A few weeks ago there were a number of interesting posts floating around the web discussing the appropriateness of science blogging as a form of self-promotion (see this post by Scicurious for an excellent backgrounder) .  This is an issue that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about – communicating with people about our own research wasn’t the only reason that Peter and I got into blogging, but it was a very big part of it.  And it’s one of the main reasons why I advocate for researchers to get involved in social media.

Out of curiosity I put up a poll asking people whether they felt it was ok for a person to blog about their own research, and today I thought I would share those results (sorry for the longer than expected delay getting them posted).

The survey asked “Is it ok to blog about your own research?

The available options were:

1. Yes

2. Yes, but only if done using your real name

3. No

We had 34 responses which makes this an <sarcasm> extremely representative sample </sarcasm>.  What’s more, I have no idea of the background of those who responded, although they are likely people who follow either myself, Scicurious or Mr Epidemiology on twitter.  Here is how those responses broke down.

11 people (32.4% of respondents) stated unequivocally that yes, it is ok to blog about your own research.  I presume that these people don’t care whether you identify yourself as the study’s author in the post (something which would be impossible should you choose to use a pseudonym).  All 23 other respondents (67.6% of those who completed the survey) said that it is ok to blog about your own work, but only if you use your real name.  This is how I voted personally since I think this would prevent people from smearing their competition without disclosing their own conflict of interest, which is a concern that has been voiced by Drug Monkey.  Given that comment (and other similar comments that I’ve heard in the past), I was surprised that not a single person said that it was completely inappropriate to blog about your own work under any circumstances (it might be worth noting that the vote breakdown does seem to be in general agreement with the bulk of the comments on Sci’s original post).

Finally, a small minority of respondents added a few additional comments after the survey.  Here are a few:

If using a pseudonym you need to create the links; otherwise you are being a bit dishonest. Don’t like all this talk of ‘trashing your competitors’ though – that smacks of your field not doing actual science but just competing for funding…

 

I have a few rules I impose on myself: I only blog about specifics after the paper’s published. I don’t do anything that I think might hint of “prior publication.”

[the above pretty much perfectly describes the approach that Peter and I have taken at Obesity Panacea... I can't imagine that our current or previous supervisors would have been so indulgent with our blogging if we were scooping our own publications!]

I’ve never seen a difference between a blog post explaining your paper and a conference presentation, other than the content of your presentation will likely be ephemeral and not recorded and available indefinitely. If you’re research paints a contrasting picture to that of a colleague, as long as your data is available for comparison (i.e. published), then it shouldn’t where you discuss it.

Is there anyone out there who thinks it is inappropriate to blog about your own research under any circumstances?  Let me know why in the comments below.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the survey!

Travis