A General Overview of reddit’s Science Communities
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Victoria Taylor, director of communications for reddit. Taylor’s job is to work with “the media, talent, organizations and others that want to optimize their interactions with the reddit community.” For an introduction to reddit, see my beginner's guide to reddit.
Are you someone in the STEM fields, or an enthusiast on scientific related topics? If so, you may be familiar with some of reddit’s science communities. Redditors love science and as such, there are many communities on the site (known as “subreddits”) that focus on helping share, focus and refine scientific discourse and debate. Here’s a quick overview.
Let’s start out with the default scientific subreddits:
Size: 5,861,413 readers
What it is: The largest of reddit’s science communities, /r/Science encompasses conversations and submissions related to all areas of scientific inquiry and study, and also includes its “Science AMA series” which has become a notable function lately. AMA stands for “ask me anything,” and is essentially a live question and answer session hosted on reddit. (More on this below.)
Who it’s for: Anyone who’s interested in learning more about science!
Size: 783,814 readers
What it is: A community that “is dedicated to the insightful and thoughtful discussion of outer space.”
Who it’s for: Anyone who is interested in discussing cosmology, space, astronomy, and similar scientific subjects related to space & the universe.
Size: 2,967,527 readers
What it is: A space on reddit where the community is encouraged to ask science-related questions about everything from evolution to chemistry, and answers are held to a high standard that includes citations to peer-reviewed sources whenever possible.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants to ask questions on reddit and get real scientific answers.
And get a bit more niche from there:
Size: 39,497 readers
What it is: A community for medical professionals (both physicians and students) to be able to connect and discuss professional matters, and laypeople are invited to be able to ask questions.
Who it’s for: All of the above – medical professionals, medical students, and those who wish to learn about medicine from those perspectives.
Size: 97,019 readers
What it is: A subreddit that’s been created with physicists, scientists and those who are physics enthusiasts in mind.
Who it’s for: Those who work in, or are interested in, learning more about physics in all its forms of study.
Size: 102,749 readers
What it is: All things astronomy are welcome here!
Who it’s for: Stargazers both professional and amateur are welcome in in this space, which includes submissions ranging from videos, to photos, to question threads.
Size: 93,267 readers
What it is: A directory of all topics health-related, with a particular focus on breaking health-related news, this subreddit features an extensive sidebar of other subreddits that can be more condition-specific (i.e. dementia or diabetes).
Who it’s for: Those who want to discuss the latest in health news and research with like-minded peers.
Size: 121,509 readers
What it is: This subreddit functions as a general discussion forum for news, issues and information related to the environment – from pesticides to climate change.
Who it’s for: Those who want to specifically focus on environmental discussions and news.
Size: 7,229 readers
What it is: This subreddit focuses on the study of neuroscience and all things neuroscience related.
Who it’s for: Those studying the field professionally or personally, and random neuroscience related questions as well!
Size: 4,246 readers
What it is: This community is devoted all things cancer – from personal anecdotes of survival and loss to news and research advances. It also features an extensive guide to other subreddits that can offer support and resources to those affected by the condition.
Who it’s for: Anyone affected by cancer or interested in learning more about cancer research, news, and advice.
Size: 32,214 readers
What it is: The study of humans, past and present, is the focus of /r/Anthropology – which means discussions on both new and old research articles, as well as community discussion and questions.
Who it’s for: Those interested in studying anthropology, culture, and all things related to the subject matter – from culture digital and physical to language.
Size: 4,590 readers
What it is: All things excavated – from dinosaurs to sea scorpions! This subreddit tends to lean towards outward links.
Who it’s for: People who want to discuss everything form fossils to new developments in the field of paleontology.
Size: 1,523 readers
What it is: Anyone interested in studying the patterns of health and illness as associated with factors related to population. Tends to be lots of statistics and healthcare related information.
Who it’s for: Anyone interested in digging into the study or science behind epidemics!
Size: 5,212 readers
What it is: Questions and focused discussions on mathematics, with an eye towards study, education, supporting others in the same career path, and the mathematics community.
Who it’s for: Anyone who’s passionate about math or improving their own understanding of the field.
Size: 48,827 readers
What it is: A general subreddit for all things chemistry, /r/Chemistry includes resources for those who are studying the subject at the graduate and undergraduate level, but tends to focus on the fun or community-oriented aspects of the subject.
Who it’s for: Anyone interested in chemistry from a professional or educational perspective.
Size: 57,872 readers
What it is: From genetics to evolution, /r/Biology is a very active community that includes posts ranging from news to discussions to requests for advice! /r/Biology is also open to image submissions of interesting new species as well as questions from the community.
Who it’s for: Those working in or studying a field of biology, as well as those interested in learning more about the subject.
Size: 149,183 readers
What it is: This particular community is focused on sharing and connecting around psychological articles, news and studies that are based in science. With submissions coded in ways as to callout press releases versus journal articles versus popular press pieces and blog posts, /r/Psychology is very thorough in helping guide and channel discussions related to the subject.
Who it’s for: Anyone interested in learning more about psychology with a serious basis!
Size: 20,637 readers
What it is: A community devoted to the scientific study of the origin, history, and structure of the earth.
Who it’s for: Geologists, geology students, and anyone interested in the field!
Size: 71,208 readers
What it is: A community of engineers and those interested in engineering connecting about everything from career advice to standard equipment needs.
Who it’s for: Anyone who is interested in learning more about engineering personally or professionally, or who is looking for a good directory of resources for engineers.
And if we want to get a bit off the beaten path –
Size: 178,994 readers
Who it’s for: for those who want to laugh out loud at quandaries that definitely wouldn’t make sense for /r/AskScience.
Size: 4,087 readers
What it is: A subreddit devoted to exactly what it’s called – jokes about physics!
Who it’s for: Anyone who enjoys a good laugh that’s solidly grounded.
Size: 9,923 readers
What it is: A community devoted to imaginary views of space & constellations – starscapes!
Who’s it for: Those who enjoy beautiful works of art with a fantastical twist.
There are hundreds if not thousands of science subreddits, so to see if there’s a science subreddit that relates to your interest or specific articles focused on a topic you’re interested in, we suggest doing a quick reddit search. Here’s how.
Let’s do a quick sample search for “science.” If you go to the upper right hand corner of reddit.com, you’ll find a search box where you can type in any term, name, or query:
Then hit “enter.” This will bring up a list of results, which you can then sort further by various details such as relevance, and timeliness:
Let’s say that we decide to go with JUST the results from /r/Science and just those results that were generated within the past week – we’ll then get the below screen of results:
This can give you a great idea of when and where discussions are taking place about a topic you might be interested in – from molecular biology to chemical reactions!
How you can be a good reddit scientific community member
Before jumping into the dialogue on a specific subreddit by commenting or submitting links, you should read the right-hand sidebar of each subreddit’s rules & Wiki – so for /r/Science you will see on the right-hand sidebar these rules:
When you click on the hyperlinks, you’re brought to this landing page that lists out these major bullets:
- Every submission must be a direct link to or a summary of peer-reviewed research with appropriate citations.
- Summaries of summaries are not allowed.
- Based on recent scientific research. The research linked to should be within the past 6 months (or so)
- Not editorialized, sensationalized, or biased. This includes both the submission and its title.
- Not blogspam, an image, video or an infographic.
- Not a repost. If an alternate report based on the same research has been submitted, please submit your article as a comment to one of the current submissions.
And these are just the rules for submissions! There are additional sets of rules for commenting. And each scientific subreddit has its own set of policies for both – so that what is welcome in one might not be welcome in another. Certain subreddits also have custom “flair” or customizing images next to submitter’s names – like in this example:
If you’re a scientist or expert in a specific field and want to have custom and appropriate flair in a certain subreddit, you can contact the moderators to learn more about obtaining that custom flair and by checking out http://www.reddit.com/r/science/wiki/flair
then reach out to the mods accordingly for next steps! Science AMAs are open to any practicing research scientist or group of scientists who want to openly lead conversations with the reddit community. There is only one Science AMA per day that is held, so you will want to check the upcoming calendar of events to make sure that your calendar & their calendar align. Past examples of great science AMAs include:
We hope this general guide helped provide a helpful overview of the types of scientific dialogue and communities on reddit, and that you choose to jump into the discussion yourself!
Note: All screen capture images provided by Taylor.