Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Every academic journal should have a blog.

Yesterday, Jeremy Yoder directed me (via twitter/his blog) to a new blog: the Molecular Ecologist.  I was drawn to it because, well, I’m interested in molecular ecology.  But when I got to the site, I got a little over-excited.  This is a blog run by the academic journal Molecular Biology Resources, but they want to do more with the blog than just self-report.  Their description:

However, we’d like to do more to support the molecular ecology community as a whole. This blog is a step in that direction- a forum for readers and contributors to the journal to discuss the latest papers and trends in the field. Future additions to the site include a comprehensive, searchable list of computer programs and other code (e.g. R packages) useful for analysing genetic data; and a site where novel lab methods can be posted and discussed.


Every academic journal should have a blog!  It doesn’t have to be fancy; Molecular Ecology Resources just started up a simple WordPress account.  But this creates a space for discussion, sharing of information, to publish additional information such as interviews, and more.  I think it’s a great way to get the researchers to do a bit of blogging and share their stories and their research.

It would be self-promotional, that’s for sure.  I’m sure the blog will publish many write-ups of their own articles.  But if they hold true to their word and try to discuss other important research and trends in the field, it could be very beneficial to the molecular ecology community and be a great model for other disciplines.

Maybe this sort of thing exists elsewhere, but I haven’t seen it done so simply.  So good job, Molecular Ecologist.  I hope you take this somewhere wonderful and set a great example for other journals.

Written by Hanner

October 5, 2010 at 8:07 am

5 Responses

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  1. I agree with you that having a blog is one of the easiest ways a journal (or scientific institution!), can engage with its readers, when it is done properly. A simple aggregator of press releases won’t do, but a blog with interviews and peeks behind the scenes of research or publishing would definitely be something interesting to watch out for!

    On the other hand I think it is important to be aware of the limits that a blog has as a community builder and place for discussion. The core format of a blog is that a (group of) writer(s) publishing content, on which other people can comment. This model is not interactive by definition, and the flow of information will largely be in one direction.

    On this front, I think efforts like thePLoS Biodiversity Hub that launched yesterday can play bigger roles in the changing relationship between scientist and publisher. By collecting papers and annotating and linking data to the concepts in the paper they add value to what is already published. In addition they provide easy ways to share and comment on the papers in the Hub themselves.

    I’m curious to see whether the biodiversity community will come along for the ride!


    October 6, 2010 at 3:10 am

    • That is a major problem: the singular direction. So a journal starts a blog; who says people were participate and help it grow to its full potential?

      I like the suggestion of this blog regarding sharing code and methods. That is an area that I think need work. We’ll see where they take it! Also excited about the potential for the biodiversity hub; if the community does come along and it does take off, it could be a great model for future online science communities to follow.

      Hannah Waters

      October 7, 2010 at 10:46 am

    • I think that a blog is a lot more interactive and accessable than a journal itself, where public disputes (when the journal decides to print letters/editorials on a certain topic) are played out over months and years.

      If the choice is between “journal” and “journal + blog”, I don’t see how there is anything to lose (even if “journal+blog+community database+forum” would be even better.)

      Mike Lisieski

      October 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      • I don’t entirely agree with you Mike. Simply starting a blog for the sake of having a blog is not a good idea. It would look unprofessional if the journal chose to just mirror the journal articles and wouldn’t take the opportunity to engage with its readers! I might as well subscribe to the RSS feed of the journal in that case.
        Starting and maintaining a blog requires a bit of creativity and lots of dedication. If a journal is not willing to invest in a blog, they better not start one!


        October 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

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