Panel of Judges for Research Blogging Awards

News 136 Comments
By Dave Munger

We’ve assembled a fantastic panel of judges for the Research Blogging awards. Here are brief biographies of each:

  • Stacy Baker teaches biology at Staten Island Academy, using her class blog and other online tools to revolutionize high school biology teaching.
  • Vaughan Bell is a clinical and research psychologist who is a regular contributor to the amazing Mind Hacks blog.
  • David Bradley is a chemist by training and a freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England. He blogs at and can be found on Twitter as @sciencebase.
  • Marc Cadotte is an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Toronto who blogs at The EEB and Flow.
  • David Dobbs is a science journalist whose work appears in The Atlantic and The New York Times Magazine and blogs at Neuron Culture.
  • Val Jones is a medical doctor who is CEO of Better Health, a site that certifies and collects medical blog posts.
  • Dave Munger is a writer who serves as editor of and blogs at The Daily Monthly.
  • Chad Orzel is Associate Professor of Physics at Union College, author of How to Teach Physics to your Dog and blogger at Uncertain Principles.
  • Jennifer Ouellette is author of two books on physics as well as the founder of Cocktail Party Physics. She is director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange.
  • Gavin Schmidt is a climatologist for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space studies and a founding member and blogger at Real Climate.

This astounding group of individuals (plus me) has graciously volunteered to narrow our list of nominated blogs down to 5–10 finalists in each category. Nominations close on February 11, and the finalists will be announced February 25. (There’s still time to nominate your blog! Click here.)

We’ll have separate judges for the non-English-language blogs, which I’ll list in a separate post.

Announcing the Research Blogging Awards 2010

News 179 Comments
By Dave Munger

Research Blogging Awards 2010

In the past year, members have made over 5,000 blog posts about peer-reviewed research. That’s more science content than any major newspaper, often from experts in their fields. We think these outstanding bloggers deserve serious recognition for their time and effort.

Seed Media Group’s Research Blogging Awards honor the bloggers who discuss peer-reviewed research in every field of scholarship.

Any blog that discusses peer-reviewed research is eligible for nomination, and the winners will be determined by votes from their peers in the Research Blogging community. All finalists will be highlighted on, and winners will receive cash prizes totaling $2000, with the Research Blog of the year taking home $1000.

Here’s how the awards will be chosen:

  1. Nominations: Anyone can nominate blogs (including their own) to be considered for the awards. Nominations close February 11, 2010.
  2. Finalists: A panel of expert judges will select 5 to 10 finalists in each category. Finalists will be announced February 25, 2010.
  3. Voting: Only registered users of may vote for the winners. Voting will be open from February 25 to March 11, 2010.
  4. Awards: The awards will be announced on March 23, 2010. Winners will be selected from the following categories:
    • Research Blog of the Year $1,000
    • Blog Post of the Year $50
    • Research Twitterer of the Year $50
    • Best New Blog (launched in 2009) $50
    • Best Expert-Level blog $50
    • Best Lay-Level blog $50
    • Funniest Blog $50
    • Best Blog — Spanish-Language $50
    • Best Blog — German-Language $50
    • Best Blog — Portuguese-Language $50
    • Best Blog — Chinese-Language $50
    • Best Blog — Biology $50
    • Best Blog — Chemistry, Physics, or Astronomy $50
    • Best Blog — Clinical Research $50
    • Best Blog — Computer Science, Engineering, or Mathematics $50
    • Best Blog — Conservation or Geosciences $50
    • Best Blog — Health $50
    • Best Blog — Psychology $50
    • Best Blog — Philosophy, Research, or Scholarship $50
    • Best Blog — Neuroscience $50
    • Best Blog — Social Sciences or Anthropology $50

Nominations are open now. Click here to nominate your favorites.

Blogging 102 — Taking your blog to the next level

News 50 Comments
By Dave Munger

Today, I’m leading a workshop at the Science Online 2010 conference entitled Blogging 102. The idea behind the session is that many people have been blogging or working online for years. We’ll be discussing new tools and techniques that can help them bring their blogs to the next level. We’ve had some preliminary discussion about the workshop here, but I wanted to use this post as a rough outline for the workshop. Even if you can’t attend the physical workshop, the links here (and discussion in the comments) may help you improve your own blog.

Content tools

  • Poll Daddy — Free, stable polling site.
  • YouTube — Yes, you’ve all heard of it, and it can be useful for displaying crude video. But there are some limitations to this site — it’s not very good for displaying rapid, slide-show type video. I’d love to hear of alternatives.
  • Odeo Player — Handy for streaming an MP3 on your own site.
  • Survey Monkey — This is the best-designed site I’ve found for free online surveys, if you have fewer than 100 respondents. You can also pay for unlimited responses.

Recommended by commenters but not used by me:

Analysis tools

  • Google Analytics. Comprehensive tool for analyzing site traffic. Not quite real-time, though.
  • Sitemeter. Less comprehensive than Google, but gives real-time information. Especially useful for learning where your traffic is coming from.
  • FeedBurner Good way to see who’s subscribing to your RSS feeds. You can also use it to syndicate your posts to Twitter.
  • Backtype. Find out who’s tweeting about your posts, or linking to you in comments. Nice, new service. It also offers a WordPress plugin that allows you to embed twitter comments in a post’s comment thread (link is an example of it working)

Improving content
Improving content can be the subject of an entire workshop, and indeed, I’ve led such workshops in the past. But here are some links to blog posts with tips. We’ll collect additional suggestions at the workshop.

Connecting with social networks
Networks like Twitter and Facebook could be becoming the most important way people learn about blog posts. But content itself is still largely produced on blogs, which give users the most control over their content. I’m still a newbie when it comes to integrating blog content with social networks, but I’d love to have a discussion about how best to do this. Possible topics:

  • Facebook pages, groups, and getting blog content there (here’s an example of an excellent fan page)
  • Using Facebook, Twitter, and Friendfeed (and more?) together
  • Creating mobile-friendly blogs

Beyond the workshop
I’m hoping this post will become a living space where the workshop can continue long beyond Science Online 2010. Feel free to share your own insights in the comments. In the future, I’ll try to revise this post to synthesize our collective insights. and PLoS work together to measure the impact of journal articles

News 195 Comments
By Dave Munger

ResearchBlogging.orgWith over 800,000 journal articles published in 2008 alone, it’s impossible even for experts to read all the peer-reviewed research published in their fields. So how do they choose which articles to read? How do non-experts decide which articles are the most important? Until recently, there really wasn’t an effective way to assess the importance of a given journal article. While Thomson Reuters’ Impact Factor purports to measure the impact of an entire journal, this measure alone can’t say how important a particular article published in a journal is. Most of the articles published even in the most well-regarded journals don’t have especially dramatic impacts.

A new movement is afoot to improve on this system, and is proud to be a part of it. Instead of assigning ratings to entire journals, “article-level metrics” strives to assess the importance of each individual article published. The highly respected journal publisher PLoS began its article-level metrics initiative with several basic tools in March of 2009. But as PLoS ONE publisher Peter Binfield explained in a recent presentation, their plan included rolling out several more advanced features over the course of the year. Today marks the launch of one such tool, a partnership with to identify—nearly in real time—well-considered blog posts written about their articles. now has over 900 registered bloggers who discuss peer-reviewed research in five different languages. Visitors can find blog posts about research by searching for topics that interest them, or by searching for a particular journal article. The relationship with PLoS allows people reading the original articles on the PLoS site to link directly to blog posts about the article.

Every PLoS article has a “metrics” tab offering several different measures designed to help readers assess its impact. Readers can see how many times the article has been viewed, comments made directly on the article, and a user-generated star-rating. Now for the first time they will also see links to posts in blogs registered and approved by Since the site carefully vets every blog and rejects both blogs and individual posts that don’t meet its guidelines, these posts represent the best commentary the internet has to offer about peer-reviewed research, often from experts in the field. This offers an important early means of assessing the impact of an article. While PLoS also counts the number of citations of an article by other peer-reviewed articles, these typically take a minimum of several months to get published, while blog posts about articles often appear within a week of publication—and even on the date of publication, since PLoS offers bloggers the opportunity to see pre-release versions of its articles.

Blogs offer another benefit over some other article-level metrics. As Cameron Neylon and Shirley Wu noted in an article in PLoS Biology, experts may be reluctant to offer comments directly on journal articles, because they often don’t receive academic credit for their remarks. Blog posts on are eligible to be selected as the Blog Pick of the Month at PLoS ONE, and notable posts are recognized daily with Editor’s Selections on—all accomplishments that can look impressive on an academic curriculum vitae. now indexes over 8,000 blog posts, including over 700 citations of PLoS articles, so these incentives appear to be working.

For more information about this new way to assess the impact of journal articles, check out this one-minute demonstration on the PLoS website. There is also a full explanation of article-level metrics on PLoS here.

To register your blog with and participate in this program, click here.

Neylon, C., & Wu, S. (2009). Article-Level Metrics and the Evolution of Scientific Impact PLoS Biology, 7 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000242

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

AcaWiki launches encyclopedia of scholarly research

News 6 Comments
By Dave Munger

We’ve been close followers of the progress of AcaWiki here at Now their site has been formally launched, and it looks fantastic, with dozens of articles summarizing peer-reviewed research reports, all released to the public with a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Many of the posts appearing on qualify to appear on the site since they discuss peer-reviewed research (although AcaWiki is looking specifically for summaries and literature reviews). If you’ve written a post you’d like to add to AcaWiki, you can login to their site and add the post yourself, or you can apply the Creative Commons Attribution license to your post and add the Creative Commons tag to your citations. That will allow AcaWiki’s editors to easily locate your post and add it to their site.

Below is the text of the AcaWiki press release announcing their site launch:
Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Slick tips: Make your blog bilingual

Administration, News 68 Comments
By Dave Munger

As we continue to add support of new languages to, we’ve occasionally run into a thorny problem.

We want readers of our site to be able to select the languages they want to see (you can use command-click or control-click on the “Languages to Display” dialog to select multiple languages). Since bloggers also specify the language they write in, this normally works great. But what if a blogger uses more than one language? Until now, if your blog was written in more than one language, you had to choose just one language for your posts on

However, using custom RSS feeds, you can now effectively divide your blog into two or more separate blogs. Here’s how to do it. This set of instructions assumes that your blog is currently registered as “English” and you want to add “Chinese.” Read the rest of this entry » now supports Chinese-language posts

News 12 Comments
By Dave Munger

We’re pleased to announce that now includes posts about peer-reviewed research in Chinese. Chinese is the fifth language supported by the site, following 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, Chinese-language bloggers Andrew Sun, Xinwei Han, and Haoyang Xu have volunteered their valuable time and expertise and will serve as the first Chinese-language administrators of the site. These bloggers will lead the way in sharing their thoughts on peer-reviewed research, written in Chinese.

Visitors to 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 (Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, English).

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

Yin Zhangqi’s Blog
On The Road

We encourage new bloggers to register. If you blog about peer reviewed research in Chinese (or English, Spanish, Portuguese 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. For more information in Chinese visit Chinese News. helps people locate and share academic blog posts about peer-reviewed research, instead of just news reports and press releases. Bloggers use the 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.

The hundreds of 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.

Editor’s Selections — a new way to find your favorite posts

Editor's Selections, News 6 Comments
By Dave Munger has seen astonishing growth in the past year, and we expect it to grow even more in the coming months. We’re often seeing over 100 new posts in a week. How can you sort through them all, especially if they’re outside of your primary research area?

To address this issue, we’ve found experts who are also accomplished bloggers to server as editors in each of four major content areas: Biology, Health/Clinical Research, Psychology/Neuroscience, and everything else. Each week, they’ll select several posts they found most interesting, and post links to them here on News. Every weekday starting today, you’ll find a list of new posts here, selected for relevance by expert content editors.

I’ll let the editors introduce themselves as their posts appear over the course of the week. We hope you’ll enjoy this new way to find great research on

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