Have you ever considered science blogging? This might sound like a question from 2011 — have you ever considered taking a smartphone into the field, or posting your conference talk on YouTube, or wearing a fedora in a non-cosplay setting — but I’m really quite serious.
The current reality is that, after years spent using a handful of centralized platforms, social media is splintering and getting noisier. If you want to build a public online profile for your scientific work, you really need more than a Twitter profile and a validated entry on Google Scholar. Blogging can build an in-depth profile of more than just dashed-off thoughts, on an independent website that’s fully connected and searchable on the open Internet.
Blogging can also be a form of scholarly writing that sits between the short informal thoughts you might exchange on Twitter or Mastodon and the deep work you put into a peer-reviewed article — a space to flesh out your notes about an exciting paper you just read, to sketch some connections you see between a handful of different concepts, to work out a new idea while it’s still forming, or to outline the steps of a method or procedure for future reference. Maybe other folks will benefit from even that preliminary work, and maybe their response will help you polish it for publication in a more formal venue; but the blogging itself is useful practice even if it doesn’t go viral or yield a new publication.
If any of that piques your interest, let me further ask: have you ever considered blogging for The Molecular Ecologist? Contributing a guest post to this very blog is a great way to try the practice without committing to setting up a website entirely your own — and it gets your name into an online venue with some established weight in search engine indexes. We’ve had an open call for one-off contributions for some time, but this summer especially, I’d like to have some new voices on the site — especially early-career contributors who can benefit from the platform. We’ve got a little budget to pay honoraria for guest posts, even.
So, as you contemplate your summer plans, why not pitch a guest post for The Molecular Ecologist. If you have an idea, email me with “TME guest post” in the subject line, and we’ll get you started.
As a further prompt, here’s a few ideas of what could make good guest posts, from that open-call page:
- Paper recaps: Short discussions of new scientific results, which explain a technical paper, place it in context, and/or provide critiques. Length may vary, but posts of this sort work well at less than 1,000 words. We’ve got a brief guide to writing a paper recap post; or see examples here and here.
- Mini reviews: Reviews of a particular topic, explaining a method or a group of related papers. They may be quite a bit longer than a paper recap, but if a mini review gets above 2,000 words you might think about pitching it as a series of posts rather than a single one. A classic example is K.E. Lotterhos on “triangulating” different sources of evidence to find loci under selection.
- Book reviews: Read a book, write up what it’s about and what you thought of it. Length may be closer to a mini review. Academic books are pricey so if you’ve got a title of particular interest in mind, we’ll buy the book for you if you review it for us. There are lots of examples over the years.
- How-to: Explain a method, either computational or experimental, for the laboratory or the field. If the method is computational, we’d prefer to have examples of code, and a link to a publicly available sample dataset that the code will run on. Examples: making Gantt charts; organizing spreadsheets; cleaning microbial reads out of your high-throughput sequencing data.
- Interviews: Find someone interesting, ask them good questions, get interesting answers. These can work well as a series of perspectives on a single topic; one-offs will a harder sell. Examples: A. Murat Eren; Jane Lubchenco; Rosemary Grant.
Some things that we’re not likely to take an interest in include
- Writing about your own work. TME aims to provide community perspective on our field, not a platform for people to post “lay summaries” of their published papers — that’s good content for your professional website.
- Sponsored content: We do not accept pitches for posts advertising commercial products or services, even those related to our fields of interest, nor do we accept proposals for link-sharing or other traffic-exchange purposes. We do not respond to inquiries of this sort, and we will report them as spam.