This post was originally published on BioDiverse Perspectives – a research blog aimed at fostering communication about biodiversity.
Last week, I subtly pointed out that perhaps more academics should be writing blogs. I struggled a bit with this statement, since the majority of scientists that I know don’t even read science blogs, let alone contribute to them. Luckily for me, Jeremy Fox has a great post on why an academic should read blogs, and it looks like it’s already changing some opinions around me.
Well, this morning, Jon Lefcheck, a regular contributor here at BioDiverse Perspectives wrote a response to Jeremy’s post in which he suggested why students in particular should read blogs.
Now, presumably, if you’re a student reading this post, then you are already aware of some good reasons to read science blogs. Even so, I think Jon’s argument that reading and commenting on blogs is a novel way to make meaningful connections is worth thinking about, and I encourage you to check out his post and comment on it with your thoughts.
I also thought that I’d put in my two cents as to why students should read blogs. For me, there are two key reasons that I read blogs: (1) Exposure and (2) Engagement.
- Exposure. I try to read a wide range of literature in my field. I really do. But realistically, I tend to only read a very small subset of articles that directly relate to my research interests. By subscribing to blogs that are written by other researchers in my field, I am exposed on a daily basis to new research that I might otherwise miss. Furthermore, that research comes with commentary. And that commentary often comes from researchers that I hold in high regard. Reading blogs, then, is a way for me to gain exposure to the opinions of researchers that might otherwise only be available at a major conference.
- Engagement. I am afforded amazing opportunities to interact with brilliant graduate students and faculty at my university. Additionally, we have a weekly seminar series that allows me to interact with faculty members from other universities. However, this opportunity isn’t universal. In addition to providing exposure, blogs provide an opportunity for graduate students to engage with one another and with faculty members. Yes, as Jon points out, this can often lead to long-term and meaningful connections. But even in the absence of meaningful connections, it provides students with an opportunity to engage with researchers beyond their own sphere, and could lead to exposure to even more new ideas.