Science of Blogging
In the fall of 2008, Travis and I were growing increasingly disillusioned with our role as young researchers. We were publishing quality clinical research in respected peer-reviewed journals, but it largely felt as though our work was having little impact on society as a whole. Our work was occasionally cited, but it rarely reached anyone beyond fellow researchers. At the same time, we saw the public being bombarded with constant stream of scientific misinformation that was useless at best, and extremely harmful at worst. Thus, we began Obesity Panacea, a knowledge translation website and accompanying podcast that provide evidence-based information on obesity, nutrition, exercise, and health. In addition to running Obesity Panacea, we began engaging the public conversation on science and medicine via a number of other social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, ResearchBlogging, etc).
Shortly after creating Obesity Panacea, we began to realize just how useful social media could be in communicating science to researchers, policy makers, and the general public. Soon enough, the work we did on the blog began to make more of an impact than the scientific papers we published in medical journals. While our published work may have been cited just half a dozen times, discussing that research on the blog, and then promoting that work via social media resulted in thousands of people becoming aware of the implications of our work within a single day.
Once we had been blogging regularly for about a year, we also began being interviewed for newspapers and magazines, appearing on radio, and television. In early 2010, we were invited to join the prestigious ScienceBlogs network, and as of September 1, 2010 we began blogging for the new PLoS Blogs network.
In short, the use of social media has given us a tremendous outlet by which to translate and promote scientific knowledge and engage the public discourse. We strongly believe that all scientists, researchers, clinicians, government and not-for-profit organizations have much to gain by adopting an effective and viable social media strategy.
Science of Blogging will not only highlight the ways by which social media is changing the way science and research is communicated, but also will provide basic guidelines for those individuals or organizations who seek to use social media to increase the public understanding of scientific research.
Dr. Peter Janiszewski, Ph.D. is a published obesity researcher, a science and medical writer, and a thought leader in the use of new media in scientific knowledge translation. Peter has published numerous studies, reviews and commentaries in prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals and has presented his research at various international scientific conferences. To aid in the dissemination of scientific knowledge, Peter also contributes articles for the popular press, health newsletters, and has appeared in magazines, national newspapers and radio.
Travis Saunders is a Certified Exercise Physiologist, PhD student, and active researcher in the areas of obesity, fitness, and health. He is especially interested in the ways that media can be used to communicate science to both professional and lay audiences.