Category Archives: blogging

Making people angry

Image: Rage, Deiby Chico via flickr.com CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I’ve been posting here at Scientist Sees Squirrel for three years and change, and in that time I’ve learned a few things.  I’ve learned that some posts are wildly popular, while others sink like very quiet stones.  I’ve learned that writing a post is a good way to find out what I think about something, and that leaving the comments open is a great way to find out what I’m missing in my thinking.  And I’ve learned that some topics make people very, very angry. Continue reading

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Imposter syndrome, and some posts I’m proud of

Like a lot of scientists, I’ve got a little bit of imposter syndrome.  I’m secretly* afraid that my colleagues will discover that I’m not actually very good at what I do and that I don’t belong in science.  (To be clear: strictly intellectually, I understand that I’m not really an imposter; but that has almost nothing to do with how I feel.)  I have this worry about my research, about my writing book, and even about my blogging. At some point in the writing of nearly every new post, I find myself thinking “I’ll be embarrassed if people read this”.  (A while ago, I connected this to introversion, but I don’t think it’s just that.)

There seem to be two really useful ways to deal with imposter syndrome.  One is to admit that you feel it, and I’ve just done that.  The other is to recognize good work that you’ve done.  Continue reading

“Guest-post SPAM” is a thing now

Image: SPAM-flavoured macadamia nuts (own work; CC BY 4.0).  Look, these nuts horrified me as much as they horrify you – but I have to admit, they were pretty good.

We’re all accustomed to fake-journal spam and fake-conference spam by now.  But I’ve started to get a new flavour of spam in my inbox: guest-post spam.

Here’s the thing: I’ve had some really nice guest posts on Scientist Sees Squirrel*, and I’d be happy to have some more.  Guest posts offer some different perspective, and the world certainly needs more than just mine.  But here’s the latest guest-post spam to come my way: Continue reading

Three years without an attention span

Photo: Eurasian red squirrel © Peter Trimming CC BY-SA 2.0

Warning: navel-gazing.

Today, Scientist Sees Squirrel is three years old.  This is somewhat startling to me, as is the fact that I’ve written about 240 posts on the blog.  In honour of this blogoversary, I went back and re-read my very first post: Does an academic need an attention span?  I was relieved to discover that, while it’s a little clunky, it doesn’t hold up too badly. Continue reading

Arguing with myself

Image: arguing Northern Mockingbird (© Chiltepinster CC BY-SA 3.0). I’m the one on the left.  And also the one on the right.

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  I’ve written about 240 posts for Scientist Sees Squirrel, and the other day I busted myself: I discovered that I’ve written two contradictory ones.  They’re both about originality (and yes, I can smell the irony in having written two posts on originality).  The first one (We praise originality, but we don’t value it) argued that we undervalue originality in research.  The second (Originality is over-rated – even by me) argued that we overrate originality in research.  Nice job, Heard.

Now, I’ve re-read both posts carefully*, and I can just barely build an argument that they’re not quite as contradictory as that.  Continue reading

The J-shaped curve of blog-post popularity

Warning: navel-gazing.

Believe it or not (and I have some trouble believing it myself), I’ve written 235 posts for Scientist Sees Squirrel over the not-quite-three-years of its existence.  Some have made waves.  Others have vanished into the deep waters of the internet without the hint of a ripple.

I got thinking about this because last month I wrote a post called Statistics in Excel, and when is a Results section too short?.  It turned out, to my surprise, to be one of the “wave” ones: it was read just over 3,000 times in its first 48 hours.  I’m pretty sure that’s more eyeballs than my entire body of published work (79 papers plus The Scientist’s Guide to Writing) gets in a year*Continue reading

Reach and impact of science-community blogs in ecology (new paper!)

My latest paper just came out, and it’s unlike anything I’ve done before.  It’s called Bringing Ecology Blogging into the Scientific Fold: Reach and Impact of Science-Community Blogs.  Really, I’d be perfectly happy if you just went and read the paper – but for those who might like a bit of context and backstory, here are a few thoughts.

(1)  It was tons of fun to have, as coauthors, a bunch of terrific bloggers: Amy Parachnowitsch and Terry McGlynn from Small Pond Science, Manu Saunders of Ecology is Not a Dirty Word, Margaret Kosmala of Ecology Bits, Simon Leather of Don’t Forget the Roundabouts, Jeff Ollerton of Jeff Ollerton’s Biodiversity Blog, and Meghan Duffy from Dynamic Ecology.* If you’re reading me but not them, I don’t know what the heck you think you’re doing. Continue reading