Science Blogging and Citations

Posted 31 October 2014 by Matt Shipman

Paige Brown Jarreau, author of the SciLogs blog From The Lab Bench, recently wrote a lengthy post on the science of science blogging. The post included a lengthy list of related journal articles, and one of them caught my eye: “Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations?” With Paige’s blessing, I decided to unpack that particular paper a bit. The full title of the paper is “Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future... Read more

Twitter, Analytics, and the Frustration of Silence

Posted 14 January 2014 by Matt Shipman

This (short) post is not explicitly about science communication. It's more about the lack of communication. But I'm hoping that maybe, finally, it will help me get some feedback from Twitter. (Note: this post has been updated. See bottom of story.) I write, and speak, fairly often on subjects related to communication metrics: how we measure the impact of our blogs, social media, etc. I'm currently working on two large(ish) projects that deal explicitly with social media metrics. So it... Read more

What Twitter May Be Able to Tell Us (in Advance) about Citations

Posted 7 June 2013 by Matt Shipman

Social media platforms allow people to exchange information, including scientific information. That’s one reason many scientists are active on social media. I just read a paper (not new, but new to me) that suggests social media – particularly Twitter – may actually also serve as something of a crystal ball for predicting the scientific impact of journal articles. I read a recent post by entomology researcher Cameron Webb on whether social media can increase the exposure of newly-published research. (It’s... Read more

Who Reads Communication Breakdown?

Posted 25 April 2013 by Matt Shipman

Communication Breakdown has been around for more than six months now. And while you've had the chance to learn a lot about me, I don't know a lot about you. The first step in Communication 101 is to know your audience, and it's time I did that. I pulled together a brief survey to help me learn more about my readers and figure out what I can do to make Communication Breakdown better. Please take a moment to fill out... Read more

Let’s Find Out What Science Outreach Can Accomplish

Posted 15 February 2013 by Matt Shipman

[Note: This post first ran Feb. 13 on Nature's Soapbox Science blog.] Many people, including me, will tell you that science outreach is important. This is nothing new. The public lectures of Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday are thought of as crucial elements in the popularization of science in the 19th century, and they are as likely to be remembered for those outreach efforts as they are for their scientific contributions (which were considerable). But here’s the thing – we can’t prove it. Scientists pride... Read more

We Studied a Zoo: How Two Studies Assessed Outreach Impact

Posted 11 February 2013 by Matt Shipman

At the ScienceOnline conference earlier this month, I was bemoaning the dearth of literature evaluating the impact of science outreach activities. Luckily, Mun Keat Looi was part of this conversation, and he steered me to a 2012 paper he thought I’d find interesting. He was right. The paper, “Assessing Public Engagement with Science in a University Primate Research Centre in a National Zoo,” was published in April 2012 by PLOS ONE. The authors note in the opening lines of their... Read more

Art as a Science Communication Tool: I Need Your Help

Posted 4 February 2013 by Matt Shipman

Visual art has the power to inspire, provoke and fascinate. I know some incredibly talented artists that focus on scientific subjects, and I think their work is a beautiful and valuable science communication tool – but I'm having a hard time quantifying that value. So I want you to help me out. As a flack, I primarily use art (still images or video) to draw attention to a story. I rarely (if ever) use it to help tell a story... Read more

Communication 101

Posted 5 November 2012 by Matt Shipman

If we’re going to be talking about science communication, it's worthwhile to have a brief overview of communication basics. I have a hunch I'll be linking back to this post a lot. Step One: Know Your Audience Who, exactly, are you trying to reach? This is the first step because it will affect everything else you do. For example, if you are an entomologist, and you want to reach an audience of your fellow entomologists, you can write in technical... Read more

Unconventional Metrics: How Can I Tell If My Blog Is Working?

Posted 28 October 2012 by Matt Shipman

So you started a blog to give yourself a place to write about science. You’re using social media to push your posts out, and you know that some people are reading them. But how can you tell if you’re reaching the people you want to reach? And, more importantly, are you any closer to achieving your communication goals? On Oct. 27, I was part of a panel at the National Association of Science Writers meeting in Raleigh, N.C., that addressed... Read more