Active science outreach is hugely important today, and with many social media outlets it has become much easier for scientists to get the word out about the topics that they know well and find interesting. Blogs provide a particularly convenient format for timely pieces with multiple images and numerous links for explanations and background details. And more than some other micro-platforms blogs can offer sufficient detail to provide a complete story. Other shorter forms are great for sharing news or tips for good reading–but blogs have become widely used as a mechanism to convey longer form essays to share knowledge. A great assessment of science blogs and their history was just offered by Bora Zivkovik.
Increasingly social media outreach is being acknowledged as effective to spread information about research topics. A recent item showed that outreach that included bloggers drove downloads and citations of new papers (hat tip William Gunn on G+). This can help drive traditional metrics of impact that are useful for researchers’ professional goals. In addition, though, there is also building pressure on the science management infrastructure to recognize the value of outreach in non-traditional publications such as blogging. Altmetrics are being gathered and used as further ways to measure impact of researcher’s output and contributions to the science community and the broader public as well. It would be great to see these alternative outreach strategies recognized as valuable for grants and tenure situations, as well as being great for the public discussion opportunity.
So this week’s tip highlights one way that science bloggers can broaden the reach of their blogs: the ScienceSeeker aggregator. If you are writing on science topics, and if you are commenting on peer-reviewed publications, you can send your blog feed to a blog aggregator. An aggregator collects posts from a wide range of blogs, and makes them available in one place for readers to explore. You can use the aggregator to locate other blogs of interest to you in your field. And readers all over the world can use the aggregator to find excellent content.
You can learn about the ScienceSeeker goals and the development team here. This team is working hard on making the software foundations smooth and effective for you to use to enable the communications to get distributed widely. They are continuing to add new features as well, so you may notice some changes over time. But today in the video I’ll show some of the basic aspects of using ScienceSeeker as an effective channel to get the word out about topics you care about in science. Sign up and start writing!
In the video I mention the ways to get going, but I didn’t have time to cover everything. So let me summarize here:
Step 1: Create a login for yourself by registering. From the left navigation area you’ll see the place to access that. Once you have registered you can log in for the next part, and in the future you use this to access the way to sweep your blog for new posts if you want to bring something over right away.
Step 2: Add a new blog. From the top navigation area you can add the feed for your blog. This is how ScienceSeeker will find your new posts and bring them over. You will get a bit of code to put into your blog to make the connection–you’ll have to log into your own blog to do this piece. There will be some instructions on the ScienceSeeker page to help you.
Step 3. Once you have put in the code at your blog, and the ScienceSeeker site has made the handshake, your blog can be “claimed”. You go into your account you made in step 1 and associate your blog with your registration. If your blog has multiple authors, they can all create registrations and they can also claim your blog at this point. You can also add multiple blogs if you blog in several places.
Step 4. Write! Post items to your blog and periodically the ScienceSeeker system will sweep your blog. Your posts will become part of the ScienceSeeker displays. All regular posts go in the main feed on the main page. But if in addition you have a citation attached to your piece, the posts can go to the special “Posts with Citations” section. This helps people specifically find posts on peer-reviewed research.
Optional: Step 5–generate a citation and include it in your blog post. All posts come over to the ScienceSeeker system. But if you want to add a paper citation do that with the “Generate Citation” navigation option. Get the code from ScienceSeeker (it will look like this; click to embiggen):
Then you paste it into your blog. Here’s an example of our blog–a WordPress style. We use the HTML tab to paste the citation into our post. This may vary on other blogging platforms. But here’s what it looks like on ours:
There’s certainly more to explore over there–but we hope this gets you started. If you aren’t blogging you can use the ScienceSeeker site to find things to read. But certainly we’d love to see you in the conversation. Join us!
One other nifty aspect of this outreach:
OpenHelix worked with the ScienceSeeker team and with Elsevier to make the ScienceSeeker system integrated with the SciVerse literature interface. If you have access to SciVerse you can add the ScienceSeeker app to your interface. In the video I highlight this, but here’s an example image. If you add the app you can look at papers and see if they have been blogged (and here’s the sample paper I show; my app is added, you would have to add to yours). You can also use the app to search ScienceSeeker for additional relevant content or generate the citation code when you find awesome papers to comment on. The DOI for the paper of that page is loaded, but you could swipe that out and put any DOI in to get the citation code. Note: If the app is not live today in the Applications Gallery it will be very soon and you can add it to your SciVerse settings. I’ll update this when I see it live and available.
Update 1: Bora Zivkovik wanted to know if people were aware that the “handshake” step was editorial approval. Here’s what he says:
So the blog archive is examined to ensure that there is suitable content–not just any blog gets accepted. Thanks to Bora for the details.
Quick link to ScienceSeeker: http://scienceseeker.org/
Van Eperen, L. & Marincola, F.M. (2011). How scientists use social media to communicate their research, Journal of Translational Medicine, 9 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1479-5876-9-199
Mathelus, S., Pittman, G. & Yablonski-Crepeau, J. (2012). Promotion of research articles to the lay press: a summary of a three-year project, Learned Publishing, 25 (3) 212. DOI: 10.1087/20120307