Why do you blog?

June 17, 2008

OK, so I’m not on the Scienceblogs roll, but the question is still a good one …

Asked here: Why do you blog, and how does blogging help with your research?”

My answer to the first question is because I love to talk about science. And I also like to hear myself talk, and think. It’s really that simple.

The answer to the second question is most definitely. At several levels. For example, it is pretty easy to forget how to communicate with those who are not as deeply buried in their work as scientists tend to be. Blogging broadens the audience, and teaches me to say things in ways that others, especially somewhat educated people who are not intimately familiar with a subject, can understand. This is a very important skill – if I can get a complicated point across to a blog audience, I feel I have a good chance of getting the same point across to, say, a grant panel that does not include an expert in my particular field. When one recalls that members of the panel have to struggle with 10-30 grants over the course of 3 weeks or so, AND they are subsequently cooped up in a room for a couple of days, spending at most 10 minutes on a proposal, one can appreciate how clear and concise writing is important.

Ditto for reviewers of papers. (Then there’s the matter of the “lay language summary” – stay tuned for a new category that I am plotting for later this summer.)

For me personally, my blogging (and, before blogging caught on, participation on discussion boards) has helped my research in very tangible ways. The best example I can think of – I worked up the nerve to develop and propose a rather risky and unconventional approach to our studies of polyadenylation factors for an NSF proposal partly as a result of much discussion on some ID boards (of all places). Beyond the fact that the proposal was funded, the approach developed many fascinating leads that my lab will be pursuing for years to come, and already one small peer-reviewed research paper. There are other benefits, but this is the one that comes immediately to mind. If asked, I’d be glad to elaborate in the comments.

I hope that helps.