From Blog Posts To Research Papers; Successful Cases?
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9.0 years ago
Flow ★ 1.5k

I am subscribed to many interesting bioinformatics blogs. Some of them are related to my research field, while others not. Sometimes I am really impressed that some of the posts are in fact real pieces of scientific work, that although they do not follow strictly the scheme of a scientific paper, could be easily converted to a research paper. Therefore I am intrigued why these people do not convert sometime their most relevant and accessed blog post to research paper, do you know why? Besides, do you know successful cases where people have converted them to papers?

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9.0 years ago
Ben ★ 2.0k

I'm certain examples exist but there are a few good reasons not to attempt to convert an interesting blog post into a paper. Firstly, there is a gulf of time and effort between the two. A decent paper requires, among other things: a comprehensive literature review; sound, reproducible methodology; a lengthy peer-review process; possibly a substantial fee (as in author-pays open access); conformity to certain rules, i.e. figure limits, number of pages, set template... Overall a lot more time and effort is needed to have a paper published than the authoring of a blog post; even those that have some nice, novel data analysis and reach interesting conclusions can be done in a short space of free-time, whereas to have a paper accepted in a reputable journal requires a much longer commitment.

Another point is that a well-written and popular blog post is, in itself, a dissemination of results and could carry more impact than a research paper. In terms of career advancement, while some Professors may prefer peer-reviewed publications, there is also a market for those with good scientific communication skills and an online presence as well as a proven academic record. Also consider that an engaging, flowing argument using rhetoric may lose some of its appeal when converted to passive voice.

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Also if anyone's interested, this example came up on twitter: http://twitter.com/kaznatcheev/status/262874569080188929 - though it's a StackExchange -> arXiv deal rather than the blog post -> peer-reviewed publication you're interested in.

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9.0 years ago
Adam ★ 1.0k

In response to a paper regarding RNA editing, Joe Pickrell wrote the following blog post:

http://www.genomesunzipped.org/2011/05/notes-on-the-evidence-for-extensive-rna-editing-in-humans.php

That blog post seems to have led to a paper about 10 months later:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6074/1302.4.abstract

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TL;DR - but didn't they even mention reverse transcriptase inaccuracy?

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Adam is correct that the blog post led to the technical comment in Science.

Reverse transcriptase inaccuracy is not mentioned because we do not believe it is relevant. More details (including what I now think is the most likely explanation for most of the "RNA editing" sites) is here: http://www.genomesunzipped.org/2012/03/questioning-the-evidence-for-non-canonical-rna-editing-in-humans.php

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OK, interesting! Thanks for the response, I'll see if I can get around to reading the paper.

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9.0 years ago
Ketil 4.1k

+1 to ben.moore's answer. The effort is much greater writing a paper, and the format is more constrained. In a blog post, I am free to express whatever opinion I want, and can put forward ideas I find interesting without extensive proofs that they work, and without being shot down by referees pushing their own agendas and pet peeves. Some things get written up as questions, more than as answers. In addition, there is often many months of delay in the publication process.

So I write many programs and develop methods, I blog about some of them if I think they are generally useful, and finally, I try to find time to write papers about the stuff that is important enough to warrant the effort.

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I like what you say. The problem is when you are forced to publish a lot in order to advance in your academic career. In such cases I think it is advisable to invest the blog-posting effort in creating "small-papers". I mean, for me is hard to decide when going for a post blog or when for a mini-paper or letter or communication. I guess, for a first try, a blog-post is ok, but for more results one should go for a paper. And there is also the problem that somebody could steal your ideas/first-results. Would you like that? Besides, do you have now a permanent research position?

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