Field of Science

Science in Translation: Online and Offline

ScienceOnline 2011 was this weekend. For various reasons I couldn't go in person and watching the stream of Tweets tagged #scio11 left me more than a bit wistful, but sessions in two rooms were streamed (thank you National Association of Science Writers!) so I could eavesdrop on and even contribute to some of the conversations that I was itching to have. Having just finished a piece for Nature Chemistry tackling some of the issues that the infamous Royce Murray editorial raised and being in the throes of getting ready to teach a new course, many of the topics on the table at the conference, from alt-metrics to science in fiction are on my mind.

Starting next week I'm teaching a new course called "Writing Science" -- a seven week exploration of the many ways science moves out of the lab or the field and into the wider world and what writing might have to do with such translations.

On the table are questions such as: How is science transformed as it moves out from the lab and the field into the broader scientific and lay communities? What gets lost (or found) in the translation from an article couched in equations and technical terms to an article in the Times or Discover? Who should be writing about science, or perhaps we should ask who's writing we should be reading? Is there a role in "official" (or "serious" or "real" or "scholarly", pick your adjective) science circles for "unofficial" channels like blogs and videos (the marvelous dance your Ph.D. thesis contest comes to mind!)?

We're reading and writing many genres - including: lab and field notes, the scholarly literature, things short and sweet (abstracts, tweets, radio spots, podcasts, blogs), science journalism, essays, humor, fiction, drama, poetry, and the visual.

The reading list is a work in progress, but if you want to follow along, I'll be posting each week's readings and writing prompts here - and some of the writing from willing participants.

Illustration is a bit from Linus Pauling's lab notebooks. The entire set is digitized and available through Oregon State University's library here.


  1. Really? You will post updates? I don't pay tuition- I feel like that's cheating. But- I'll take it. Thanks.

  2. Really! Enjoy...and I'd love to know what you liked and didn't!


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