Is blogging good for you? I mean, can writing a blog help career advancement or help you to change careers? The best answer to both questions may be “it’s possible.” Science blogs are becoming more numerous, and the impact of blogging on careers is controversial. A recent conference on how the Web is changing science (ScienceOnline2011) included discussions of the career impact of blogging.
Maybe this will influence your decision to jump into the “Blogosphere.” Do you know how many people have read your publications? How many articles have cited your work? What impact does your research have (beyond the journals’ impact factors)? How much feedback have you had from readers? Certainly all this comes into play when choosing a journal to publish in. Open-access journals certainly help to spread the word, but how can you push readers to the journals’ internet sites?
I suggest that blogs are one way. Visit these two blog sites to see how that can work: http://blogs.plos.org/ and http://blogs.openaccesscentral.com/blogs/bmcblog/. You can also see how blogs are being used for education and networking by a practicing radiologist, in an abstract on PubMed (PMID: 17527112) and by visiting his blogs at http://www.sumerdoc.blogspot.com/ and http://www.indianradiology.com/, where the author posts interesting cases, comments and abstracts of recent publications.
Blogs allow visitors to leave comments, ask questions or even message each other. It’s their interactivity that sets blogs apart from other websites like bulletin boards or internet forums, which just have parallel conversations or “threads.” But remember, if it’s your blog, you can verify the accuracy and edit content that others post on it. If you use Twitter, your Tweets let you tell friends and colleagues about your blog postings, and your friends can Tweet their friends and followers. New tools like “Blogger,” “Wordpress,” “MovableType,” or “Typepad” make it easy to design and write blogs and they offer both free and paid internet publishing options.
Blogs are not research tools; they are communication venues that can reach a wide audience. I doubt anyone would broadcast unpublished research on their blog, but you might want to write about your published research papers. Blogs spread the word about your research results to a larger and more diverse audience than those who just read the journal it was published in. Blogs may benefit scholarship (and, hence, careers) through networking that can lead to research and publication collaborations. In your grant applications, your blog may allow you to document “broad impact” in addition to “scientific merit.” Take a look at this “case study” http://scienceofblogging.com/why-scientists-should-blog-a-case-study/.
If you are interested in looking further at what’s out there in the “blogosphere,” there are lots of blog search engines, including my favorite, BlogScope, which goes beyond a simple keyword search. Go ahead, get your feet wet.
Cheers for now,
Clement Weinberger, PhD
The Stylus Medical Communications