Love them or loathe them, there's no denying that life sciences blogs are having an influence on the way researchers communicate about issues that matter to them. With the number of blogs steadily growing, though, newcomers to the life science blogosphere could be forgiven for finding it difficult to discover the must-read blogs in their particular area. Apart from one analysis of the most popular science blogs
last year, and an anthology of some of the best blog posts in 2006
, there's really no guide to help inform you about what blogs you should be reading if you are interested in exploring the blogosphere.
So, we at The Scientist
are asking you to help compile the first list of the best life science blogs. Tell us what your favorite life science blogs are and why by clicking the button and leaving a comment, and we will publish a list of the most popular choices across the different areas of life sciences. With your help we hope to provide a list of who is currently hot in the science blogosphere, and why you should be reading them.
To start things off, we've asked some of the best known science bloggers to nominate some of their favorite blogs. Add to the list by posting your choices here
, and these will appear below the list in the comments section.
In the spirit of blog-like openness, we hope people discuss their favorite science blogs elsewhere. If people on your blog are having an interesting discussion thread about this, then post
a link to that page, and we'll count those suggestions too.
: Written by Orac, a physician-scientist who is a rare surgeon holding a NIH R01 grant This highly-trafficked blog covers all aspects of medicine, often with a cancer emphasis, and stresses critical thinking in the face of pseudoscience, very often with biting precision.
In The Pipeline
: Written by Derek Lowe, a pharmaceutical chemist in the industry who provides unique insights into Pharma. Although the focus is on chemistry, Lowe provides many general lessons in mentoring and career choices.
Adventures in Ethics and Science
: Written by San Jose State University assistant professor Janet Stemwedel who holds dual PhDs in physical chemistry and philosophy. Janet writes with thoughtful clarity on ethical conundrums in science, the challenges of women in science and engineering, and K-12 science education.
[Disclaimer: Although I recommended two fellow bloggers at ScienceBlogs, I was reading both long before we were all asked to join the community]
Bora Zivkovic (a.k.a. Coturnix)
A Blog Around The Clock
Paring down the number to three is a very difficult task -- my blogroll has hundreds of life-science blogs and I have listed some of my favorites (most but not all life-science) here
. I suspect that most people will nominate a small number of most popular blogs, so here are some smaller, less-well-known, but delightful blogs I've been enjoying recently:
My three favorite blogs are not the result of any systematic survey of the blogosphere, just what has gotten snagged in my RSS feeds during my random search. In no order:
: PZ Myers, the author of this blog, dedicates a lot of posts to politics and religion. But his posts on evolution, development, and cephalopod sex are invariably excellent.
: Probably the best melding of traditional science media with the blog format.
Tree of Life
: A highly personal blog from biologist Jonathan Eisen on genomics, phylogeny, and open access.
[Editor's note: CZ has also contributed articles to Scientific American, both in print and online]
Which blogs do I turn to each day? To be honest, I look at a couple of dozen, and I look at each of them more than once. Why? I'm always curious to find newly unearthed stories (whether it's an originally reported scoop or a link to one); fresh insights into important topics, and a dollop of irreverence. For me, a good blog has a mix of all three, but will also post frequently. More blogs offer these virtues all the time, so choosing just three is difficult. But over the past few months, I would say the following trio are consistent must-reads for what I do and enjoy....
: The sly Insider may be anonymous, but we know he's an experienced industry marketing veteran and speaks with the kind of authority that makes clear he's seen it all -- and more. Sure, he can be all over the map with music, political videos and posts that some may find sexist. But Jack Friday -- his nom de pharma -- has a knack for finding cutting-edge items to read and watch. And he has a wicked sense of humor, which is often what's needed to digest some of the news.
The Health Blog from the Wall Street Journal
: This blog is a bit of an odd duck. The voice is constrained because the site hews very closely to the tone of the newspaper. As a result, there's little personality, but what makes the site worthwhile is the regular supply of fresh news and analysis. And this is helped along by contributions from WSJ staffers. As a result, this sometimes reads like an extension of the mothership. But the posts -- which veer back and forth between hardcore pharma news and a wide array of health items -- are often timely and reliable.
: The doc doesn't blog so much as aggregate. But he's a darned good aggregator. He has a sharp eye for interesting and amusing tales that offer a much-needed peek into the machinations of the medical community. The posts are typically introduced with a pithy line before a link takes you elsewhere. But the variety, frequency and volume of posts makes for an educating and, often, entertaining visit. This is the place to go to learn what doctors are thinking and saying about patients, insurers, drugmakers and even each other.
Newamul Khan (a.k.a. Razib)
: Translates scientific concepts from a field which everyone thinks they understand intuitively, psychology, and makes it genuinely comprehensible to those outside the field.
: A targeted focus on the area of evolution & genetics which has an appeal to both those with a deep interest in the topic as well someone just browsing and taste testing. A definite "value added" to a discipline with broad appeal and relevance.
: No question, the "must read" weblog for anyone interested in human evolution. Covers the gamut of the field, from bones to genes.
: First rate evolutionary biology and biochemistry from a strongly opinionated curmudgeon.
Creek Running North
: A nature writer's blog, and a very writerly blog it is, that combines humor and a love of the environment.
: Enthusiastic grad student in molecular biology with a ferocious view of creationism.
There are so many more... I have a long list here
, every one of them deserving.
Instead of picking three individual blogs, I'd like to mention three topic-related branches of blogs or blog aggregators, referring this way to many individual bloggers and a larger amount of information and information filters. The groups are: a) science blogs written by scientists, b) science related blogs written by journalists and editors, and c) technology and web related blogs written by "alpha geeks and early adopters."
a. science blogs written by scientists:
: Chris Patil, postdoc in Judith Campisi's lab at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, reviews articles on the biology of aging, also called biogerontology. The model for Ouroboros was Science Magazine's SAGE KE
: Alex Palazzo, a postdoc at Harvard Medical School, very good mix of hardcore science and general science related material.
b. science related blogs written by journalists: My main sources are blogs of the Nature Publishing Group, which fortunately has an aggregator site called Planet Nature
. Out of those my three favorites are:
: Written by Natureplex people (Nature Web Publishing Group) like Timo Hannay and Euan Edie, on the forefront of the advanced scientific web.
: Maxine Clarke, Nature's Publishing Executive Editor shares with us insider NPG information at an amazing pace, answering all the questions in the comment section.
: The stem cell blog behind Nature Reports Stem Cells
, written by professional journalists and editors Monya Baker and Natalie DeWitt. (Disclaimer: one of my pieces was published at The Niche once)
c. technology and Web-related blogs written by "alpha geeks, early adopters, hackers":
: A group blog of the O'Reilly publishing folks concentrating on everything new and early and free in Web technology. Main blogger is Tim O'Reilly, Web 2.0 founding father.
: Home of amazing and sometimes pretty useful DIY projects, main blogger is Philip Torrone. Belongs to O'Reilly Media Inc.
Editor's note (September 24): A few life science bloggers have correctly pointed out that no female bloggers are represented above. While this is not intentional -- several female bloggers were contacted for the article -- it is regrettable and in no way reflective of our opinions here at The Scientist. Help us to redress any apparent imbalances, whether it be gender, or other lesser-discussed disparities like geographical location and ethnicity, by adding suitable nominations to the growing list below.
Additional links in this article:
"Top five science blogs," Nature News
, July 5, 2006.
B. Zivkovik, "The Open Laboratory: The Best Writing on Science Blogs 2006."