Altmetric Blog

Category: Interactions

A podcast and a digital native It all started with a podcast. Earlier this year, a 27-year-old biochemistry undergraduate student named Jonathon Allen was listening to a segment of this Nature podcast, which concerned a recent Japanese study by Miyake et al. The study had found evidence in tree rings that pointed to the occurrence of an unidentified cosmic-ray event between AD 774 and AD 755. Armed with Google and an interest in history, the resourceful Allen uncovered an entry (dated AD 774) in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which referred to a “red crucifix” in the sky. He proposed that this was … Read More
Spinning until we’re dizzy For years, news media outlets have been pushing countless claims about cancer-causing agents in our environment. Many of these claims signal real danger, but others, like visiting the toilet at night, are complete hogwash. But after being bombarded by an constant stream of bad news, one could be forgiven for developing mild hypochondriasis. When combined with Wikipedia, medical advice forums, and various unreliable medical websites, it isn’t hard to imagine why the word “cyberchondria” now exists. When it comes to cancer reporting, the misrepresentation of research and inflation … Read More
Science communication gone awry Communicating the intricacies of scientific findings to a mixed audience of non-experts and experts is by no means a simple task. How can one explain complicated phenomena to people with little or no background in research, while also satisfying the specialists? From the choice of source material to the choice of words, clarity and accuracy are crucial components of good science communication. Also important is the interest level of the audience – a major challenge involves getting people to pay attention to the subject matter. The question “why should I care about this research?” is blunt, … Read More
The blog post that became a paper Science blogs are valuable tools that scientists often use to communicate research to the general public. Additionally, expert blogs that are geared towards scientists can enrich and clarify online discussions about scholarly articles. Bolstered by the reach of social media networks, blogs have the potential to exert great influence on generalists and specialists alike. Despite the important roles that blogs play in science communication online, the blogosphere rarely intersects with academic journals. Particularly, when journals and blogs write about the same topics, journals rarely reference blogs, while obviously the reverse is … Read More
An interference effect of equations? Theoretical biologists are skilled at creating mathematical models that can predict, assess, and/or explain natural phenomena. However, according to a recent study entitled “Heavy use of equations impedes communication among biologists” and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the presence of mathematical intricacies in ecology and evolution papers tends to reduce the number of subsequent citations in non-theoretical (empirically based) papers. The authors of the study, Tim Fawcett and Andrew Higginson from the University of Bristol, found that as mathematical equation density increased in the main text, the … Read More
Talking about #womeninscience In the past year, women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have received a lot of online attention. News articles, lists of female scientists on Twitter and Google+, a gender bias survey for journal editors, and conference sessions (such as in next week’s “Women in Science” session at SpotOn London 2012, #solo12WIS) have all intensified the online focus on issues faced by women working in STEM. As in previous years, International Women’s Day (8 March) prompted renewed celebration of women’s contributions in research, in addition to … Read More
The Internet: harmful or just a memory aid? The Internet runs parallel to our physical world: it can be a library, a playground, a television, a telephone, and a postal service all at once. Although it has familiar functions, the Internet now delivers content in a way that we have never quite experienced it before: instantly and on-demand. Every Internet user has learned strategies to pluck relevant items out of the deluge of information. This digitally-adapted lifestyle inevitably affects all users in some way, but the extent to which the brain has been “altered” by the experience of technology remains … Read More
The kinds of attention that scholarly articles receive often tell interesting stories. In the “Interactions” weekly series of blog posts, we look at how intertwining conversations and differing views of the general public, scientists, medical professionals, and science communicators contribute to the overall impact of a scholarly article. The hurdles of a research career In the life of a scientist, frustrations and setbacks are experienced on a regular basis. The trouble typically begins in graduate school, during a scientist-in-training’s first genuine foray into the research world. Success, no longer measured only through grades, is determined by research output … Read More
The kinds of attention that scholarly articles receive often tell interesting stories. In the “Interactions” weekly series of blog posts, we look at how intertwining conversations and differing views of the general public, scientists, medical professionals, and science communicators contribute to the overall impact of a scholarly article.   Science in the making Science is shared online for many reasons, and in the short-term, exciting, novel findings are what typically seep into the public’s consciousness. And yet, a number of long-term, ongoing online discussions concern so-called “science-making”, a subject that can encompass everything from publication processes to research … Read More
The kinds of attention that scholarly articles receive often tell interesting stories. In the “Interactions” weekly series of blog posts, we look at how intertwining conversations and differing views of the general public, scientists, medical professionals, and science communicators contribute to the overall impact of a scholarly article. The first wave: making a “big” splash After a hot research article is first published in a scientific journal, a wave of digital attention sweeps across global social media networks. This wave is sometimes propelled by science communication outlets such as news sites and blogs, which often boil down research findings into … Read More