Thursday, September 17, 2009

Starting your blog

As we talked about today, here is some stuff to keep you busy:
  • Sign up for a google account and start a blog at that you can use for your posting this semester. Send me the link to your blog when it is up and running, and be sure to pick a great name.
  • Write an introductory post for your blog. What is its purpose, what will you use it for, who is your audience, etc.
  • Look into the work that Randy Olson has done in science communication. He has his own web site, videos on You Tube, and various writing about science communication spread across the web.
  • Set up a Google Reader account and start subscribing to blogs that interest you. This is a great way to scout out some ideas for your own posts.
That will be good for now. I will be looking out for your progress and will comment along the way.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Amy's second assignment

Here is the library link to the Science in Public book we read for this week if you would like to check it out.

And here are your assignments for this week:
  • Start reading science blogs and leave a comment to this post naming your favorite and explaining why. Here is a good post on how to find science blogs.
  • Also look at some blogs or websites on science communication and leave a comment about that here as well.
  • Check out the COPUS website.
And here is some reading for next week on effective science writing. Both of these books are in the AU library:
Leave any comments or questions you have in the comments section of this post. I will be checking it each day (no pressure).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Some interview tips

Thought you might find these of interest:  How to nail an interview.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some interesting career news

An informative post on how careers are changing in the U.S.  I think it supports our discussions about the important of communication skills, and the need to be a life-long learner.

The data do not break out medical and science fields in particular.  I think if they did, the job outlook for the biology graduate would look even better.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Forgotten Plan B

I forgot to mention that you can choose to produce a short (2-3 minute) video as a joint project instead of doing an individual Powerpoint presentation.  The Southern Fried Scientist had his Invert Zoology students make videos based on science papers.

Videos are an excellent way to convey science.  Want to learn about barnacles?:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The power of Powerpoint

We have spent much of the semester practicing how to present science in writing through your blog posts.  For your last assignment of the semester you will work on another vehicle for conveying science - through voice and slides.  Powerpoint has become ubiquitous and often parodied, but we can't escape the reality that it is a dominant medium for conveying information.  Even if you do not go into a career that requires the standard science Powerpoint presentation, Powerpoint skills will likely be important in your future career.

So your assignment is to develop and deliver a 5-minute Powerpoint presentation on any topic you would like in Biology.  This can be something that you know well and want to teach other people about.  Or it can be something that you don't know well, but want to know more about.

5-minutes is short - perhaps time for about 5 slides.  But this is enough time to give a basic introduction and then push the envelope a bit.  Don't just present the basics - give some deeper information as well.  And of course, it should be interesting.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, write a post to your blog with a brief description of what you plan to present by next week's class.  First come first served on the topics.  And think about whether you would like to present on April 22nd or 29th.  We will split the class between those two days.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The blogging drought is broken

Yes it has been a month, but there was spring break and all of that assessment testing going on.  This coming week we will finish going over the assessment test and talking about our list of what all biologists should know.  Your assignments prior to our next meeting are to:
  1. Look over the rest of the assessment test in preparation for our discussion next week.
  2. Write one blog post on a topic from which you missed a question on the assessment test.  The point of this post is to learn a bit more about this topic and produce a post that will help your colleagues learn more as well.  As always, your post should be interesting, informative and entertaining.
  3. Edit the google docs list of what every biologist should know based on our discussions this past week or your review of your test.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blog highlights

You have been posting some great content on your blogs over the past few weeks.  Here are some notable posts and comment threads that you shouldn't miss.
There is lots of other great content, so mention your favorites as a comment.  And I have not read posts from the last two days yet.  Look for some of those in a future highlight post.

UPDATE:  I have been reminded that Dr. Isis visited another post as well.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blogging and plagiarism

Blogging by its very nature is a mashup.  Many posts combine ideas from other sources and add their own angle on the topic.  So what are the guidelines for properly attributing original sources? Perhaps a good approach to this question is to look at how it should not be done.

Check out this example before coming to class on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another week, another post(s)

Great start on your blogs and nice discussion of science writing this past Wednesday.  I am especially impressed with luring Dr. Isis to leave comments on two of your posts, and your continuing debate on chiropracty.

In addition to some catch up for some of you on your posting and commenting, here are your assignments for this coming week:
  1. Write one more post this week (added to your blog).  This should be a longer post (still less than 800 words).  But not just a short reference to something.  You can develop one of the ideas you shared in class this past week, or do something different.  Try to incorporate the science writing ideas we talked about this past week.
  2. Leave comments on at least two posts from the other course blogs.
  3. Next week we will start assembling a list of what every well-educated biologist should know.  Before next week's class make note of at least 10 items that you think should go on that list.
  4. Check back in a day or so for a reading assignment for next week.
And Happy Darwin Day!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Some blog tech tips

Good job on the great posts so far.  I thought I would point out a couple of details about the blogger platform that would add to the look of your posts:
  1. Use hyperlinks when referring to a webpage.  Highlight the text that you want to use as the hyperlink, and then click on this button in the Blogger "Compose" panel: .  Now you paste the web address of the webpage into the window that pops up.  You should always use this method to reference other webpages if you refer to them or use their information.
  2. If you quote from a webpage, use this button to start an indented quote section: .  This is a standard practice in the blogosphere.
  3. Want to make a fancy bulleted or numbered list?  Use one of these buttons:  
  4. And as some of you have already realized, using images in your posts is a great idea.  Not always necessary, and try not to be gratuitous, but they can really jazz things up.  This button will allow you to upload a picture from your computer, or use a picture directly from another webpage: 
  5. This last tip is not about tech.  Be sure to proof your posts as I am noticing a few typos and grammatical errors creeping in.  A good rule is to wait 15 minutes after writing something to proof it, or have a friend look it over for you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The blogs are live

Congrats on getting your blogs up and going.  I think their names alone will draw some interest.
Here are the links to your blogs:
Add them to your Google Reader accounts so that you can keep up with the latest posts.  They are also part of the blogroll on this blog.

As a reminder, here are your assignments for the coming week:
  1. Add the two posts that you wrote in the past week to your new blog.  Trickle them in during the week as you planned in class today.
  2. If you have not done so already, email me the URL for your blog, or leave it as a comment to this post.
  3. Leave comments on at least two posts from the course blogs.  Try to add something to the post - don't just say "hey, nice post."
  4. Come to class next week with two new post ideas.  In class I asked you to write a new post - BUT INSTEAD, I would like you to think of two ideas for future posts that you can share with the class.  YOU DO NOT NEED to write the posts themselves.
  5. Read the new handout on science writing.  Try using the advice you have been reading when thinking about blog ideas or how you might write your next post.
And lastly, one Blogger tip - if you want to cut and paste your writing into the "post writing" window in Blogger, you have to use the "Edit Html" tab.  Notice that at the top of the window where you write your posts there are two tabs - "Compose" and "Edit Html".  The "Compose tab lets you change fonts, add hyperlinks, etc.  But to cut and paste in any text you need to use the "Edit Html" tab, and then switch back to "Compose" for the other features.

Have fun and leave comments if you are having any technical, or other, issues.  I will leave some additional posts this week on some of the settings you can tweak with Blogger.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Your first posts

Due to the snow day we are not able to set up blogs for this week.  But I would like you to start working on your first posts.  Last week we briefly discussed what topics each of you would cover on your blog (toxicology/pharmacology; environmental science/ecology; medical/health; general cell/molecular; a hybrid blog for the 2 pm class).  You probably know which of these five groups you fall into.  So now it is time to write your first posts.  Here are your assignments for the week:
  1. Drop by my office and pick up another handout on good science writing.  I will place these in a box outside my office door by noon on Thursday.
  2. Write a post critiquing another science blog post anywhere in the blogosphere.  Use your reading about good science writing to evaluate someone's writing.  You can pick a very well written post and explain why it is so good.  Or pick one that could be better, but explain why.  Be specific.  Cite specific examples and specific ideas from your reading on science writing (are you catching a specificity theme here?). TicTacJoe pointed out a particularly good blog post that he likes. I have one on limpets and global warming that I like (but then I am a little biased). You can critique these or any others that you find. Next week you will use your critique as your first posted blog entry, including a link to the original post.  Be aware that people can trace back to posts that link to theirs.  So you might want to avoid critiquing a post that you would need to trash.
  3. Write your own post on something that interests you.  You have been reading (hopefully) lots of science blog posts over the last week.  Now it is time to try your own. Practice the techniques that you have been reading about, but don't get too caught up in making it perfect. But you should proofread and make sure there are no typos or grammatical mistakes.  There is no excuse for that.
  4. Keep adding blogs that you like to your Google Reader account.
  5. Check out this informative article on blogging from Slate.
For now, write your two posts in Word or some other word processing app.  You will add them to your real blog next week.  

Post any questions, comments or problems about this assignment in the content feed of this post.  And have fun!

Snow falls, classes canceled

As you probably already know, classes are canceled today.  This means we will wait until next week to organize and set up our blogs.  However, your assignment to comment on your favorite blog for the week is still due today.  I notice that some of you have not completed this assignment.  You should also have set up a google reader account and started loading blogs into it.  

The following post will give you some assignments for next week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blog carnivals and competitions

I thought of a couple of other approaches for finding great science blogs:
  1. Blog carnivals are collections of blog posts on specific topics.  Authors can submit their own posts, which are then hosted by a different blog on a rotating basis.  For example, Carnival of the Blue is a marine themed carnival.
  2. Best of competitions - these are judged events to select the best blog posts.  The Open Laboratory is one of the better known examples from science.  If you write something great this semester think about submitting it for the 2009 competition later this year.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Finding good science blogs

While a relatively small fraction of the million of blogs on the web are science blogs, there are still a lot to look through.  Here are a few ideas for finding them:
  1. Use a blog search engine like Blogsearch or Technorati.
  2. Check out some science blog aggregators like the Nature Blog Network, Blog for Darwin, and of course ScienceBlogs.  The first two are sites that you can register with that will show your blog posts, essentially advertising your blog for you.  The third is an invite only site that, I think, pays its bloggers.
  3. Click on links in the blogrolls of the blogs that you read.  These are lists that run along the right or left side of a blog that link to other blogs.  You can quickly surf your way through dense networks of blogs, and you may notice the web cliques that people belong too.
I look forward to seeing what you find.  Be sure to add the good ones to your google reader account.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So let's think about blogging

Next week in class you will be starting up your own blogs.  In the meantime I would like you to read a bit about science writing and check out the science blogs that are already out there.  Here is your assignment for our next class:
  1. Read the chapter from Deborah Blum's Field Guide for Science Writers and be ready to discuss it next week in class.
  2. Start reading through some science blogs to find ones that you like, and ones that you don't like. I'll post soon with ideas on how to find blogs to read.
  3. Use Google Reader to start following your favorite blogs.  This RSS reader will be important as you follow each other's blogs and when looking for post ideas.
  4.  Leave a comment to this post with the name of the best blog you find during the week and what it is about it that you like.

Monday, January 19, 2009

How does the public view science?

On Wednesday we will talk about whether and how scientists should communicate their work to the public.  But what do we know about how the public views science?  Seed Magazine recently had a series of articles on the State of Science, with a couple pages devoted to this question.

Also check out the slideshow on Science Cafes.  The third slide is of our local Cafe in Cleveland at the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How do you get into grad school?

Brittni asked that we talk about what to do if one does not get into grad school.  Maybe a better starting point is to talk about how to get into grad school.  Here is an interesting post, guest written by an eminent cardiovascular physiologist, on how to impress a University professor when interviewing to become a part of their lab.

Notice the somewhat typical snarky mood of this blog.  Humor is a good way to keep people reading, but is not always necessary.  Brad asked about anonymity in blogging - well Dr. Isis does blog anonymously.  And she blogs about shoes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Welcome to our central blog

This will be a place where I can post information about class, links to online content and eventually links to your blogs.  It was great to hear about your diverse interests today and I am looking forward to good discussions with all of you.
Remember to bring your completed survey with you next week and be prepared to discuss the reading from Science in Public.
I thought I would give you a couple of links to get you started poking around the science blogosphere:
  • ScienceBlogs is a collection of science bloggers (duh) organized by the Seed Media Group, a publishing house that produces the great science magazine Seed
  • And in a bout of shameless self-promotion, here is the link to my blog, A Fish Eye View
Remember to check back to this space, as I hope to post every couple of days.