I’ve started something new in my research group (which is co-led by Emily Rice): we are blogging our science results as they happen. Individual plots and incremental progress and insights. A curated, collaborative lab notebook. I haven’t posted anything yet, but the students have: BDNYC Research Blog.
The primary audience for our new blog is current and future group members and serves as a repository for information that would otherwise be lost as students leave the group. Anytime a student figures out something that will be generally useful, I tell them to post it. Not only does blogging it preserve the information, it also gets the student to write it up! And for most people, the stress associated with writing a blog post is much lower than writing up nearly anything else, save maybe a status update. The idea is that this kind of casual writing will not only provide fodder for future papers, but will also help the students develop a healthy relationship with writing.
I also think our group research blog will prove useful to my collaborators and other researchers and students who are interested in our work and/or doing something similar. Students learning spectroscopy and Python might learn some tips. Once I do post a micro-result (is that a new word?), I will then circulate the post to my colleagues as a pre-publication “soft-lauch” so that we can discuss it while I’m still thinking about it, rather than after I have grown to hate the paper and am not inclined to do more analysis regardless of how good of suggestions I might get.
To answer your first question: I’m not worried about scoop threat. What I’m doing is interesting, but not super-competitive and I don’t think that anyone else has the datasets to do the types of analysis we’re doing.
I’m also super interested to find out who else might already be doing this! Let me know in the comments and I’ll update the Blogs by Astronomers wiki page and maybe add some categories.
So, what do you think? Would blogging your results help you write more? Do you think it would be useful for your students? Could you imagine putting your results out there fresh off the press?