ScienceOnline Wrap-Up

I’d like to share some thoughts from a conference I attended earlier this month called ScienceOnline.

An ensemble cast meets every year in Research Triangle Park, NC, over the evolving ideas, needs, and projects of those who conduct, talk about, and share science on the web. For an overview of this year’s conference, I would recommend The Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast.

Last year, I soaked up the advice of veteran bloggers and journalists in the standing-room-only sessions on the future of science blogging. This year, I was already convinced. Science bloggers have an undeniable voice online with feet planted firmly in a range of blogging networks, platforms, and the mainstream media. I think it’s safe to say that science blogging isn’t going anywhere.

What seemed less certain was the place of blogging and other forms of online engagement within the academy. I felt that the real meat of the conference could be found in the sessions pushing for open science and Open Access, a recurring theme at ScienceOnline. While some participants in these sessions said that blogging and opening up their data online has been accepted by their institutions with open arms, others have encountered a much more chilly response. In one session, women around the room nodded when a female engineer described the stigma attached to being the “soft skills chick,” or a blogger who was able to communicate technical details outside the lab.

Beyond the blog, libraries and Mendeley showed themselves as two promising hubs for open science on the web. In a session titled “Data Discoverability: Institutional Support Strategies,” I started to see university libraries’ institutional repositories as a site of collaboration to make scientific data more shareable and discoverable. I stuck around in the same room for the next two hours and found myself getting excited by Mendeley, a platform for sharing bibliographies, or an “iTunes for research papers.” Mendeley’s founders want to break down the barriers that keep scientists from sharing information in real time.

Since I began my studies at CCT and blogging with gnovis, I’ve tried to keep my finger on the pulse of academic blogging across the sciences and humanities. At ScienceOnline, I found that the blogging ethos can make a lot of headway in institutions where there is still much to be done to make research part of the online ecosystem.
Allison Bland

Allison is a first-year CCT student and Blog Manager for gnovis. At McGill University, she studied the intersections between science and society through multidisciplinary studies in cultural studies, history and philosophy of science, and social studies of medicine. Since graduation, she has been working in the nonprofit world and applying social media to science advocacy and health communications. Allison is looking ahead to a career in science writing on the web, and in the meantime, you will find her blogging about open access data and publishing, science and health communication, and feminist approaches to technology in society. Connect with Allison on Twitter, where she tweets about science and health 2.0 topics.