I am returning to active writing on this blog after a hiatus of nearly 9 months. Not coincidentally, this is also the period of my academic year as a university professor that followed starting up the blog last summer 2012. This is when my work as a classroom teacher, research mentor, and professional colleague all took precedence over my contributions to the blog. This is regrettable, and unacceptable, as the purpose of a blog, I think, ought to be regular postings to stimulate continuing conversations, in this case, about public science. But also it is unnecessary, as there is no reason why my work on Dissecting Public Science should have lower priority than other activities in my professional life.
After all, I consider my writing and research on public science to be a distinct part of my continuing scholarship as an academic scientist, along with my laboratory research on olfaction and my pedagogical research on classroom technology. But perhaps that’s the rub. In approaching my blog posts as scholarship, I usually am engaging in a time-consuming process of research, fact-checking, and editing that prohibits timeliness. After all, “dissecting” requires careful attention to detail. And I can be rather obsessive-compulsive about research and writing, as my colleagues, students and family know well.
Yet, public science is anchored in journalism, which is often fast paced and can’t wait for too much depth. While I would prefer science journalism to be more scholarly at times, I recognize that events often move too quickly for that. Daily deadlines and competition to be first proscribe depth, or at least interfere with work on anything else that day. Comprehensiveness comes later, upon reflection and more extensive research.
So, what’s a scholarly blogger to do? I’ve decided to follow the suggestion of my daughter Amy, who is editor of this blog, to institute regular “What We’re Reading” posts, every week or so, that will give short comments on a small set of recent articles that deserve more attention (including here, in subsequent, more elaborate essays on the blog). At the very least, this will keep the blog reasonably current, and provide a hint of more expansive things to come.