Category Archives: blogging

“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

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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

Personality, politics, profile

Photo: Not doing science (© Jamie Heard)

Warning: navel gazing (again).

How much is science something apart, and how much is it connected to politics and human personality?  This question has been in the air a lot lately, for example in discussion around the US (and global) Marches for Science.  My point today isn’t to recapitulate those discussions.  They resonated with me, though, because of my evolving thinking about my presence online.

When I first took up social media, I was determined that I would keep my Twitter and blog profile purely professional.  I would tweet and blog only about science, and put personality, politics, and pretty much everything else aside.  I was even a little derisive about this, making fun of people who live-tweet their breakfasts.  But I think this was wrong, and I’ve started to loosen up a little. Continue reading

Where do I find the time to blog?

Photo: Ladybird clock, by Kristie Heard (photo S. Heard)

 Warning: navel-gazing.

 I get asked quite often, “Where on earth do you find the time to blog?”  It’s a good question, actually; one I often asked myself in the early days of Scientist Sees Squirrel, and one to which I’ve become tempted to change my answer.

There’s no doubt that blogging takes time.  I write about 7 posts a month, each taking anywhere from half an hour to a few hours.  Occasionally, I get sucked down a rabbithole* and take even longer on one.  That’s time I could be spending on research, or with my family, or cooking, or curling, or perhaps even reviewing your manuscript.  How can I justify this? Continue reading