What does Jonathan Sweedler think of bloggers? #scio12

Professor Jonathan V. Sweedler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Credit: The Sweedler Research Group website (click for source).

We just learned yesterday from C&EN's Linda Wang that Dr. Jonathan Sweedler has been named as successor to Dr. Royce Murray as editor of Analytical Chemistry.
The next editor-in-chief of Analytical Chemistry will be Jonathan V. Sweedler, James R. Eiszner Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and director of the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center, the American Chemical Society, publisher of the journal, has announced. Sweedler will succeed Royce W. Murray, professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who will retire from the journal at the end of this year. Murray has served as editor-in-chief of Analytical Chemistry since 1991. Sweedler, currently an associate editor of the journal, will take over the position on Jan. 1, 2012.
Regular readers of Analytical Chemistry have grown accustomed to Dr. Murray's colorful and lively editorials in each issue. Discussion of one of these, on the "phenomenon" of science bloggers as a serious concern to scientists ("Science Blogs and Caveat Emptor"), was my most highly-read and commented post since we joined CENtral Science.

Join us at our expanded meeting site at the NC State University campus in Raleigh, January 19-21, 2012.

Since the international science communication conference ScienceOnline has been held annually in Dr. Murray's backyard, we issued an invitation for him to attend last year. We thought that if he could meet these science bloggers, many of whom are practicing sciences and top-tier science journalists, he might learn how positive this community could be for the advocacy of our discipline. He politely declined. But with him stepping down as editor-in-chief on December 31st, perhaps he might have more time to join us this year when ScienceOnline2012 is held at the North Carolina State University 's McKimmon Center on January 19-21, 2012. In the meantime, we'd love to hear what Dr. Sweedler thinks of this blogging phenomenon.

Author: David Kroll

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  1. To answer your question with a question, what should I think of blogging? Convince me…

    I am considering whether to start a blog related to the journal and am wondering what the community think of this. Or said differently, what are the advantages of an editorial each month in Analytical Chemistry compared to a monthly blog? Or perhaps these concepts should be combined?

  2. In some ways, I find it strange that this is one of my first questions asked since my new position as editor of Analytical Chemistry was announced.

    Let me answer your question with a question: what should I think of blogging? Said differently, do you think that a monthly editorial or an editor’s blog will reach more readers of Analytical Chemistry?

  3. Jonathan, first things first: hearty congratulations on being selected to succeed Royce. I know that you’ve already been deeply involved with the journal as an associate editor and this move obviously recognizes your commitment to the journal and the field.

    But please accept my apologies that your comments got caught in my moderation queue while I was sequestered at the C&EN Advisory Board meeting. Now that you’ve had a comment accepted here, future ones will show up immediately (unless you include multiple URLs in the comment text – this is the software’s way to avoid spammers).

    To answer your question(s), I would do both. The journal editorial is ideal to reach out to readers who read the hard copy or get the journal ToC alerts. However, as a journal editor, a blog is valuable to engage additional readers and garner immediate feedback on your editorials. Of course, I’d also suggest that you post less formal missives at least once a week or even fuse it with a lab blog. But even a simple monthly mirror of your editorials is okay and better than just having them in the journal.

    As for blogging by scientists in general, I support this venue as a legitimate, scholarly outreach tool. We are increasingly called upon by funding sources and lawmakers to justify the relevance of our work. Having a blog is a superb tool for such outreach because you can hit the general public, students and postdocs, colleagues, and even members of the media to improve the reach and accuracy of reporting on science in your lab or field.

    Moreover, a blog builds community and makes us (scientists) seem approachable as human beings. I haven’t yet met you but I can tell from the April Fool’s photos at your lab website that you have a self-effacing nature that seems to cultivate community. An online presence that is less formal than editorials in the journal can further cultivate this community outside of your laboratory. You have a great bully pulpit as a journal editor and can add immensely to our mutual goal of increasing exposure to and appreciation for chemistry.

    And, hey, I just got the EIC of a major ACS journal to have a conversation with me on a blog!

  4. Professor Sweedler:

    If you decide to start a blog, it could serve as a sort of online journal club for the Analytical Chemistry community.

    You and your colleagues could write posts along the lines of:
    — Hey, everybody let’s discuss this paper.
    — Hey, look at this great figure!
    — Hey, look at this neat demo of a new instrument.
    — Hey, look at this useful method.
    — This concept is neat. What would your next step be?

    The blog could also become a home for all of your formal editorials in Analytical Chemistry, but also for shorter and less formal opinions. “I’d really like to see more papers about work toward reusable SERS substrates. Etc…”

    I agree with everything that Dave says about community. That’s something that the field of Analytical Chemistry is missing.

  5. My first thought is what’s the big deal? I read Analytical Chemistry online already. Improve feedback in the journal, and there will be nothing to decide between!

    But then there is that matter of paywalls.

    I like blogs because, like David, I like the interactive community. It is through becoming re-acquainted with the chemistry community here, at CEN blogs, that I decided to reactivate my ACS membership after a bit of a lapse.

    So win/win! Use a blog for outreach, as a means to entice other chemists back into the fold, and to educate members of the science interested public that might never see an issue of Analytical Chemistry.

    Some of us might see your posts/editorials twice, but lets assume that they will be great enough to be worthy of a second reading!

  6. @Jonathan Sweedler (& @Aaron Rowe) I think Aaron has come up with your second question: How to create a sense of community among analytical chemists that causes us to retain our identification as analytical chemists despite our diverse interests and professional careers?

  7. I think the blog will be great, but I would caution on what topics are discussed. If you veer in the direction the editor of C&EN sometimes takes in terms of political-sounding posts, the blog could get inundated with opinions. Better to focus on analytical chemistry and sharing your love of it. It will be easier for you to manage and readers will appreciate and keep returning.