Research Blogging seeks two new content editors

Administration 92 Comments
By Dave Munger

One of our content editors, Dr. Skyskull, is stepping down this month after 18 months of service. He’s done such a fantastic job that we’ve decided to split his Editor-at-Large position into two jobs: Physical Sciences, covering Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science / Engineering, Geosciences and Mathematics, and Social Sciences, covering Anthropology, Philosophy, Social Sciences, and Research / Scholarship.

Our volunteer content editors select 3 to 5 notable posts each week from their specialty area. These posts are highlighted on the Research Blogging front page, the News blog, and our Twitter feeds, and form the basis for my weekly Research Blogging column on Seed. Our past and present editors are listed on the Research Blogging About Page.


  • An active blogger, registered on Research Blogging
  • Expertise in field of specialty. We don’t require that our editors have PhDs, but the winning candidate will have demonstrated expertise via her or his blogging or other publication record.
  • Enthusiasm for science blogging
  • Excellent, succinct writing skills
  • The ideal candidate will also have a presence on social networking sites like Twitter, FriendFeed, and FaceBook

If you’re interested in the job, please email a brief (300 words or less) statement of why you think you meet our qualifications. Specify which position you’re applying for, provide a link to your blog, and link to 2 or 3 posts that you feel are especially good. Link your social media feeds and other relevant sites, if any. You may attach or link to a curriculum vitae.

We’ll consider all applications made by December 14 at 4 p.m. US Eastern Time.

The new position will start in January 2011, and has a one-year, renewable term.

Proposed revision for Research Blogging topic tags

Administration 111 Comments
By Dave Munger

Based on your comments on this post, as well as responses on Twitter and input from the Research Blogging editors, here’s a proposed revised set of topic tags. When bloggers register for the site, they may pick one major tag (in bold) and are urged to select just one secondary tag (in regular type). These are the default tags selected when bloggers create citations, but bloggers are free to override these defaults and select as many tags as they like for individual posts.

Here are the major changes:

  • Secondary Astronomy tags revised to match the arXiv
  • A new major tag, Ecology / Conservation, with several secondary tags
  • The major tag, Clinical Research, has been renamed to Medicine, and some secondary tags from Health have been moved to this tag
  • Computer Science and Engineering were merged into a single major tag
  • Several new secondary tags were added to the Psychology tag

Of course, other changes have been made as well. Below is the full proposed list of recommended tags. Please let us know if you have any last-minute suggestions before they are implemented.

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Rethinking the topic tags on Research Blogging

Administration 50 Comments
By Dave Munger

The category tags (”Topics”) on Research Blogging were never intended to be permanent. To be useful, they should reflect the actual usage of the site. So, I’m seeking input of Research Blogging users to improve the Topics we use.

First, let’s take a look at how the tags are used:

The good news is, there are some posts in every topic. However, “biology” turns out to be a very popular tag, affecting over 5,000 posts! There are almost three times as many “biology” tags than any other.

It would be nice if we could subdivide that topic so that not so many posts are included under a single umbrella. I took a closer look at the posts in biology and found that the most popular subcategory is “Ecology,” with over 1,000 uses. There are also lots of posts on related fields such as “Conservation.”

So I’d really like to start a new topic, “Conservation / Ecology.” But what subcategories should we use?

The current subcategories for Biology are Agriculture, Anatomy, Behavioral Biology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Biomedical Engineering, Biophysics, Biotechnology, Botany, Cancer, Cell Biology, Chemical Biology, Computational Biology, Developmental Biology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Marine Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Structural Biology, Systems Biology, and Zoology. Other than Ecology and Conservation, are there any subcategories that should be moved over to the Conservation / Ecology topic? What about subcategories in Geosciences or other major topics? Should we add new subcategories?

It would be great if we could further subdivide the Biology topic, but beyond creating a new topic for Conservation / Ecology, I’m a little stumped. Any suggestions?

On the other end of the scale, are there any less-utilized topics that could be combined? I’m thinking Mathematics could merge with Computer Science, or Astronomy with Physics. Any preferences here?

Any other suggestions? Any subcategories you’d like to see added? Let me know. I’d like to have a new classification system ready by next week. For reference, below is the complete system of recommended tags in our system now (users can also type in their own subcategories).
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The Evolving Science Blogosphere, and a Reminder

Administration 64 Comments
By Jason Goldman

The universe is expanding, and so is the science blogosphere.

Following the announcement last week of, there are two new science blogging networks that have launched in recent days.

On Tuesday, The Guardian, a legacy media institution, launched a small but impressive science blogging network, that will reside alongside the main science blog. Check out Alok Jha’s introductory post, and then check out their four new bloggers. They are: are Martin Robbins, Jon Butterworth, Evan Harris and GrrlScientist.

In addition, on The Guardian’s main science blog, there will be a science blogging festival throughout September. The festival started Wednesday, with a post from Mo Costandi of the Neurophilosophy blog, on psychedelic drugs. Follow them on twitter: @guardiansciblog.

Also on Wednesday, PLoS launched a new blog network as well! In addition to the in-house blogs that they have (such as the everyONE blog), they have a series of other blogs – most of which should look familiar. They have a post up describing the philosophy and organization of their network, and their community manager Brian Mossop has a post up detailing the origins of the network with some good background on PLoS, their intentions to create a “niche network,” and links to all the new blogs. Follow them on twitter: @plosblogs.
Here are the blogs in no particular order:
Speakeasy Science: Deborah Blum

The Language of Bad Physics: Sarah Kavassalis

Body Politic: Melinda Wenner Moyer

Wonderland: Emily Anthes

Take As Directed: David Kroll

Neuroanthropology: Daniel Lende and Greg Downey

Obesity Panacea: Peter Janiszewski and Travis Saunders

Gobbledygook: Martin Fenner

GenomeBoy: Misha Angrist

NeuroTribes: Steve Silberman

The Gleaming Retort: John Rennie

Finally, an important reminder for those who have moved their blogs: make sure you re-register your new blog with Research Blogging! Instructions can be found here.

Slick tips: How to point to your new blog

Administration 12 Comments
By Dave Munger

So, you’ve moved your blog to a new site! Congratulations!

But of course, you’re still interested in aggregating your posts about peer-reviewed research to How do you do it? The answers range from very simple to very complicated, depending on what you do.

Here are some of the possibilities, ranging from simplest to most complex:

  1. Your old blog remains live, and your new blog will start where the old blog left off
  2. Your old blog remains live, but your new blog will include all your old posts too, and you’d really prefer to send visitors to the new blog
  3. Your old blog will be erased–you’re importing everything to the new site
  4. Your old blog will be erased and you will gradually repost all the old material on the new site
  5. You’re doing something even more complicated than that, like guest-blogging on a bunch of places before you find a more permanent home

We’re happy to help with any of these plans, but one thing we always try to avoid is duplicating posts. Sites like PLoS keep track of how often their articles are cited by ResearchBlogging, and our readers like to know that material appearing on our front page is new. If you’re reposting old material on your new blog, you’ll need to make sure it’s only aggregated on ResearchBlogging once. There are a number of ways to do this.

1. Let’s start with the simplest situation: Your old blog remains live, and your new blog will start where the old blog left off. In this case, all you’ll need to do is login to ResearchBlogging, click on your blog name under MY BLOGS in the right column, then click on “edit blog settings”. Scroll down to “Source Sites” and click on “Edit Source.” Then change your blog URL and RSS address to the new address.

2/3. Suppose you want visitors on to be directed to the new blog. In this case, you should login to and click on “Request Additional Blog.” (The name of this blog must be different from your old blog name, so you might want to change your old blog’s name in your settings first!) Register this new blog. Indicate in your blog description that is the new site for your old blog. An administrator will approve this account within 24 hours.

Then you’ll want to disable your old blog’s posts on our site. You can do this manually by using the “manage posts” feature. Or if you have a lot of posts, email the editors in your language and ask them to delete the old blog completely (This page has email addresses for our editors).

Then you’ll want to import your old posts into your new blog. If you have just a few posts, use our “Import posts” feature (Important! There is a small bug in this feature. Make sure you enter the date in mm/dd/yyyy format or the post will be dated incorrectly). If you have a lot of posts, you can use the instructions on this page.

You could also just partially implement this solution, by disabling/importing only your most popular/important posts.

4. If you’re going to gradually repost all your old material to the new site, you could take one of two approaches. You could completely delete the old blog from our site as described in 2/3 above. Or you could keep the old site live and, when you repost your old posts on your new site, simply disable the citations from appearing on our site. This is done in one of two ways. You can do this automatically when you generate a citation by unchecking the “include this citation” box on the Edit Citation page. Or you can change it manually in the code itself by changing the text “bpr3.included=1″ to “bpr3.included=0″

5. If you’re planning a more complicated transition than this, please contact me at and I’ll help you develop a custom solution that works for you!

Guide to following on Social Media

Administration 16 Comments
By Dave Munger

Did you know you can follow on Twitter or Facebook? Or that we maintain a list of over 150 ResearchBloggers who are on Twitter?

In fact, we now offer eight different Twitter resources, with over 2,000 followers. You can use our Twitter and Facebook feeds to get direct links to every blog post collected by our site. Or follow our Editor’s Selection feed to access handpicked posts from our five expert content editors.

Since we only expect our social media presence to grow, we’ve created a guide you can use to navigate our social media tools.

Click here to visit the guide to following on social media.

We’ve also added a new social media sidebar to this blog to help you keep track. If you have any questions about social media and, you can ask here in the comments, or send an @message to davemunger on Twitter and we’ll get back to you right away.

Help improve by flagging posts for content

Administration 8 Comments
By Dave Munger

We’ve begun to notice occasional posts on that don’t really add much beyond what’s already available in a journal article title and abstract.

We pride ourselves on the quality of our content and we believe that Research Blogging readers are looking for more than an abstract and a link to the post — they want to see thoughtful discussion and analysis of the research. There are plenty of other resources online for sharing titles and abstracts; we want to give our readers something more.

We’d like your help identifying these posts so we can take appropriate action. A few key guidelines give a good explanation of what’s expected:

  • The post author should have read and understood the entire work cited.
  • The blog post should report accurately and thoughtfully on the research it presents.
  • The post should contain original work by the post author — while some quoting of others is acceptable, the majority of the post should be the author’s own work.

A good rule of thumb is that the post should provide more information than is available in the abstract and title of the work. If it doesn’t, it’s not material.

If you’re a registered user and see a post that doesn’t meet our guidelines, please login to your account and flag it by clicking on the “flag post” link that appears in the left column. For posts that you believe are too brief/insubstantial, check the “Not accurate / substantive” box and give us a short explanation of why, as in the (fake) example below:

Flags are not visible to other users. Only editors and administrators are able to see them, so you don’t need to worry about causing stigma to a blogger who may have just made an oversight.

Once an editor sees your flag, he or she will take appropriate action, including possibly contacting the blogger to remind them of our guidelines.

If you’re not a registered user, you can email us about a post you believe doesn’t meet our guidelines.

Thanks for your help in maintaining our high quality standards!

Editor’s Selections: Cheating Wasps, Evolving Robots, GM-doh!, and Trashing the Ocean

Administration 18 Comments
By Jarrett Byrnes

smalljarrett2Jarrett Byrnes focuses on posts in ecology, environmental sciences, and evolution. He blogs at I’m a chordata, urochordata!

  • Want to test evolution via natural selection? Why not do it with robots! What could possibly go wrong.

Get the widget

Administration, News 36 Comments
By Dave Munger

For nearly a year, posts have been shared via a widget on, directing over 150,000 visitors to our member blogs’ posts. Now nearly all of our registered users can place a customized version of the widget like this one on their own blogs (Not registered yet? If you blog about peer-reviewed research, sign up here). We’re thrilled to offer this exciting feature that many of our bloggers have asked for.

As a blogger, you can specify which category of posts you’d like to display: Just “Neuroscience” and “Psychology,” everything on our site, or any other combination you can think of. Even if you haven’t had a chance to write something recently, your readers will still find something new every time they visit your blog.

How to set up your widget

  • Login to your account, edit your blog settings, and click “Enable widget” at the top of the page.
  • Scroll down to the bottom, and you’ll see an area labeled “widget settings.” Select the tags you want (make sure you don’t select from the “tags” section for your blog itself). You can pick whichever categories you’d like to show up in your widget on your blog.
  • Copy the code from the “embed HTML” box.
  • Save the changes (you can change these categories at any time and your blog will automatically be updated).
  • Login to your blog and paste the widget settings in your sidebar. Here are some tips for how to do this on Blogger and blogs.
      For most Wordpress blogs, you’ll need to use the “text” widget. Just copy the code from, then login to your blog and click on “widgets” under “appearance.” Click on a text widget to add, click on Edit, and paste your code in. Save the changes. Note: policy does not allow widgets like ours on their free blogs. You can use the widget on the downloadable version from that you host using your own ISP
      Login to and click on “Layout”. (if you’re already logged in and viewing your blog, you’ll need to click on “customize” first) Then click on “Add a Gadget” and click on “HTML/JavaScript”. Paste the code in the box and click on Save.

Frequently asked questions:

1. Can I use the widget on any blog?
We’ve tested the widget on many platforms, including Movable Type, Blogger, and WordPress. However, due to policy prohibiting external advertising, it won’t work on free blogs (we haven’t tested it, but it may work on some paid “professional” packages). If you host your own Wordpress blog on your own ISP (which you download from rather than, it should work fine.

2. What are the benefits of using the widget?
The widget offers a customized stream of posts on the topics you specify, so readers visiting your blog will always find something new. In addition, your posts appear on the widget on other users’ blogs, so your headlines have the potential to be seen by hundreds of thousands of readers.

3. Will there be ads on the widget?
There is a small space for advertising at the bottom of the widget. Right now it’s just a placeholder, but eventually these ads will be customized to the content on your blog, much like Google ads. We hope these ads will ultimately cover most of the administrative costs of We have no plans for additional ads on

4. Can I change the categories that are displayed on my widget?
Yes, you can change the categories at any time on your “Edit blog settings” page. There is no need to re-insert the code on your blog; the new categories will be displayed automatically.

5. Can I specify the language of posts on the widget?
Currently the widget only displays English-language posts. We plan to offer a language setting in the future.

6. Can I place the widget anywhere? Can I share the code with my friends?
Currently the widget is only offered to registered bloggers with (If you blog about peer-reviewed research, you can register here)

If you have any problems with or questions about the widget, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments, or send us an email at

Slick Tips: Efficiently import older posts

Administration, News 19 Comments
By Dave Munger

Do you have a backlog of posts that you’d like to add to the database? You can always use the “Import Post” function, but that requires you to manually enter quite a bit of data. There is an easier way, based on the tip we published last week.

Our system needs to see your post in an RSS (or Atom) feed in order to process it. But most feeds only list 10 or 20 posts — the posts you want to import might have been hundreds of posts back.

The easiest way to expand the number of posts available for our site to see is to change your blog’s settings. In WordPress, you can increase the number of posts in your syndication feed by using the Settings –> Reading –> Syndication Feeds Show the Most Recent ____ Posts feature. But other blogging systems don’t offer this option, so you may need to use a different method, which is explained below.

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