This is part of a series of short lay summaries that describe the technical publications I have authored. This paper, entitled “Historical changes in the phenology of British Odonata are related to climate”, was published in the journal Global Change Biology in 2007 (my first paper!). You can find this paper online at the publisher, or on Figshare.
Background: A variety of responses to climate change have been detected in a variety of taxa. Among these is a change in phenology – the timing of the life cycle (like the emergence of an adult dragonfly from its larval case as shown on the right). Since some species use temperature as a cue for when to develop, as the environment warms there is a signal of earlier development in these species. Continue reading →
I got an email from our university press officer earlier this week asking “whether we have a ‘zoologist who could participate in a light-hearted discussion about who would win in a fight between a tiger and a rhino on Friday morning’.” The request was from the local BBC Radio Leeds team who wanted to break up their coverage of the Leeds Rhinos vs Castleford Tigers rugby league Challenge Cup final preparations with some light-hearted digressions. I have resolved to take a more active part in science communication (including this blog), because I see that as a fundamental part of my job (even if it is little-rewarded…) and so I agreed to do it. Continue reading →
There has been a lot of discussion over the merits of academics blogging (see here, here, here, here, here and here). The positive arguments seem to be that:
It’s good outreach, allowing a flexible platform for communication of science
Blogs allow rapid responses and reporting on research
Online profiles are important and blogs can be a strong foothold in internet-space
Writing for a non-technical audience is good practice for science communication
The negative arguments seem to be that:
It doesn’t count in academic terms (it’s not a paper, a grant, or a lecture)
Sometimes tenure panels might see blogging as a waste of time
There’s the danger of “upsetting” people.
Well I think it counts (even if my colleagues disagree), we don’t have tenure in the UK, and I don’t mind upsetting people, so there’s no good reason for me not to blog! I was letting it drop off a bit, but all this discussion has encouraged me to start up again. One of the problems is that I lacked a blogging strategy, which meant that I only shared what I (A) found interesting, and (B) found time to write about. Most of my problem was that I found interesting topics and spent too much time on too few, too niche issues. That’s going to change. Here’s the plan:
I’m going to post lay summaries of each of my publications. That’s 25 to start with, and I’ll add more as I go along. I see that as a vital part of science communication, and I’ll link them back to my publications page on my website.
I have recently been immersing myself in Twitter which has led to my discovering a lot more interesting (and sometimes plain weird) papers and articles. This will be a key (near-bottomless) source for new ideas, but I’ll try to keep to a theme.
The main topicsare going to be
General science things
Entomology news and views
Education and technology
Specific posts about my research
Finally, I’m going to write in short form now – no more monthly long reads. 500 words max, and always with an image or video. It was the length and detail that was killing my productivity, and nobody reads those longreads, anyway!
I am hoping that that is going to provide a sustainable flow of content over the next few months, and I’ll reevaluate at Christmas. Happy reading!
In a recent paper published in Trends in Plant Science, Anurag Angrawal presents a few “reasons to be skeptical of open-access publishing” (Angarwal, 2014) in order to stimulate debate over the current open access (OA) publishing model. Ironically this is behind a paywall so I thought I would summarise the content, which is more reasonable than the title suggests. Here is the gist of the four problems: Continue reading →
I wrote earlier about a few apps that I had found useful in my first weeks of owning an iPad. Well I’ve been actively pursuing opportunities to learn more about the learning applications for tablets like the iPad and wanted to share some of what I have found. A lot of this comes from a workshop by the brilliant Joe Moretti, who came to my university to run a workshop on iPads in education. I hope these are useful to you, too: Continue reading →
I’ve been taking a teaching course that requires me to change the way that I teach to explore new techniques. At first it seemed like it was going to be a lot of effort, but it turned out to be a fascinating and enjoyable experience. I was experimenting with a type of teaching called the “flipped [or inverted] classroom“. Here’s how it works: