The International Journal of Public Health blog

More and more public health related journals are expanding their online universes with blogs. Eg. BMJ and PLoS have blogs associated to their journals. Now one of the smaller journals of Public Health has also started a blog. The International Journal of Public Health’s blog is made as a joint venture with the Swiss School of Public Health +.

The blog aims to promote debate around current public health issues and articles published in IJPH and to bring together public health research and clinical practice. The idea behind it has been double:

  1. to provide a discussion platform for quick and direct exchange; and
  2. to put this discussion in an open space so that interested public health people from various fields can follow it and make contributions.

The blog seems to be populated with new posts quite regularly. Mostly the posts work as advertisement of newly published articles in International Journal of Public Health or events at the Swiss School of Public Health +. Almost all the posts end with a question, inviting the readers to comment, share ideas, thoughts and critic, such as:

“What do you think about this study? What could such results mean for Public Health policies?” or “We hope you find these articles useful! What other methodological articles would you like to see in IJPH?”

So far the comments section has not been used much. Whether this is due to lack of interest in commenting or inawareness of the blog is difficult to say as the blog is still quite new, and only was launched early in 2011.

Creating a open commenting culture is perhaps also just something that takes time…

Still communicating about how to communicate science communication

Even though I have been blogging for almost half a year, I can still be amazed by the experience of other people reading my posts, reblogging them, commenting and retweeting them and contacting me directly to express their thoughts. I must admit that it gives me a kick every time. It is not a snow avalanche, but it is enough to increase my motivation and very often it is interesting comments that gives rise to further reflections that again feeds new posts.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about the challenge of communicating science communication. This particular post has resulted in a few comments on Twitter that I thought I’d just share with you:

And questions:

I have had a great discussion by Gmail-chat with a friend from university about the challenges of communicating research and turning research into practice. And about the lack of acknowledgement of communication activities, if it has to do with anything other than  the publishing of articles in peer-reviewed journals. Parallel to the Gmail-chat I had live in-person discussion with another friend also from university, who had a present challenge of how to communicate the results from an infectious disease epidemiological study to staff at health clinics. Very inspiring discussion – for both of us!

All in all really inspirering. I look forward to more of this and hope that everyone who has inputs, views, reflections etc, that I should integrate into a course on Public Health Science Communication will not hold back.

All the best wishes for the new year to everyone and see you in 2012!

Blogs and science communication revisited

Going back in time, looking at old photographs, postcards and letters is something I have always loved doing. And now I find myself going back and reading some of my first posts on this blog. Even though they are still quite new, I still find it amazing to be able to go back and reencounter my thoughts and findings from this summer. With all the information that flows past us in this age of information, it really is amazing to have a place to keep track of a small small fraction of all the thoughts and findings.

My reason for going back in time today was that reading this interesting article “More than a blog” about blogging and sciences made me think of my first posts on this blog about science blogs and peer-reviewed journals and the historical relation between journalism and science communication.

The article “More than a blog” published in EMBO reports gives some interesting perspectives on the role of blogs in science communication. I’d recommend it to people interested in science blogging. It is well written and quite interesting. It would be great if for example public health researchers could be inspired to consider blogging about their own research.

The article takes its offset in a last December’s big news story about the first known microorganism on Earth capable of growing and reproducing by using arsenic (Wolfe-Simon et al, 2010) and the criticism of the article and research articulated on science blogs (Lead by Rosie Redfield from University of British Columbia, Canada).

The article has great links to examples of science blogs. Most of them are within natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology etc.) but they could serve as good inspiration also for bloggers working within other disciplines.

There are also interesting perspectives on the science blog and blogger by e.g.

  • Bora Zivkovic, science blogger and blog editor of Scientific American,
  • Carl Zimmer, a freelance science journalist and blogger,
  • Paul Zachary Myers, biology professor at the University of Minnesota, and blogger at Pharyngula
  • Jerry Coyne, blogger evolutionary geneticist at the University of Chicago

Below a few quotes from the article by the above mentioned people, relating to what motivates the science blogger.

“Redfield said she finds blogging—even if no one reads her posts—a valuable way to focus her thoughts

Bora Zivkovic: “The number one rule in the blogosphere is you never tell a blogger what to blog about. Those bloggers who started on their own who are scientists treasure their independence more than anything, so networks that give completely free reign and no editorial control are the only ones that can attract interesting bloggers with their own voices.”

Zimmer on the contrasts of the independence of blogging and traditional journalism. “You really get to set your own rules. You’re not working with any editor and you’re not trying to satisfy them. You’re just trying to satisfy yourself. “

Paul Zachary Myers: Passion is an important part of this. If you can communicate a love of the science that you’re talking about, then you’re a natural for blogging.”

Coyne: “Blogging gives you outreach potential that you really should have if you’re grant funded, and it’s fun. It opens doors for you that wouldn’t have opened if you just were in your laboratory. So I would recommend it. It takes a certain amount of guts to put yourself out there like that, but I find it immensely rewarding.”

Journalism and science communication

Just thought that I’d share a few links to some articles about the relation between science, journalism and science communication through times. To me they give an interesting perspective on how social media is an obvious channel for communicating science to both a narrow and a broad audience and how it is linked to the previous formats for communicating between scientists.

I both articles references are made to how scientists in pre-scientific journal and early-scientific journal times used letter correspondence to discuss, comment and criticise each others theories, methods, findings and conclusions. The use of letters and the sharing for the content of these letters at scientists meetings.

Read the two posts, both are well articulated and contain fun and surprising examples of how Albert Einstein for example was not the biggest fan of peer-review.

The line between science and journalism is getting blurry….again” by Bora Zivkovic in Scientific American, 20 December 2010.
Richard Smith: Scientific communication is returning to its roots” by Richard Smith on BMJ group blogs, 26 July 2011