Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Why a blog?

We are a group of academic scientists at various career stages who are passionate about what we do and about making sure that our research is widely available.  Different models of 'Open Access' are being debated in the scientific community right now, but all of them will make scientific papers, produced for an academic and specialist audience, more widely available.  We believe that this is a Good Thing, but not in itself that helpful, because reading scientific papers requires 'insider knowledge' because they are dense, formalised communications aimed at small and specialist knowledge communities.  Even when we teach students in masters' level courses, we find that many of them are still not comfortable extracting information from such articles or can only do so slowly. 

What is really needed to circulate our findings more widely, we said, as we chatted over our coffees, is some means of making available short summaries in accessible language of the articles we're producing, perhaps along with opportunities for an interested reader to ask questions of the author.  We also agreed that there might be some interest in sharing some insights into the process of producing those papers- the planning, the search for funding, the field work, the lab work, the data analysis, and even the writing.  None of us are web-designers, so a blog platform which allows multiple authors, comments and discussion, and labelling of posts so interested readers can follow particular topics is an easy way to actually make a start.  So, world, here's a new blog for your enjoyment!