— digitalgrip.fieldnotes


If you think you know what a scientist looks like – this is the place to go to be surprised. And don’t stop at the belly dancers…

From the “about”:

This Is What A Scientist Looks Like is a project developed by Allie Wilkinson to challenge the stereotypical perception of a scientist.

There is no single clear-cut path to becoming a scientist. A scientist can come from any background.

There is no cookie-cutter mold of what a scientist looks like. A scientist can look like you, or can look like me.

There is no rule that scientists can’t be multidimensional and can’t have fun.


It’s a simple idea, but the result is really powerful. Go, take a look. Or even better: submit!

This Is What A Scientist Looks Like

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When I was at Science Online 2012 earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch and Embargo Watch. When I tweeted about transcribing the interview as part of the preparations for this article in Spektrum, some people asked if they could read the transcript. After Ivan kindly agreed, I can now say: Yes, you can.

Just a note in advance, though: It’s a transcript (minus some off-topic remarks and outside distractions…), not an edited interview, so it may meander a bit here and there. We talked about blogging and the role of journalism, specifically science journalism, about potential business models and a retraction mystery novel, about science as a human endeavor and a developing culture of error reporting online, about commenters and German readers, about dialogue and the role of humor – and much more. I immensely enjoyed listening to the kind and generous innovator I found in Ivan, and I hope you do, too.

So without further ado – the interview:

K: What motivated you to start Embargo Watch and later Retraction Watch?

IO: It was actually this conference that inspired me to start these blogs. I have been here every year, this is the sixth year, and I wouldn’t miss it. Because it’s just a wonderful group of people and you learn so much. And it’s just such a supportive goup and we can all criticize each other’s work in an incredibly constructive way, without it ever being a personal issue. You can even criticize speakers while they are speaking, on Twitter, and people will respond and we all are the better for it at the end of it.

On the subject matter, though: I had always thought a lot about embargoes. This goes back years. When I was at The Scientist, I wrote a few blogposts for the Scientist-Blog, about a couple of situations. And there is a book by Vincent Kiernan called „Embargoed Science“. It’s his thesis. He was a reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education for many years and then went back to get a PhD in communications or science communication. And his thesis was about embargoes and what effect they have on science and science communication, in particular journalism. So he eventually published that thesis as a book and I always followed his work, I thought very highly of it. And then there were some incidents with WHO, the World Health Organization, the New York Times, the New England Journal of Medicine had something else that happened with embargoes, so I would always write little items about it, you know, think about it a little bit, used the „Ingelfinger Rule“, it’s a fun word to use…

The nice thing about blogging is that it can give voice and a regular rhythm to your obsessions, right? And embargoes really are one of my obsessions…

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Three days ago, Kevin Zelnio posted a personal and very moving account of his own way into science at DeepSeaNews.

Inspired by sessions at #scio12, he reached out to the wider community via Twitter:

This is when the realization hit me that we all have amazing stories that we bottle up inside us. Perhaps we are embarrassed about them or just think no one cares. So I started the twitter hashtag #IamScience and implored my twitter friends to tweet their “nontraditional” experiences. The response was overwhelming. I’ve included a storify all the responses below. I’ve read every single one and am truly humbled to be in the wake of such amazing individuals who have overcome so much to be where they are at today.

And this is, what crowdsourced storytelling can be:

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About The Open Notebook:

The Open Notebook is a non-profit organization that provides unique tools and resources to help science journalists at all experience levels hone their craft.

Evan Ratliff, founder and editor of The Atavist […] writes: “The best way to learn about journalistic storytelling — besides writing stories — is by taking great narratives apart. The Open Notebook goes a step further, taking us back to the pitch letter, the assignment, and everything it took to get a big piece landed. The focus may be on science, but the lessons found here can be applied to any story.”

Zu Science Online 2012 kommt Jeanne Erdmann, eine der Redakteurinnen. Neben TON arbeitet als freelance Medizinjournalistin und bloggt auf Repetitive Stress: A Blog about Coping with Caregiving.

The Open Notebook is also worth following at @Open_Notebook

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American science writer Carl Zimmer has been collecting pictures of scientist’s tattoos on his blog for years and the Science Tattoo Emporium has been growing steadily. Now he has turned them into a beautiful and truly amazing book.

Wissenschaftler mit Tattoos gibt es gerade auch auf Spiegel online, aber eher als Altlasten aus wilden Tagen…


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With registrations open these days for Science Online 2012, I created a Wordle from the preliminary program:

Ready to register?



Inspired by @Comprendia‘s Twitter-clouds today

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The Carnival of Evolution #41 is up at The Mermaid’s Tale – and I am honoured to have a post up there, too!

For those not familiar with the carnivals: What is a blog carnival?

Some of my favourite carnivals are Circus of the Spineless, Friday Ark or Berry Go Round, but there are many more to be found here, or, better even, here.


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The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice is “a website dedicated to the horrors of pre-anaesthetic surgery”. Beautifully gruesome stories told byLindsey Fitzharris, a medical historian who is currently a Postdoc at Queen Mary, University of London.

Just to give you a taste:

On 8 October 1793, James Williams—a 16 year-old surgical student—described his living quarters in John Hunter’s anatomy school to his sister living in Worcester. He wrote:

My room has two beds in it and in point of situation is not the most pleasant in the world. The Dissecting Room with half a dozen dead bodies in it is immediately above and that in which Mr Hunter makes preparations is the next adjoining to it, so that you may conceive it to be a little perfumed. There is a dead carcase just at this moment rumbling up the stairs and the Resurrection Men swearing most terribly. I am informed this will be the case most mornings about four o’clock throughout the winter.

via @BoraZ

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Science blogging at its best: excellent discussion today at David Kroll’s Take as Directed about fact checking for sci/med stories:


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Sadly, Science Online London 2011 (or #solo11) has passed and I have missed all of it! So I was glad to see that the organizers have put together a number of storifies (mostly a collection of tweets from the conference), that give a surprisingly (to me, at least) useful impression of the event. Here, for example, is the Day 1 Keynote by physicist Michael Nielsen on “Open Science”:

Obviously, it’s not as good as having been there. But I like that it somehow manages to convey some of the vibes at the event, which is much more than many other conference documentations do and which makes storify a pretty interesting tool for event documentation.


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