ResearchBlogging.org now supports Italian-language posts

News 1 Comment
By Dave Munger

We’re pleased to announce that ResearchBlogging.org now includes posts about peer-reviewed research in Italian. Italian is the seventh language supported by the site, following Polish, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and English.

The site was designed with the flexibility to offer blog posts in any language, but the key to supporting a new language lies not in the software, but the humans behind it. Since most of the people blogging about peer-reviewed research are busy scientists themselves, it can be a challenge to locate qualified experts willing to help evaluate participating blogs to ensure that our standards are maintained, no matter the language of the blog post.

Fortunately, Italian-language bloggers Peppe Liberti, Amedeo Balbi, and Moreno Colaiacovo have volunteered their valuable time and expertise and will serve as the first Italian-language editors of the site. These bloggers will lead the way in sharing their thoughts on peer-reviewed research, written in Italian.

Visitors to ResearchBlogging.org can specify which language or languages they prefer to read, and the site remembers their preferences from visit to visit (to select multiple languages, use Control-Click or Command-Click). There are also RSS feeds available in each language, and Twitter users can follow posts in each language as well (Italian, Polish, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, English).

Here are the first Italian-language blogs to register for the site.

We encourage new bloggers to register. If you blog about peer reviewed research in Italian (or English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Polish or German), visit our registration page to sign up. If you know a blogger in one of those languages, let them know about our site and encourage them to join.

ResearchBlogging.org helps people locate and share academic blog posts about peer-reviewed research, instead of just news reports and press releases. Bloggers use the ResearchBlogging.org icon to identify their thoughtful posts about serious research, and those posts are collected in a database and displayed on a central site for easy reference.

Over 1,500 registered blogs publish dozens of posts about peer-reviewed research each day. That’s more content than the science section of any mainstream newspaper, and the posts collected are typically much longer and more detailed than a newspaper article. Even if you don’t have a blog, you can still use the site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Introducing Research Blogging’s new content editors!

News 23 Comments
By Dave Munger

I’m proud to announce that Research Blogging has signed on two new content editors to replace Editor-at-Large Dr. Skyskull, who’s stepping down next week after a year and a half of exceptional service.

Our new Social Sciences Editor, Krystal D’Costa, is the force behind the fantastic blog Anthropology in Practice, which draws on everyday events to shed light on anthropology theory and research. She is an anthropologist working in New York on immigration, technology, and communication. She’ll be posting her selections from Anthropology, Philosophy, Social Sciences, and Research / Scholarship every Thursday beginning January 3. She can be found on Twitter @anthinpractice.

Our new Physical Sciences Editor, Sarah Kendrew, is an astronomer doing postdoctoral research in Germany. Her blog, One Small Step, covers recent developments in astronomy, including her own work on projects such as Zooniverse. She’ll be posting her selections from Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science / Engineering, Geosciences, and Mathematics, every Monday beginning January 2. She can be found on Twitter @sarahkendrew.

Please join me in welcoming these talented scientists to our team!

Interview with Janet Stemwedel

News, Opinion 9 Comments
By Dave Munger

Last week’s column on Seed attracted a lot of attention — but for space reasons I had to leave a lot out. I conducted several extended interviews, so I thought I’d post their transcripts here.

Janet Stemwedel is Associate Professor of Philosophy at San Jose State University, who blogs about issues of ethics in science, science careers, and science education at Adventures in Ethics and Science.

Dave Munger: What are the implications of the apparent gender disparity in science blogging? If you see it as a problem, do you have any examples of the negative effects?

Janet Stemwedel: It strikes me that there are implications on the producer side (for the people blogging, whether in networks or as independent agents in the scientific quarter of blogtopia) and on the consumer side (for readers).

For the woman who’s blogging science, being so outnumbered by male bloggers can mean that you spend a lot more time considering whether you want to blog about a particular issue that your male brethren are likely to ignore (or plow into without necessarily thinking through the complexities that you’ve thought to death, because they’re part of your daily experience). Or whether you can *not* blog about those issues this time (even though you have other things you’d rather be blogging), because if a woman in the science blogosphere doesn’t blog them, they might not get blogged at all. I suspect that women also have to spend more time defending their experience of their own lives when they share it on-blog than men do — because this weird thing happens when male commenters and other bloggers who are male will respond to your posts with, “It couldn’t possibly have been that way!” or “Well, I’ve never noticed anything like that where I am, so it can’t have happened.”

For readers, one of the implications is simply that there aren’t as many voices and views represented in what there is to read as there might be. Given the size of the blogosphere as a whole, that might not seem like a serious problem, but for the woman toiling away in a male dominated scientific field without a female support network in her three-dimensional world, finding the blogs of women in her field (or a field that sounds a lot like hers), going through the same struggles — that makes a difference. For the mom looking for information about the health impact of vaccinations, who doesn’t want snake oil but doesn’t want to be made to feel like an idiot, finding the blogs of scientists and doctors and other rational folks who are also moms makes a difference. The flash of recognition, that the people blogging about stuff that may be beyond your area of expertise are still like you in ways that make you feel able to related and invited to read more — that matters.

Munger: Ideally, should women be represented by equal numbers of bloggers as men? Or should gender balance match the actual gender balance in the fields they cover? Or would it be adequate merely to have improved numbers?

Stemwedel: I think my vision of an ideal situation would be for everyone who has something to say on a blog to find a place in blogtopia — including finding his or her natural audience and bloggy peer group. Not everyone wants to blog, and I’d hate to have people feel like they have to, whether to improve gender balance, or coverage of a particular subject or discipline, or anything else.

Also, since most of us have a little something called a life offline, it’s not obvious that you could easily recruit the “missing” female blogging representatives even for a field with equal gender representation in the 3-dimensional world.

Still, I think it would be good for blogging networks especially to try harder and find more women who are blogging (because they are out there, and many of them are fabulous). Indeed, I suspect the women who are blogging in fields where women are extremely underrepresented may be writing some of the most interesting stuff — so being content with a bloggy representative of the majority practitioner of that field is opting out of lots of good stories that a blog network’s readers might want to read.

Munger: Do you think women face unique difficulties in science blogging? If so, what are they?

Stemwedel: We seem to have to spend a lot of time reminding our readers (including our lay readers) that we actually know what the heck we’re talking about — including when we’re blogging very basic knowledge from our field. I don’t know if this is a unique problem for women science bloggers, but the activation energy for readers (and other bloggers) to assume that we’re confused, mistaken, or just plain dumb is a lot lower.

Also, I reckon we get a lot more sexualized (and threatening) comments and private emails from blog readers.

Munger: Do women blog differently from men? Is this a feature or a bug?

Stemwedel: I don’t think they necessarily do, but rather are perceived as doing so.

For about a year I was blogging pseudonymously (as Dr. Free-Ride), and I was routinely gendered as male by my readers. I don’t think my blogging voice, or the subject matter I took on, was markedly different then, but people seemed to take me more seriously. But then, when I started blogging under my own name (with my academic rank and institutional affiliation in the open, available for anyone to verify), it seemed as if some readers were more comfortable dismissing my blog as not serious, not scientific enough (even though I was blogging more straight science than I had before). It’s funny how a feminine name and a profile picture can make that big of a difference.

So, it’s really not the blogging style that I think is at issue — it’s the range of experiences that are being represented by the women and men blogging in their multitude of styles.

Munger: My analysis of the ResearchBlogging database suggests that many fewer women than men sign up for our service. Do you think there are fewer female science bloggers than males? Any guesses as to why?

Stemwedel: I have no good census data from the blogosphere as a whole or the scientific sector of it, so your guess is as good as mine.

I do have some hunches about the representation skew at ResearchBlogging.

One is that a lot of women who blog science are specifically blogging about their daily experiences as a women in a field that isn’t necessarily brimming with women at every level of the power structure. In other words, their blogging focus is being a scientist rather than on cool scientific findings that have been announced in the literature.

For related reasons, lots of the women science bloggers use pseudonyms (the better to process their experience without having that processing come back to bite them at work). Blogging cool new papers in your field seems like it has the potential to blow one’s cover.

Munger: Do you think there is a difference in how men and women promote their blogs? If so, what’s the difference?

Stemwedel: Could be. Part of it may be that fewer women are blogging to seek attention than to seek community — either intellectual community, or people who will help them strategize the next career step, or what have you. Another part may be that they just have more stuff to do in their offline lives. (Goodness knows there are plenty of university and professional committees that seem always to want another woman on them.)

Note: Last week I posted interviews with Jennifer Rohn and Martin Robbins. I don’t have a complete transcript for my interview with Kathryn Clancy, conducted by telephone, but she has written a blog post here that covers most of the issues we discussed.

Interview with Martin Robbins

News, Opinion 3 Comments
By Dave Munger

Wednesday’s column on Seed attracted a lot of attention — but for space reasons I had to leave a lot out. I conducted several extended interviews, so I thought I’d post their transcripts here.

I posted Jennifer Rohn’s interview yesterday, and today the series continues with Martin Robbins. Robbins is a science writer with The Guardian and edits the community blog, The Lay Scientist. His post last week identified over 130 women science bloggers, demonstrating that there are plenty of high-quality blogs written by women.

Dave Munger: What do you think is the most important implication of the fact that in the highest-profile science blogging networks, women are dramatically outnumbered by men?

Martin Robbins: I think there’s a danger that we may not have a particularly diverse range of voices in the more prominent end of the science writing community, and if that’s the case then it could limit the ability of science bloggers (and by extension scientist) to have an impact in the wider world, or even add to the image of science and science writing as male pursuits. And we have to consider the possibility that the science blogosphere is not a particularly friendly or welcoming place for certain groups of people. If so, then regardless of the pragmatic concerns about science outreach, we have a moral duty to address the problem.

Munger: What do you know of the Guardian’s efforts to recruit women to its network? Do you think they could / should have done more?

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Interview with Jennifer Rohn

News, Opinion 46 Comments
By Dave Munger

Yesterday’s column on Seed attracted a lot of attention — but for space reasons I had to leave a lot out. I conducted several extended interviews, so I thought I’d post their transcripts here.

First, Jennifer Rohn. Her post inspired the column and generated dozens of comments and tweets. Rohn is a post-doctoral fellow at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London. In her spare time she is also a novelist, science journalist, and broadcaster. She blogs about the scientific life at Mind The Gap.

Dave Munger: What inspired you to make your post about the representation of women in high-profile science blogs? Did you expect the kind of response your post received?

Jennifer Rohn: High-profile blogging networks — in other words, the assemblage of “top” bloggers into exclusive groups on established media outlets such as newspaper and magazine websites — are suddenly all the rage in the wake of the Pepsico scandal at ScienceBlogs. I noticed that many of the bloggers poached for these new networks were male, but it wasn’t until Wired network went live that it occurred to me that the ratios might actually be quite skewed. I tallied a few of them in a graph and there did seem to be a striking trend. Curious what others would make of it — indeed, curious if anyone else had even noticed — I posted the graph on my blog without any commentary, as the observation seemed to speak for itself. I merely included a one-liner inviting discussion about the trend. I was very surprised by the attention it got, but pleased with the resulting debate, which on the whole was reasoned and civilized. And I was especially happy that Martin Robbins (one of those high-profile male bloggers) highlighted the post on his own Guardian blog, which resulted in a great crowd-sourced list of female bloggers, and yet more insightful discussion.
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Active ResearchBlogging blogs, by gender of authors

News 275 Comments
By Dave Munger

Here’s a list of active blogs on ResearchBlogging.org as of Friday, September 17, sorted by gender of authors. Since I had to infer gender based on author names in many cases, I may have made some mistakes — please let me know in the comments if I got any of these wrong. Unfortunately, I also had to omit blogs in languages in which I’m unaware of naming practices. I apologize for the omission. Blogs with the most posts on ResearchBlogging.org are listed first.

Related: My column on gender disparities in science blogging on Seed Magazine.
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A first stab at a science blog aggregator

News 33 Comments
By Dave Munger

Soon after my two posts on science blog aggregation, Bora Zivkovic and Anton Zuiker contacted me asking for my input on a site they were thinking about creating.

The three of us had similar ideas: Now that many leading bloggers from ScienceBlogs have moved elsewhere, there’s no central place readers can go to find out what’s going on in science blogging. Anton and Bora realized that a basic hub for science blogging wouldn’t be difficult to create from existing tools: Wordpress software and a few key plugins. So, after a couple weeks’ discussion, we put together a first-stab at a science blog aggregator in a few days. You can find it here:

Scienceblogging.org

The site is really just an aggregator of aggregators. Everything you see on the front page is a feed from some other bundle of blogs. In a couple cases, we made our own bundles using Friendfeed. The site is flexible enough to add additional bundles as bloggers and publishers form new blogging communities. It’s not ideal — I think the ultimate science blog aggregator will allow users to view blog posts by topic, and perhaps have some way of identifying the best posts. But it’s flexible enough that with some input from the community, we might be able to shape it into something really special. Check it out, and let us know what you think.

ResearchBlogging.org now supports Polish-language posts

News 9 Comments
By Dave Munger

We’re pleased to announce that ResearchBlogging.org now includes posts about peer-reviewed research in Polish. Polish is the sixth language supported by the site, following Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and English.

The site was designed with the flexibility to offer blog posts in any language, but the key to supporting a new language lies not in the software, but the humans behind it. Since most of the people blogging about peer-reviewed research are busy scientists themselves, it can be a challenge to locate qualified experts willing to help evaluate participating blogs to ensure that our standards are maintained, no matter the language of the blog post.

Fortunately, Polish-language bloggers January Weiner, Doskonale Szare, and Ewa Krawczyk have volunteered their valuable time and expertise and will serve as the first Polish-language editors of the site. These bloggers will lead the way in sharing their thoughts on peer-reviewed research, written in Polish.

Visitors to ResearchBlogging.org can specify which language or languages they prefer to read, and the site remembers their preferences from visit to visit (to select multiple languages, use Control-Click or Command-Click). There are also RSS feeds available in each language, and Twitter users can follow posts in each language as well (Polish, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, English).

Here are the first Polish-language blogs to register for the site.

We encourage new bloggers to register. If you blog about peer reviewed research in Polish (or English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese or German), visit our registration page to sign up. If you know a blogger in one of those languages, let them know about our site and encourage them to join.

ResearchBlogging.org helps people locate and share academic blog posts about peer-reviewed research, instead of just news reports and press releases. Bloggers use the ResearchBlogging.org icon to identify their thoughtful posts about serious research, and those posts are collected in a database and displayed on a central site for easy reference.

Over 1,200 registered blogs publish dozens of posts about peer-reviewed research each day. That’s more content than the science section of any mainstream newspaper, and the posts collected are typically much longer and more detailed than a newspaper article. Even if you don’t have a blog, you can still use the site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

And the winners are…

News 5 Comments
By Dave Munger

Research Blogging Awards 2010

We’re pleased to announce the winners of the 2010 Research Blogging Awards!

It’s a fantastic group of bloggers, and it’s been a tremendous experience narrowing the list from 400 nominees to 150 finalists to 21 winners. In the end, registered bloggers on ResearchBlogging.org decided on the winners, so the best bloggers about peer-reviewed research were selected by their own peers.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists — an exceptional group of blogs. If you’re a winner or a finalist, be sure to visit the awards page to pick up your badge. We’ll be in touch with the winners soon about how to collect their prizes.

Thanks to our fantastic judges, to the bloggers who voted on the awards, and, most of all, to all the honorees for their exceptional work sharing peer-reviewed research with the world!

Click here to see the complete list of honorees!

Click here to listen to a podcast where Dave Munger and Seed Vice President for Global Partnerships Joy Moore discuss the awards.

Announcing the finalists for the Research Blogging Awards 2010

News 4 Comments
By Dave Munger

Research Blogging Awards 2010

We’re pleased to announce the finalists for the 2010 Research Blogging Awards.

Click here to see all the finalists

Our readers made over 400 nominations, which the judges painstakingly assessed to select 5 to 10 finalists in each of 19 categories (no award was given for “Best Blog — Computer Science, Engineering, or Mathematics”). Then a short list of the best overall blogs was created based on those ratings and individual nominations from the judges. The judges then discussed that list to decide on finalists for Research Blog of the Year, with its $1000 prize. Here is that list (in random order):

Research Blog of the Year Finalists

  1. Supernova Condensate (RB page)
  2. The Primate Diaries (RB page)
  3. Exploding Galaxies and other Catastrophysics (RB page)
  4. Neurophilosophy (RB page)
  5. Neuroskeptic (RB page)
  6. Not Exactly Rocket Science (RB page)
  7. Skulls in the Stars (RB page)
  8. Science-Based Medicine (RB page)
  9. Christina’s LIS Rant (RB page)
  10. Conservation Maven (RB page)

Originally the plan was to immedicaly open this field of finalists up to voting among registered ResearchBlogging.org users. However, after seeing the incredible breadth and depth of the blogs selected, we decided that it would be better to make the list available for one week, so voters would have a chance to take a closer look at each of the finalists before making their decisions. The list of finalists includes both links to the blog’s home page and its page on ResearchBlogging.org, so you can easily find their posts about peer-reviewed research.

So, one week from today, registered users will receive an email invitation from us to vote for the winners. If you’re registered with us, you may want to check your account to make sure your email address is up-to-date. If you’re not registered (and you blog about peer-reviewed research), you still have time to register so you can vote. Visit this page for more information.

We believe the list of finalists represents some of the best blogging being done on the internet today. The finalists should be honored to have been selected, and we’ve created a badge they can display on their blogs in recognition of this honor. Visit the Awards page for information on how to display the badge.

Voting for the winners will be open for one week from March 4 through March 11. The awards will be announced on March 23, 2010.

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