CTBTO Conference Travis’ Note: Today’s guest post is from the epic pseudonymous blogger Scicurious.  She is one of the founding members of the Scientopia network of science bloggers, where you can find her extremely interesting and popular blog Neurotic Physiology.  She has written previous Science of Blogging guest posts on how to start a science blog, and issues to consider when deciding whether to blog under a pseudonym.

A few weeks ago, Sci had an opportunity to blog the Experimental Biology 2011 Conference (my posts on it are here).  I’ll admit, I volunteered, but the organizers were wonderfully welcoming of a young blogger, and very pleased to have me on board.  And then Travis and Peter let me know that they were going to blog an upcoming conference, and asked for tips.  And TIPS.  Boy, do I have TIPS!  And they asked me to post them.  So below you will find the stuff that I did, along with various tips on how to keep up your energy, and how to make the scientists LOVE your blog.  But keep in mind.  These tips apply best to scientists who are blogging conferences in their field.  To journalists, not so much.

Before and during the conference, I did the following:

1) Went through the abstracts and found stuff I liked.  I narrowed it down by cool titles and then looked for abstracts that were good.  I made a real effort to get far outside my field, but stick to within your field if that’s what you prefer.

2) Emailed the contact people for each abstract (4 days before the meeting), asking them if they’d like their work at the conference to be blogged.  In the initial email I made a point to include my academic position and university, as well as links to my blog.  Each email was specific for their abstract, making it clear that I had read their abstract and was interested on a more than cursory level. Technically, this isn’t required, if something is presented at a conference, it’s public, but I know that many scientists don’t really feel that way, and I would much rather make friends than enemies.

3) When they got back to me (and they ALL did, no one said no, but everyone also said they’d scoped me out on my blog and on Google beforehand), I set up a time to meet with the presenter  Often the PI was present,especially if the student was younger.

4) I met with each group for 30 minutes.  During that time I asked about their work, took copious notes, and also had them run through the presentation.  I also took care to ask if there was anything in particular they wanted to emphasize.  A couple of times I had to get an interpreter (wonderful presenter from Brazil, she spoke no English, and I no Portuguese.  But we got through it!  And her science is awesome.).

5) I then went back, sat my butt down, ate many cookies, and wrote it up.  Before I posted it I sent it off to the authors of the study for approval, with a stated deadline of 12 hours (I told them during the interview when they would receive the post, and when I would need their edits back).  Don’t worry, they’ll get back to you.

6) When the post went live (with their edits, everyone sent at least minor edits), I sent them a link to it with a thank you note.  I have since ended up in several school and department newsletters and on some laboratory websites!

Tips for getting PIs and shy scientists to warm to you.

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