To blog about research or not?

I do not blog about my every day research.  This is for a number of reasons but mainly because my blog is not the appropriate forum for the dissemination of my research process or results.   I have students working on projects to generate preliminary data for grant applications, and working on their own projects.  These may be final year project students, or graduate students.  In all cases, the dissemination of those results and research methods will be at a time and in a manner of my choosing.

This seems initially contradictory because I’m still trying to figure out how to make all of my research data available, for failed and successful experiments and research pathways.  Ultimately its a question of when – I don’t mind blind avenues or failed experiments being published online after I have decided that they are no longer worth pursuing in the short term.  I do not want to see a blow by blow description of my groups research on the internet as it happens.  And I never want to see such a description on a website out of my control (I’m turning into a control freak I think).   I believe that science is best publicised (i.e. put into the public domain)  after careful consideration and that generally occurs during the writing up stage, either for a project report, thesis or publication.  When I think about what goes into research – time, stress, ideas etc, I’d like or would like my co-workers to have first crack at drawing conclusions from the data, not some know-it-all who read it first on a website.

I have no problem with writing about papers I read that I find interesting, whether they are directly related to a project in progress or not.  Actually I think that’s a pretty decent way to engage with the literature and force oneself to take a critical and thoughtful look at the work.  I’d just like those same powers of critique and thought turned to the research in hand rather than generating a blog post.

I’ve read some very good research group websites where all the researchers blog (and I think blog to an extent that they feel comfortable with) but I’m just not ready at this time to take that leap myself.  [I think I’d also have issues with anyone giving a blow by blow description on twitter!]

3 Replies to “To blog about research or not?”

  1. A quick question: what makes your co-worker different from ‘some know-it-all’? Why would a valuable insight or idea be worth less if it came from somebody on the internet?

  2. The insight would not be less valuable, indeed it might well be more valuable – outside perspective, seeing different aspects, different experience and all. I just feel that first crack at conclusions should be given to those who have done the hard work rather than someone who can (rather luxuriously – no long lab hours!) graze through the data and figure it all out. I like science to be a puzzle – the lab researchers reward is getting first crack at putting the pieces together, then the wider world can have a shot.
    Putting the data out there to see what others come up with would be fascinating and something that is severely lacking.

  3. The line between posting about papers you read and interpret, to hiding ideas that are taking shape, is very thin and gray. Pretty soon you’ll hit that paper which would make you say: should I post about it or ‘keep it to myself’?…

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