Science Review Blogs?




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Originally uploaded by bivAb.

Reading an article in First Monday about science publishing tickled an idea I’ve been meaning to post about.

One of my favorite parts about grad school and being a postdoc was that I got to learn about all kinds of cool science, through journal clubs, conferences, courses, and more.

I’ve not been good about keeping up to speed on the fields I was interested in since I left, in part because once you’re out of the loop, the only way to pick up on the shifts in science is to do a huge amount of reading of primary sources, whether that’s field-specific journals or more interdisciplinary journals like Nature and Science. Accessing that content costs significant amounts of money (or easy access to libraries), most of the articles contain way more detail than I really care about, and, with the exception of things like Nature’s News & Views, a lot of the information is presented without much context.

There are print options. While I read it occasionally, I find that Scientific American tends to have too long a time-constant, reflecting developments of the last decade or so, and doesn’t provide the depth that I’d like (also, way too much about physics!). I’ve been considering journals like American Scientist, but I suspect they’re too broad-spectrum for me. I’m most interested in the specific fields that I’ve had exposure to and understand some of the basics of (neuroscience, perception, cognition, HCI, etc), but I’d be equally keen to learn about new developments in other fields if they’re presented in non-specialist language. Ideally my ex-colleagues would just forward me the best bits, but somehow they seem a bit busy for that, and it doesn’t account for my particular tastes/interests.

All of which leads me to my question for the audience. Are there good blogs/feeds that could fit the bill? Ideally something with an editorial filter in place, not just “everything”. My ideal author is a tenured or retired scientist who gives the kind of perspective you’d get in a class. They must exist, but maybe they don’t blog yet…

4 Comments

  1. I’m also looking such blogs… but have you considered New Scientist (http://newscientist.com)? It is a weekly science publication. A lot of each issue is addressed to news from various scientific communities, but they also have interesting features and excellent commentaries, essays, etc. More focused on life science and physics, but still good.

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  2. You might want to talk to a few science librarians, e.g. the ones at UBC and SFU. Many academic librarians serve as liaison librarians for a number of related subject areas or disciplines, and it is their job to keep those parts of the library collection (books, journals and online sources) up to date, plus they keep the faculty and students of the relevant departments up to speed on how the library collection is adapting to meet their needs. Librarians have the same need to find information about new developments in their liaison subject areas that are in non-specialist language.

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