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All the Science That’s Fit to Blog - A Dissertation Talk

A presentation of findings from #MySciBlog interviews and 2014 survey of science blogging practices, conducted by Paige B. Jarreau, for the fulfillment of her dissertation research. Please credit all data and graphics to Paige B. Jarreau, Louisiana State University.

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All the Science That’s Fit to Blog - A Dissertation Talk

  1. 1. All the Science That’s Fit to Blog PAIGE BROWN JARREAU DISSERTATION RESEARCH #MySciBlog
  2. 2. All the Science That’s Fit to Blog • Routines, norms, values and content decisions of science bloggers Qualitative, in-depth Interviews Summer 2014 Survey of 600 science bloggers, Fall 2014
  3. 3. In-Depth Interviews HOUR-LONG, QUALITATIVE INTERVIEWS WITH 51 SCIENCE BLOGGERS DIGITAL INTERVIEWS 31 WOMEN / 20 MEN 19 INDEPENDENT BLOGGERS 21 NEWS MEDIA NETWORK BLOGGERS 7 NON-NEWS-MEDIA NETWORK BLOGGERS 22 PAID TO BLOG 19 CAREER COMMUNICATORS 29 IN SCIENCE RESEARCH / ACADEMIA 12 CURRENTLY STUDENTS 7 GROUP BLOGGERS 3 PSEUDONYMOUS BLOGGERS US / UK CENTRIC
  4. 4. Jarreau, Paige B (2015): #MySciBlog Interviewee Motivations to Blog about Science. figshare. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1345026
  5. 5. Blogging Practices: Major Themes (based on qualitative analysis) • Blogging for Myself… • Blogworthiness determined by personal interests (“things I find interesting/cool”) and passions, enjoyment and self-expression (a creative outlet). • Using oneself as a proxy for readers: ‘if I’m interested in this, others will be too.’ • Writing freedom a key characteristic of blogging • … to Popularize Science • A translational/explainer role • Considering reader interests (science of everyday things; relatable) • Reaching a broader audience • Wow factor • A strong motivation to popularize and explain science to non- expert audiences characterizes much of science blogging today
  6. 6. Blogging Practices: Major Themes • Journalistic Routines • Blogworthiness determined by traditional news factors, including what is topical and timely, novel, unexpected, important/relevant to the reader or society, etc. • Science bloggers may be socialized into journalistic practices • Outreach, Education and Engagement • A majority of science bloggers mentioned outreach or educational approaches to selecting/producing blog content • Communicating the process and realities of science • A strong motivation to popularize and explain science to non- expert audiences characterizes much of science blogging today
  7. 7. Blogging Practices: Major Themes • As an Expert • Staying within one’s area of expertise, translating research or countering misinformation based on one’s own expertise Comic from xkcd.com
  8. 8. Blogging Practices: Major Themes • The ECOSYSTEM Approach • Science bloggers are paying attention to content that their fellow bloggers and science writers are producing Phil's 1stPix, Flickr.com
  9. 9. Ecosystem Approach Value-Added Blogging Finding a Niche; Something Different Avoiding stories/topics covered (well) by others Keeping track of blogs in one’s topic area Having a unique angle or something to contribute Sticking to core topics Focusing on exclusive, unique content Blogging to fill a topic/niche gap Not a slave to the news cycle I can elaborate on this, do something special with this Blogs as a place for opinions, interpretation, personal commentary Having a creative spin on a story, a personal insight, etc.
  10. 10. #MySciBlog Interviewee #3, Female, Scientist, Network Blogger: I think of it most of the time as kind of part of the bigger blog ecosystem. […] If there's a paper that's out that is something about parasite mind control [laughs], even though that's probably something I could write about, it's my field, but, you know, I know that's probably something, again, Carl Zimmer or Ed Yong or somebody is going to take up and do a fabulous post on it. So you know, that's probably a topic that I wouldn't really cover as much. I know a lot about kind of who covers what beats, I guess? And what has kind of evolved over the many years of this blogging ecosystem [laughs]. That doesn't necessarily mean I wouldn't cover something, but you know, it does influence my choices a little bit, because if I think someone else is going to do it, and especially if they're going to do it better than me, […] I just don't think I'll have anything to add on that particular point, and so I might choose something else to write about.
  11. 11. Blogging Practices: Major Themes • Logistics and Editorial Process • Time and resource constraints • Editorial oversight at blog networks / news organizations • Opinion and Interpretation • The blog as a modern day op-ed column • What’s Missing from the Media • The Writer’s Home • Using one’s blog as a complement to other forms of writing, freelance work, etc. • Community Acceptance and Online Vulnerability • Concerns about sharing personal experiences and blogging on controversial issues, especially among female science bloggers
  12. 12. What factors determine science blog content? Adaptation of Shoemaker and Reese’s hierarchy of influence model, graphic © Paige B. Jarreau
  13. 13. “First and foremost, I need to be passionate about it. I can't really write about anything that I'm not passionate about.” Bloggers
  14. 14. Blog Routines “I think that's one of the huge benefits of blogging, is, it's really a reflection of me. And unlike science, where the human side, the "I am a human" scientist gets left out sometimes, and newspapers or magazines where the magazine has the identity of the author, like, this is coming from me.”
  15. 15. Organization / Blog Community “I think that we [our blog network] tend to gravitate toward, that blogs should be fun to read, and, um, they’re not necessarily where we put the most, I would say, hard-hitting important news?”
  16. 16. Organization / Blog Community Competition, Comparison to Journalistic Products Media, Extramedia Forces “If I was going to write a blog where I wasn’t going to have all of those crazy resources to be able to go out and interview multiple people and spend tons of time on this, it had to be different. I was going to look for studies that were still really interesting, but wouldn’t necessarily get covered other places.”
  17. 17. Survey of Science Bloggers ONLINE SURVEY 610 VALID RESPONSES 345 MALES 256 FEMALES 400 INDEPENDENT BLOGGERS 210 NETWORK BLOGGERS Index of 2,112 Science Blogs
  18. 18. Who are science bloggers? Some survey STATS • 71% blog independently (Wordpress.com, an independent website, etc.) • Network bloggers tend to be occupied in science writing, communication, etc.; Independent bloggers in science research/academia • Average blogging experience: 3 ½ years • Pay: 14% (N = 86) indicate that they earn money on their main science blog, 85% (N = 519) do not. • 46% (N = 283) are 18 to 34 years old, 27% (N =165) are 35 to 44 years old. • Highly educated – 21% (N = 130) having Master’s degrees and nearly 48% (N = 290) having doctorate degrees. Less than 5% of #MySciBlog respondents have less than a Bachelor’s degree. Majority have a degree in a life science (39%, N = 235) and/or physical science field (28%, N = 170)
  19. 19. Jarreau, Paige B (2015): #MySciBlog Science Bloggers' Target Audiences. figshare. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1285634
  20. 20. Survey question based on Fahy, D., & Nisbet, M. C. (2011). The science journalist online: Shifting roles and emerging practices. Science bloggers self-perceived roles
  21. 21. How often do you engage in the following roles in your blogging?
  22. 22. Perceived Blogging Roles depend on… • Occupation • (research/academia vs. writing/journalism) • Science Communication Training • Those with scicomm training engage in the role of advocate significantly more often than those without such training even when controlling for other factors • Gender • Male science bloggers report engaging in the roles of watchdog and media critic more often than do female science bloggers. Female science bloggers report engaging in the role of explainer more often. • Blog Location • Network bloggers engage more often as public intellectuals and investigative reporters
  23. 23. Blogging Content Idea Sources
  24. 24. BLOGWORTHINESS Passionate about Can add context to Fits my blog theme/topic well Relevance to my readers Within my area of expertise Deserves more media attn. Can add new angle, spin Strong opinions Known for Personal experience Useful for my work, Visuals, Topical, Simple, Before others (timely) Jarreau, Paige B (2015): Blogworthiness Factors. figshare. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1302547
  25. 25. Blogging Approach • Journalistic approach to blogging • ++ timeliness • - - reliance on one’s own passions and scientific expertise • Editorial approach • ++ strong opinions toward the topic and being able to provide a new angle or context • Translational/explainer approach • ++ gauging the blogworthiness by the presence of strong visuals (image, video, etc.)
  26. 26. Social Network Analysis SURVEY PARTICIPANTS ASKED TO LIST UP TO THE TOP 3 SCIENCE BLOGS THEY READ ON A REGULAR BASIS. DATA MAPPED IN GEPHI COMMUNITY DETECTION BY MODULARITY CLASS
  27. 27. Interactive Data! http://bit.ly/MySciBlogREAD Jarreau, Paige B (2014): MySciBlog Survey - Top Read SciBlogs by SciBloggers. figshare. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1278974
  28. 28. Detecting Communities of Practice Jarreau, Paige (2014): MySciBlog Survey - Top Read SciBlogs by SciBloggers. Figshare http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1278974 Andrew Hinton, “What Communities of Practice can mean for Information Architecture”
  29. 29. Summary • Large majority of science bloggers blog for themselves and to popularize science. • Many science bloggers adopt scientific community values including concern for education and outreach in the production of their blogs. • Growth and professionalization of the science blogosphere has had an impact on approaches, values and routines. • Ecosystem Approach • Community-level factors shape science blog content • Other bloggers; Online vulnerability and community acceptance • Mix of traditional journalistic routines and emergent science blogging routines • Logistics and editorial processes can strongly guide network and group blogging content routines, and even “independent” bloggers’ decisions
  30. 30. QUESTIONS? EMAIL PBROW11@TIGERS.LSU.EDU Thank You

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