An important part of a researcher’s life is the preparation of manuscripts for the publication of research results in peer-reviewed science journals. Generation of new knowledge is only possible if research results are visible to the scientific community and placed into context. For the scientist, publications are essential to build one’s own reputation in the scientific community, to get in touch with other scientists working in the same research area, and to acquire funding for new research projects. However, publication in journals comes with several difficulties: The publication process can easily take several months, published papers are not necessarily openly available to all interested readers due to paywalls, and often these papers are not understandable for non-experts.
The keyword for getting research accessible to a broader audience is “Public Outreach”. As scientists, we have an obligation to explain to the taxpayers and private funding organizations what we actually do with their money and why this is relevant for society. For me as an ecologist, it is important to make people aware of the complex interactions taking place in ecosystems, to raise awareness of how human actions can change ecosystems, and sometimes to simply show people the beauty of nature. People can only respect and value something that they know and understand.
Nowadays, it is already mandatory for many funding proposals to prepare a (convincing) public outreach plan. One example is the European Union Research and Innovation programme – Horizon 2020. Scientists can find several guidelines regarding public outreach (e.g. this one) online. One good tool for getting in touch with a broader audience is a science blog – if the blog writer has a talent for it. One can interact with people regardless of location and time of the day.
I always enjoy reading good science blogs, but so far, I have shied away from writing one myself. However, recently, I was granted funds from Horizon 2020, and in my project proposal I wrote that I would blog about the proposed project “CH4ScarabDetect”. So here it is: my first blog post!
You will find new posts here about every two weeks throughout the duration of the project. On the next post, I am going to introduce you to my new research subjects: cockchafer larvae (nicknamed “soil cows” – you’ll find out why in that very blog post!). For now, you can find a first overview of the project here.
I hope you will find this blog useful (or, at least, entertaining) and I would be delighted to receive your questions, comments, or any other kind of feedback.