How To Science Blog

By Neuroskeptic | October 19, 2013 5:02 am

Long-term readers will know that I’ve offered various writing tips over the years: how I write, how to keep it brief, why blogs fail and how to avoid that happening, and emotions you may feel when writing.


But I’ve never specifically covered science blogging. I was asked on Twitter for my thoughts and as the request contained sufficient flattery, I decided to go for it.

Think like a scientist but write like a blogger. Write as informally as possible, while not sacrificing accuracy. This is vital if you’re aiming to reach ‘the public’ – but I believe you should write informally even if your intended audience are scientists. When scientists want academic formality, they read papers; when they want something different, they read blogs.

Don’t dumb down. This is easier said than done. Writing clearly without dumbing down is an art and it takes time to master, but that should be your goal. In order to achieve it, you’ll need to understand what you’re writing about on a deep level – anyone can dumb down, but it takes an expert not to. So I recommend you…

…start by blogging about your own sub-speciality. If you’re a scientist then this will probably be your own research area (although you don’t need to blog about your own papers as such.) If you’re not a scientist you’ll still feel drawn to one topic above others, make that your niche. You can diversify later.

Use (borrow) images. Pictures say 1000 words etc. As a science blogger, you’re lucky: you’ll usually get pictures, diagrams and graphs made for you, in the paper(s). This is not legal advice but in 5 years blogging, no-one has ever complained about my putting such images in my blog posts, with clear attribution (touch wood).

Be openly opinionated. It’s absolutely fine to include your personal thoughts, criticisms, anecdotes etc. alongside ‘neutral’ exposition. In fact, if you don’t have anything of your own to say about a topic, you should reconsider whether you ought to be blogging it. It’s not “unscientific” to have an opinion, nor to express it – just so long as you’re transparent about what’s your opinion, what’s someone else’s opinion, and what’s agreed fact.

Be new. You can be new, either by being the first to blog about new stuff, or by writing about old stuff in a new way. I mostly blog about new science (here’s how), but this isn’t the only way to science blog. In fact, I wish I had more time to cover ‘old’ research and some of my favourite posts have been about that.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: blogging, media, science, select, Top Posts
  • Rolf Zwaan

    Great tips! Blog posts should not be like journal articles.

  • Adam J Calhoun

    Congruent with your advice, I think “find your niche” is the best advice I heard (essentially, ‘blog about your subspecialty’ etc). Unless you are a truly stupendous writer, the fundamental question is what would drive someone to your blog vs another blog? You don’t want to just be one of a crowd.

    • Neuroskeptic

      Right, that’s good advice, and I think it’s good for two reasons – not just because it helps you find a gap in the market, but also because it enables you to write better.

  • Sanna

    Thanks for the tips! Have just started my own science blog and trying to find that balance between ‘dumbing down’ the information and getting too technical. I’ve opted for ‘quirky’!
    Feel free to check it out..happy for all/any comments as a newbie to this.

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  • Klae A. Klevenger

    I would like to remind everyone the first REAL step to science blogging is to learn the lexicon for the particular science you will be blogging about. Neuroskeptic does not. Neuroskeptic when challenged on their incorrect use of words does not attempt to correct itself. These are both bad attitudes for a blogger to have. I say this because I tried to get neuroskeptic to realize that sex and gender are different. Neuroskeptic did not even try to learn anything about the differences or how they used the words incorrectly. In fact they basically ignored or called me a troll. For this I say Neuroskeptic does not actually know how to run a blog that should be taken seriously. BEcause they know MUCh less then they let on and are NOT willing to learn more from anyone.

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About Neuroskeptic

Neuroskeptic is a British neuroscientist who takes a skeptical look at his own field, and beyond. His blog offers a look at the latest developments in neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology through a critical lens.


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