the…

    Why didn’t you say anything about resurrecting the White Coat Underground! I had no idea you’d restarted it here!

    Well, regardless, I look forward to reading more from you here and over at Denialism.

  4. #4 Dave Munger
    January 20, 2009

    Hi Pal,

    It was great to meet/talk with you too.

    I agree that it’s a good idea to email the PI whenever you blog about their research — I’m just too lazy to do it most of the time. As you suggested to me, it would be neat if we could automate that function at ResearchBlogging.org.

    We could allow bloggers to type in the PI’s email and then automatically email them when the post was collected. (The email can’t be harvested automatically because it’s not in the database that collects the citations).

  5. #5 anon
    January 20, 2009

    Actually, the critique was rather bad (excepting Bora). The science got stomped by the political juggernaut. The authors defended their science with science and were swept away in the current of open access and US gender politics. They didn’t stand a chance.

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