A blog about free research software, alternative to commercial paid software.

One way to help people is to share your knowledge with those who could benefit from it. As a researcher , constant effort to solve scientific problems have exposed me to various scientific resources that can be accessed free of charge. Especially these knowledge is useful to labs and institution unable to access expensive software or novice users due to lack of expertise. In this blog, I have provided a comprehensive list of freely available softwares, alternative to commercial software. I shall share with you all that I have learned, as I make the changes or learn something new, I shall document them. Hope this blog will help those finding the way………….

Research software and books

Mar 7, 2011

Science blogger vs Scientist blogger: The debate continues…

This issue has been covered by many posts, probably many times. Let’s analyze the view of prominent blog authors on this topic.

Most of the science blogs that we see today are not necessarily by professional scientist. So you have the science blogs by Writers/authors/ Journalists who may have experience and a degree in science, so called type I bloggers. And there are blogs by researchers /scientist who from their busy schedule take time off to write science for general audience (TypeII).

The post by “Highly Allochthonous” draw our attention to two research papers in the journal “Nature” on the affects of human-caused global warming on extreme precipitation events. Here are the first lines of each of those features.

“The varying distribution of fresh water across the globe, involving complex patterns of rainfall in space and time, crucially affects the ecosystems and infrastructure on which human societies depend”

“Climate change may be hitting home.”

It is not difficult to make out which of those stories was written by an academic scientist and which was written by a science writer. Reading both the sentence carefully you will find both have strength and weakness (Read more). There are plenty of other examples where in which these differences in the culture of written expression between scientist and science writers can be seen.

Let’s analyze the situation in sufficient detail. A scientist is someone who does scientific research for living, publishes in peer-reviewed journals and often funded by granting agencies. Once a research paper is published in a peer reviewed journal it is read by audience from related field. Often, the audience of research article is limited to researchers working in the same niche area. Other ways of communication is through conferences and other events; again the interaction is limited to peers. Now suppose a scientist publishes path breaking finding in a reputed journal then the scenario is different. Here the story is picked up by a science journalist to make it a news headlines in major newspapers and science magazine. So the point to note is that a scientist in general is no way in direct communication with larger audience other than peers.

A good scientist must make an effort to communicate his work to peers as well as larger audience. Engaging the ‘wisdom of the crowds” can help a scientist in many ways. Blogs serve as a nice platform to publically work through ideas and receive critical commentary that would ever be not possible only with peer review. Discussing published article online can have remarkable impact and increase the visibility of your research work. The best example is the Blog “Cognitive daily” with 100,000 page views a month. This by far has more views than for a book or high impact research publication in the same area. It is matter of time, that research blogging will eventually give rise to new breed of scientist writers, who can write peer reviewed research article as well as write article explaining the practical application or the advancement in knowledge that his research has contributed to wider nonscientific audience .