Top tips for building science communities with social media

So a few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be asked to give a talk at the Nature Careers Expo in London about how to use social media to  build scientific communities. As part of this, there was a short panel discussion afterwards with myself and Sarah Blackford from the Society for Experimental Biology, and Nature have made a few short videos of some of the responses available!

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Social Media and the Seven Twitter Accounts

This was originally posted at: http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=1232

“Postpublication peer review on social media is like the mosh pit at a punk rock conference. It’s fast, uncoordinated, a lot less subtle, more in your face, and involves a few more risks.’

Peer review is the cornerstone of scientific legitimacy – it is the process where research is analysed by your professional peers. Traditionally, this has been conducted before the publication of an article. However, with the advent of the digital age of communications, particularly with regards to social media and the advent of ‘Web 2.0’, things are beginning to change. We now have systems in place where not just experts, but anyone, can comment on and evaluate research at many stages of the research publication process.

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Spice up your science with these 10 simple steps

This was originally posted at http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=1168

What an awful title, eh. Well, you can avoid making this mistake! A recent Guardian post by Conversation UK’s Akshat Rathi (he’s popular on the blog today!) discusses some of the common mistakes in popular science writing and how best to avoid them. It’s fairly general, and by no means exhaustive, and mainly for more writing about science than science writing (er, the latter being formal publication in peer-reviewed journal, I guess).

But a more interesting recent find was a wonderful paper by Kaj Sand-Jensen from 2007 entitled ‘How to write consistently boring scientific literature‘,  all about, well, you guessed it, avoiding some common pitfalls when writing science articles. So in true Buzzfeed style, here are the top 10 tips of how to be a terrible science writer, with some personal comments after.

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The greatest mass extinction in the history of life

This was originally posted at: http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=1204

In palaeontology, there are so many things more important than dinosaurs. For example, the study of large-scale patterns in the history of life on Earth, commonly known as macroevolution, is all about uncovering patterns of speciation and extinction. We are currently about to enter the sixth mass extinction within the last 542 million years of life on Earth, so figuring out exactly what happened during periods of elevated extinction and ecosystem catastrophe is pretty damn important if we want to offset as much damage as possible.

Recently, a suite of new papers have been published giving detailed insight into the environmental and biological patterns and processes throughout the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, an event 252 million years ago that saw the demise of greater than 90% of life on this planet (numbers vary depending on which measure you use). What I’d like to offer here are bitesize summaries of each, and show that there is much more important research out there in palaeontology than just ‘woo new dinosaur’.

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The Cambridge Science Festival

This originally appeared at: http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=1152

Last night, I was honoured to have spoken at the final evening lecture at the Cambridge Science Festival, along with Nick Crumpton, Anjali Goswami, Rob Asher, and Stephanie Pierce, about why palaeontology is important. Below is a rough transcript of some of what my talk was about. Unlike the others, I didn’t discuss my own research. Instead, by general gist was that although palaeontology is useful in addressing some of the greatest scientific questions of our time, like the evolution and history of life on Earth, the current narrow framing of science in terms of impact is being quite detrimental to creativity and exploratory science. As such, should palaeontology be more focused on its emotive qualities, and be used as a ‘hook’, or ‘gateway’ into the other fields of science?

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