Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I haven't posted here in awhile, since I'm not exactly a blogger by nature and am thinking about turning this blog in to a sort of virtual journal club where a paper of interest is proposed weekly or bi-weekly and then people post comments discussing that paper. I don't think I have many regular readers but feedback would be appreciated.


Mario Pineda-Krch said...

Dan, a virtual journal club is something I would be interested in seeing and participating in. I have been thinking along similar lines for my own blog but I still haven't figured out the best format for this.

Regarding lack of regular readers. I think a good strategy would be 1) find a niche (i.e. well defined topic(s) for the journal club), 2) be persistent and patient (i.e. keep posting away and the audience/participants will come), and 3) get the word out there (i.e. put the word out on other blogs, evoldir, ecolog, ...).

I have always been involved in departmental journal clubs wherever I happen to be at the moment and I think a virtual and global journal club like this biology would be really cool and quite possibly very rewarding. Often face-to-face journal clubs lead is a great way to network and start collaborative efforts.

-DG said...

Thanks Mario, I think it would be a good idea as well. I attend several journal clubs, or journal club style meetings, regularly here as well. My personal interest is of course Computational Molecular Evolution with a focus on the evolution of structure and function of proteins. Although that may be a little too limited since I also have pretty broad generic tastes as well and would be interested in discussing papers in Evolutionary Psychology, Evolutionary Ecology, etc.

If you are interested in helping with this project that would be great. In terms of format I was thinking that a new article every two weeks or so would be good with a rotating group of people proposing a paper. Perhaps that would help with diversity. It wouldn't be as niche oriented but maybe it would attract a broader audience. It can be interesting to get the perspective of people outside of a small field sometimes.

The main discussion could perhaps also rotate through several different blogs on a periodic basis with member blogs always providing a short post and link to whatever blog is hosting the discussion that particular day.

Mario Pineda-Krch said...

Since we seem to have largely overlapping ideas jumping into this together may be a sensible approach.

It looks like our common interests lie within the sphere of EEB sensu lato. I think keeping the topic EEB related while not too niche specific would make it easier to attract audience and participants.

I agree that if we want to attract a broader audience we might want to think about recruiting a few more people that would be part of the initial core group proposing papers and seeding the discussion on a rotating basis. What about trying to involve some faculty members?

As to the location of this virtual journal club. It could rotate (the way you propose), but then one would have to keep tabs on the involved blogs and where the current discussions are taking place (which, of course, is relatively easy with RSS feeds/readers). Alternatively the journal club could have a dedicated blog page. In Blogger one can add multiple authors that can post to a specific blog (the caveat being that we may end up with administrative overhead). We could also be bold and try to contact Nature to see if we could use their blog infrastructure for the journal club, e.g. as part of the Nature Journal Club or as a separate blog under the umbrella of the Nature blogosphere. It might be easier to spread the word around this way.

-DG said...

That sounds like a pretty good idea Mario, the only problem I foresee with EEB being the main focus is although I am interested in it, it doesn't overlap with my field at all or the papers I typically come across that would be material for proposal. I merely have an academic interest in it that would be satisfied in reading papers others propose but what if anything I could contribute to something so far removed from my field (remember I deal only with things at the molecular level and rarely at the level of populations or organisms) may be limited.

-DG said...

An Addendum:

I think having something with a more broader appeal may work, although it deviates quite a bit from how Journal clubs are normally run. Most of us are involved in Journal clubs that focus quite specifically on more narrow fields of study with our home departments, working groups, etc whereas we rarely have an opportunity to be part of a club that discusses quite different papers, especially ones that may at times be far removed from our area of expertise but are nonetheless accessible and interesting.

If the core group of initial members had their distinct areas of expertise and proposed papers that caught their eye on a rotating basis it may fuel some interesting discussion on a wide variety of topics that fall under Evolutionary Biology. It would also be good to keep it as far removed from becoming embroiled directly in evolution-creationism debates as possible. There are already plenty of forums that we have for discussing that particular interplay and I would like to keep this focused on the scholarly contemplation of papers among peers. Although of course non-scientists with sufficient interest to follow and engage in discussion of a paper are more than welcome.

Mario Pineda-Krch said...

I assume that it is the first 'E' in EEB that falls outside of your field? Something with a broader appeal is good, but do we still want to subset it? For example something along the line of 'Evolutionary Biology Journal Club'?

I like the the scholarly contemplation of papers among peers and as far removed from becoming embroiled directly in evolution-creationism debates as possible ideas. That's exactly what I have in mind.

There's a new post on the Nature Nautilus blog about setting up a blog in the Nature Network that may be of interest to us.

-DG said...

Exactly, Evolutionary Biology, specifically Molecular Evolution, is my field but the Ecology isn't :)

I'll check out the Nature link. I do think that Evolutionary Biology is as broad as the topic should be, because well it allows for coverage of almost anything that is directly related to Evolution whether it is more theoretical or practical. Like I said having it that broad would allow all of those people who are interested in a wide range of evolutionary topics to discuss things that may be in their field or outside of their field depending on the week but not something always in or always out as it would if we were much more specific.

Anonymous said...

Hello, in response to a comment left by Mario at Nautilus, the Nature authors' blog, I wanted to mention the Nature journal club blog. Each week the journal Nature features a scientists' chosen paper (on the Research Highlights page at the start of the journal); we invite discussion of the paper at the journal club blog.

But in addition, you can start up your own journal club (or any kind of) blog on the Nature Network for free -- just go to the homepage, click on "global blogs" and there is a big "start a blog" button. Look forward to seeing you there.
Best wishes