Liveblogging the 2008 NC Science Blogging Conference - Student Blogging from K - PhD panel

Our student blogging panel includes:

Shelley Batts, Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience at University of Michigan ( - Has had issues with being identified on her blog, but considers it worthwhile for the risk.

Brian Switek, Rutgers undergraduate studying paleontology ( - Undergraduate who has encountered an issue with being identified on his blog, but is still supportive of being identified there.

Sarah Wallace, Duke undergraduate public policy major who spent a summer researching in the Ukraine ( - Her research over a summer studying in Chernobyl was posted in a blog, originally meant to keep in touch with friends and family, but it became much more fruitful.  She believes that her inexperience with blogging was actually a benefit because she invested a lot of time and effort into putting those words into her blog.

Anne-Marie Hodge, Auburn undergraduate zoology major ( - Advisors are supportive of her blog.  

Anna Kushnir, graduate student at Harvard Medical School ( - writes about the culture of science, how scientists differ from the perspective of a person not intending to have a career at the laboratory.  She got a part-time job blogging for the Journal of Visualized Experiments from her blog!


Now let's get into some discussion!  

Should we mention our blogs on CVs, grad school applications, and the like?  Consider that not everyone is web savvy, so it may not automatically help or hurt you.  Of course, it certainly can.  

Should students be "ashamed" of having a blog?  The outreach, the community, and so many other benefits shouldn't be swept under the rug, even though there are downsides to blogs.  Karen James (I'll add a URL later) pointed out that other pursuits than blogs can cause the same problem; for her, it was science communication training.  It can be any pursuit, of course.

Any issues of plaigarism or getting stolen data?  Is it okay if you write about a potential research topic on your blog?  Would someone else scoop it?  Would your professors be uneasy about doing this?  It could be bad, but consider Kevin Zerino's point on the other hand that very few people will ever read a scientific journal in a specific discipline, but your ideas may see the light of day if they are posted in your blog.  

Who is reading your blog?  Consider that even if your advisor or professor doesn't read blogs (or even e-mail, in some cases), they likely have children, colleagues, and others that do, so you may not stay anonymous or outside of their radar.  Anne-Marie's rule of thumb is to think of your audience as better educated and informed on the topic at hand than you, which has led her to improve on fact checking, considering how much to delve into details, and so forth.

Bora Zivkovic (co-organizer of this conference) pointed out that the faculty members he worked with in graduate school sought out passionate students, and the blogosphere is an opportunity to express your enthusiasm for your discipline, and perhaps a professor's specific research area (as long as your entries are light on LOLcats and smileys, as Shelley points out).  That would be a case where adding a URL to your CV or grad school application is beneficial.

There were other points that I may write up later, but my notes are a bit scant because I participated more in this session than the others.  On we go.