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Category: science blogs

  Just as yesterday's post on some of the newsier items at Scientific American's blog network was nearing completion, including a congratulations to its new boss Curtis Brainard, he replied to my...

  Just as yesterday's post on some of the newsier items at Scientific American's blog network was nearing completion, including a congratulations to its new boss Curtis Brainard, he replied to my query regarding what's up with his move and how's the site doing?

   First off, he is thrilled, is still getting his bearings, and has been in the New York Sci Am office for only a week writing for the site on the fly while getting himself moved from Boston. It is a return trip to NY for him, after having moved to Boston just a year and a half ago. He came to wide prominence in the science writing world writing for the Columbia Journalism Review. He leaves behind there The Observatory site for commentary and news about the science beat. The Observatory now is in the able hands of CJR's...

One of the hazards of digesting the news every day is that it recedes so quickly into the past that we can have trouble remembering what happened.

So I decided to look back at 2013 at the Tracker. Here are a few posts I wrote over the past year that I thought might be worth a second look:

In January,...

One of the hazards of digesting the news every day is that it recedes so quickly into the past that we can have trouble remembering what happened.

So I decided to look back at 2013 at the Tracker. Here are a few posts I wrote over the past year that I thought might be worth a second look:

In January, a piece of personal-health journalism in the Columbia Journalism Review criticized others' health reporting on the grounds that most studies on which it is based are wrong. The author, David H. Freedman, paradoxically cited studies himself to try to demolish the others. He did not succeed.

The past year was a year of many "cures," I realized. One of the first occurred in March, when reporters wrote about a baby that was "cured" of...

The UK's Daily Mail has found a nifty way to cover science: Simply use other people's stories.

Case in point: On Aug. 6, the science blogger and author Brian Switek, whose obsession with dinosaurs rivals Wile E. Coyote's with The Road Runner, wrote...

The UK's Daily Mail has found a nifty way to cover science: Simply use other people's stories.

Case in point: On Aug. 6, the science blogger and author Brian Switek, whose obsession with dinosaurs rivals Wile E. Coyote's with The Road Runner, wrote a delightful piece for Smithsonian.com entitled, "The Top Ten Weirdest Dinosaur Extinction Ideas," including such things as "extra-terrestrials eliminated the dinosaurs to make room for humanity," and the idea that caterpillars wiped them out by eating all the vegetation, leaving herbivores with "nothing to eat but each other."

On Aug. 8, the Daily Mail ran a not-quite-as-delightful...

Every week, Tabitha M. Powledge distills the theme of the week's science blogs and presents us with some of the best posts she's found in her incessant scavenging. She's been doing this weekly since 2009. Her columns have often been mentioned here on the Tracker and they will continue...

Every week, Tabitha M. Powledge distills the theme of the week's science blogs and presents us with some of the best posts she's found in her incessant scavenging. She's been doing this weekly since 2009. Her columns have often been mentioned here on the Tracker and they will continue to be, even if she disagrees with us about Nate Silver's move to ESPN. Even if she disagreed with us for two weeks running about Nate Silver. We're over it. We're...getting over it.

I'm happy to report that On Science Blogs will continue, but you won't find it any longer at the home page of the National Association of Science Writers. Powledge has been invited to join the science...

I've recently been distracted and enlightened by some amusing, quirky, unexpected, and just plain interesting items from popsci.com, the website of Popular Science magazine.

Today, for example, you can find what might be the only story you will see that addresses how the...

I've recently been distracted and enlightened by some amusing, quirky, unexpected, and just plain interesting items from popsci.com, the website of Popular Science magazine.

Today, for example, you can find what might be the only story you will see that addresses how the Civil War would have been different if its generals had used drones.  I read it because it sounded a bit goofy, but I learned a lot about the Civil War and the technology of warfare, then and now. The story also addresses how tanks and modern artillery and communications would have altered the war.

I can't say my life was changed by a story on urinals with built-in sinks, but the picture made me chuckle:

...

Entries for the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards must be postmarked by August 1, 2013.

" The awards recognize outstanding reporting for a general audience and honor individuals (rather than institutions, publishers or employers) for their coverage of the sciences, engineering and mathematics,"...

Entries for the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards must be postmarked by August 1, 2013.

" The awards recognize outstanding reporting for a general audience and honor individuals (rather than institutions, publishers or employers) for their coverage of the sciences, engineering and mathematics," according to their sponsors.

These awards are considered to be among the best of the awards for science writing. Information on how to apply is available here.

-Paul Raeburn

What are we looking for when we turn to science blogs?

That question is prompted by a post from Colin Schultz, who blogs for Smart News at Smithsonian Magazine. In the post, which he titled, "...

What are we looking for when we turn to science blogs?

That question is prompted by a post from Colin Schultz, who blogs for Smart News at Smithsonian Magazine. In the post, which he titled, "Writing in an Hour: Story Ideas From a Journalistic Blogger," he makes the case for quick blog posts. "I write each of my stories in an hour or less. Sometimes I’ll take longer if I’m doing something bigger. But, in general, I have an hour to research and write each story." The post is a recap of a talk he gave in June at the Canadian Science Writers' Association's annual meeting.

Schultz calls this "journalistic blogging" and he explains it this way: "It’s a job. I don’t just write what and whenever I want. I have an editor, I have deadlines. I work...

When I was looking for my first journalism job, I did my best to scrape together a clip here and there. Every time I got a new one, I sent it with my resume to all the suburban papers around Boston, where I lived at the time. For the first couple of years, nobody replied.

Then I got a call from a fellow who...

When I was looking for my first journalism job, I did my best to scrape together a clip here and there. Every time I got a new one, I sent it with my resume to all the suburban papers around Boston, where I lived at the time. For the first couple of years, nobody replied.

Then I got a call from a fellow who identified himself as the city editor at the Lowell Sun. He invited me in for an interview. Why? "We had five copies of your resume in the file, and we decided we had to either hire you or get rid of you. We don't have any more room."

I did get hired, but not on the staff. I was given a halftime position with no benefits, at a rate of $100 per week. I was told that if I worked 40-50 hours a week in my "halftime" position, and if I did a spectacular job, they might--might--hire me as a regular staffer. It took me about a year to get hired.

It has always been tough to break in to journalism. And it's tough...

Bora Zivkovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia when it was still Yugoslavia, but he was born again into the world of science blogging. As one of the founders of the annual Science Online conference (or unconference, as they like to call it), an editor at Scientific American, a prolific...

Bora Zivkovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia when it was still Yugoslavia, but he was born again into the world of science blogging. As one of the founders of the annual Science Online conference (or unconference, as they like to call it), an editor at Scientific American, a prolific blogger himself, and the author of 111,418 tweets as of this morning, Zivkovic uses, understands and pushes the boundaries of the science blogging world as well as anyone.

So when he decides to assess the current state of blog commenting, it's worth paying attention.

In a substantial post at Scientific American, he begins with a word or two on the recent article in which researchers say they found that found that uncivil comments can...

National Geographic announced today that it will be launching a new science blog network, titled Phenomena, featuring four high-octane science bloggers  - Virginia Hughes (Only Human), Brian Switek (Laelaps), Ed Yong (Not...

National Geographic announced today that it will be launching a new science blog network, titled Phenomena, featuring four high-octane science bloggers  - Virginia Hughes (Only Human), Brian Switek (Laelaps), Ed Yong (Not Exactly Rocket Science) and Carl Zimmer (The Loom).

The new network, assembled by the magazine's executive editor for science, Jamie Shreeve, is scheduled to debut on Tuesday, December 18.  It represents National Geographic's first serious move into the increasingly high-profile world of science blogging. (Although National Geographic acquired the old Scienceblogs network in 2011, it never showed any real enthusiasm for it).

But thanks to the quality of its debut bloggers, this new network, although small,  represents a...

Last week, I posted on the future of Discover magazine's blogs and bloggers, and the reassuring news seemed to be that nothing would change. It was reassuring because Discover's blog network is widely thought to be...

Last week, I posted on the future of Discover magazine's blogs and bloggers, and the reassuring news seemed to be that nothing would change. It was reassuring because Discover's blog network is widely thought to be among the best science blog networks anywhere.

"They set the standard for other bloggers," said David Dobbs, who blogs at Wired. "Anyone would like to move there, I think. They are one of the best supported logistically and financially, and it shows in the product."

My post last week addressed the quality of Discover's blog network. But since I posted it, several people have raised a different question: Will the compensation paid to Discover's bloggers change?

Kalmbach Publishing Co., Discover's owner, ...

I'm not eager to review the latest disclosures of offenses by the neuroscience writer and fabulist Jonah Lehrer, because, frankly, I'm too repelled by it. But if you're looking for a recap (and it's grim, I assure you), you can find it...

I'm not eager to review the latest disclosures of offenses by the neuroscience writer and fabulist Jonah Lehrer, because, frankly, I'm too repelled by it. But if you're looking for a recap (and it's grim, I assure you), you can find it on last Friday's edition of Tammy Powledge's excellent blog, On Science Blogs This Week. 

She also reviews the latest on the climate conversion of former skeptic Richard Muller, complete with charts, tables, and graphs. 

Powledge's blog--you can find the link every Friday on the home page of the National Association of Science Writers--should be essential reading. I always find something I would have been sorry to miss.

- Paul Raeburn

Why do so many bloggers begin with great enthusiasm only to abandon a few heartfelt posts to the sands of time?

Neuroskeptic, the neuroscience blogger,...

Why do so many bloggers begin with great enthusiasm only to abandon a few heartfelt posts to the sands of time?

Neuroskeptic, the neuroscience blogger, explains why those first weeks and months are so difficult:

The early days of any blog are psychologically tough because almost inevitably, your first posts are not going to get the recognition they deserve...That's because people tend to really pour their hearts into early posts - these are the ones that express thoughts you've been mulling over for ages and are finally writing about - and then inevitably, hardly anyone reads them...

The emergent blogger (I've been there more than once) is so happy to finally have a chance to say things from the heart, without a meddling...

All this time we've been looking in the wrong place! American women? Don't waste your time. It's been in Poland for decades, hiding inside the soft tissues of an 83-year-old Warsaw woman! Unfortunately, she's now deceased, and her G-spot has been carved up by a "cosmetic gynecologist."

No, you have...

All this time we've been looking in the wrong place! American women? Don't waste your time. It's been in Poland for decades, hiding inside the soft tissues of an 83-year-old Warsaw woman! Unfortunately, she's now deceased, and her G-spot has been carved up by a "cosmetic gynecologist."

No, you have not stumbled on to The Onion or The Daily Show. Here it is from Melissa Healy in the Los Angeles Times:

Like so many explorers before him, Dr. Adam Ostrzenski has long dreamed of finding a piece of elusive territory with a reputation for near-mythic powers. Ostrzenski's quarry is the G spot, the long-conjectured trigger for enhancing female orgasm. And in an article published Wednesday by the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the semi-retired Florida gynecologist declared that he had found it.

This is...

Last year, when I (@praeburn) came home from ScienceOnline2011 (#scio11), I told my wife, Elizabeth (@devitaraeburn) that it was the most exciting meeting I thought I'd ever attended. "The energy was incredible," I told her. "I got so many ideas. And I met all...

Last year, when I (@praeburn) came home from ScienceOnline2011 (#scio11), I told my wife, Elizabeth (@devitaraeburn) that it was the most exciting meeting I thought I'd ever attended. "The energy was incredible," I told her. "I got so many ideas. And I met all kinds of people whom I knew only from Twitter." I mentioned some and pointed her to their blogs. "You have to follow these people!" I said.

Many of them, I told her, were so excited about their writing that they were doing it for nothing other than the sheer joy of putting words to pixels. How they fed, clothed, and sheltered themselves was an obvious question, but few seemed to be starving, at least while the conference food was available; most were dressed, as far as I recall; and most seemed to have found a way to snag a room at the hotel. (I didn't see anything like an Occupy ScienceOnline tent city outside the hotel.) The 250 slots at last year's conference filled...