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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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After some instructions and much encouragement by master science scribe Perrin Ireland, I finally sat down and gave it a try in the session “Story as Shape or Song: Geometry and Music as Longform Nonfiction Structural Models” hosted by Deborah Blum and David Dobbs:

 

 

Of course, this doesn’t even begin to do justice to the beauty of the event, so please check out Maryn McKenna’s Storify and this summary by Tanya Lewis.

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On January 19-21. Check here for the program, or read Bora’s more personal introduction to this year’s unconference.

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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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John Pavlus is a filmmaker and science writer, and I very much like this description on his production company Small Mammal’s  site:

Video on the web is fundamentally different than television and film, but cookie-cutter formats and half-baked mashups aren’t enough to engage smart viewers. Small Mammal understands what works on the web, and designs each project “from the idea up” to find the best match of subject and style — regardless of budget.

John blogs, too, and tweets at @johnpavlus

Here is one of his films, but do check out his site – there is much more to discover!

I, for one, strongly sympathize with his concept of ‘process value’ (including his contempt for “weightless, meaningless CGI wankfests”!).

 

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Among this year’s participants of #scio12 is Usha Lee McFarling. She is one of the authors of Altered Oceans: A Five-Part Series on the Crisis in the Seas (with Kenneth R. Weiss, photography and video by Rick Loomis. 2006. Los Angeles Times), which is a truly impressive piece of multimedia storytelling, and for which she won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2007.

Unfortunately, the oceans haven’t improved since 2006.

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Delightful nerd-humor by science comedian Brian Malow (@sciencecomedian):

Want more? Try Star Wars’ and Bad Science In Movies.

[re-posted from Aug 28, 2011]

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The call is closed now and I can’t wait to see what’s in the hat!
I am also thrilled to meet Perrin Ireland who I blogged about before in “A good brain is hard to find”.

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Nächste Woche beginnt Science Online 2012 – die sechste Un-Konferenz über Wissenschaft online in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Bis dahin werde ich die Gelegenheit nutzen und einige der Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer und ihre sites vorstellen. Go Science!

 

The Science Cheerleaders–current and former professional NBA and NFL cheerleaders who are also scientists and engineers–perform LIVE at the U.S.A. Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C., October 23-24, 2010.

Diese Idee finde ich auf den ersten (deutschen) Blick immer ein bisschen befremdlich. Aber warum nicht? Wenn es um role models und Frauen in der Wissenschaft geht – auch hier gibt es eben viel mehr Spielarten, als wir uns das gerne so vorstellen. Und in den USA sind die Science Cheerleaders ziemlich erfolgreich.
Wenn also nichts anderes, dann sind sie zumindest ein schönes Beispiel, wie Wissenschaftskommunikation in den jeweiligen kulturellen Kontext eingepasst sein kann.

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Delightful nerd-humor by science comedian Brian Malow (@sciencecomedian):

Want more? Try Star Wars’ and Bad Science In Movies.

Read More