An editorial by UC Davis stem-cell researcher and associate professor Paul Knoepfler appears in the July 28 issue of the science journal Nature.
“My year as a stem-cell blogger,” describes how Knoepfler felt a void when Nature closed its stem-cell blog The Niche. A few days after the blog disappeared, Knoepfler was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer. Now in remission after successful treatment, he writes: “I found the courage to start a replacement. After all, how hard can blogging be when compared with facing cancer?”
Knoepfler explains that many scientists in academia worry that blogging could hurt their careers or generate negative or insulting comments that could hurt their reputations. In fact, he said, that even with the controversial nature of stem-cell science, the vast majority of responses to his blog postings have been positive. His varied audience has led to political and other efforts to advance stem-cell research, and Knoepfler acknowledges the refreshing difference between writing for a broad audience and writing for academic peer review.
Knoepfler also offers advice to would-be bloggers, suggesting, for example, that bloggers refrain from discussing their own institutions and using the blog to broadcast opinions unrelated to science.
He concludes by urging scientists to catch up to publishers in reacting to the ever-present world of social media and Internet blogs.
“Even if you choose not to blog, you can certainly expect that your papers and ideas will increasingly be blogged about,” Knoepfler writes. “So there it is — blog or be blogged.”
Knoepfler’s article appears at http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110727/full/475425a.html. He blogs at www.ipscell.com.