ScienceOnline2013 Debrief page

This page is for you to continue the discussions that arose at #scio13. Those can be general, or specific to topics, or even more specific as potential ideas for future sessions.

The process for session suggestions, choosing sessions, and choosing moderators is not set yet. Once it is, some time in the near future, we will set up the official "Program Suggestions" page where you will put very concrete proposals for sessions. At that time, you will use this page (as well as #scio13 Blog+Media coverage, Storifys, individual wiki pages of #scio13 sessions, etc) as a reminder of your own thoughts and discussions, something you can then use to make specific session proposals.

If you have any questions or problems with editing this page of the wiki, ask Walter Jessen for help. If you have questions about the program or ScienceOnline, please email Karyn Traphagen or Bora Zivkovic.

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Global Equality and Representation in Science Reporting (suggested by Danica Radovanovic, Charles Ebikeme, Markus Hammonds,
and Kevin Orrman-Rossiter)

While the internet is a truly global phenomenon, the stark majority of science reporting focuses on the Western world – typically only giving full consideration to Western Europe and North America, and stories from elsewhere which are considered relevant to them. Consequently, there are online scientific communities which are underrepresented and even marginalised in mainstream discussions. It is crucial to address the current situation, issues and challenges of those science communities outside the US which are not mainstream or have, perhaps, been left behind due to factors beyond their control, such as language barriers or lack of the social media exposure. In this interactive session we are examining and discussing these international scientific online communities, for instance, those in India, Eastern Europe, Africa, etc.

Some of the questions we will address in the session: What are the stories coming out of these underrepresented areas that go unnoticed? How is African science helping development of the continent? Where are the billion dollar industries in Australia? Adding these underrepresented stories to the mix will go a long way to reflect the truly global nature of modern science.

Beyond the Press Release (suggested by @davidmanly and @lirugani)
Press releases are becoming less a way for reporters to find stories and more a way for institutions to
publicize the work they’ve done. While many organizations still care about media coverage and maintain
relationships with journalists, the advent of social media and content aggregation has increasingly
allowed information to be delivered directly to the readers (and views differ on whether this is good or bad).

Despite conversations in recent years on whether or not the press release is dead and how to improve
press releases, the standard press release model remains stubbornly in place. This session would explore
possibilities beyond the press release that would still give institutions the publicity they want,
journalists the compelling and original stories they look for, and scientists the piece of mind that their work is being represented accurately.

  • How can writers find stories from institutions without a press release?
  • What other kinds of materials can PIOs or scientists produce, given realistic resources and constraints?
    • Example: Data visualization. The National Academy of Sciences produced this interactive chart to accompany a report on US health rankings compared with other industrialized nations, but a few minutes playing with data could lead reporters to other interesting angles or entirely new stories.
  • Should PIOs produce other “original” or "packaged" material? If so, what’s left for the journalist to do? Or should PIOs provide ideas and leave journalists to come up with their own stories? How can they do that?
  • Should scientists be required to produce ancillary material as part of submissions to or publications in peer-reviewed journals?
    • Example: The New Journal of Physics accepts video abstracts for their papers, which are
      free to watch, include transcripts, and give journalists insight into scientists’ personalities, topics
      of study, and possible story angles.

  • Should scientists forgo public relations completely?
    • A recent CJR article proposed that eLife paper authors could refrain from involving PR departments and instead work with journal staff to produce "digests," or brief descriptions of the work that would be included as part of the technical paper and held to the same scientific standards.

Emerging Markets, Emerging Stories
Science writers and bloggers have developed the habit of centering their professional career around their living room, often closely situated to a major US/European research hub. But SF/NY/DC/LA/Boston are already covered pretty well covered. What about the rest of the world? No, I don't mean Canada, I mean Latin America, Asia, and (dare I say it?) Africa. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of stories every day from good scientists that goes completely ignored. I know this because as an English-writing science journalist in Mexico City, I see them every week. You may be thinking "I'm to afraid/unfamiliar/monolingual/sedentary to report overseas." Well, it's just not true anymore. I propose a talk with @erikvance discussing how to live and report science from a foreign country where you don't speak the language and @bborrell discussing how to travel from NYC to exotic lands on spec, get the story, and not go broke. Find the story, find the translator, understand the context, be safe, pay the bills. You might be surprised how doable it all is.
Suggested by @erikvance

The home freelancing ecosystem – how to stay sane
They say it takes two years to really get a freelancing career going. Two years of rejection, frustration, and sitting about in your proverbial bathrobe. Now, there are lots of us who can do it faster, but two years is an oft-quoted number. So, sitting alone in your apartment, how do you avoid going insane? This is intended for the new writer, with the idea that if you are a veteran, you already have a system.
Talking points of this would be things like:
1) build a network of colleagues around you online or in your city (or both).
2) build a network of friends that are NOT part of the above network.
3) maximize your workspace juju (such as keeping an office and office mates away from home,tools for time management, etc)
4) exercise - find a prison workout that works for you
5) set up a schedule that doesn't highlight failure but keeps you moving ahead
6) think about a radical change of scenery
Suggested by @erikvance
-Great idea! Tell us all your secrets, @erikvance. Also happy to contribute what knowledge I'll have amassed from my fledgling freelance career by conference time. @ihearttheroad

Blogger feedback

The Web is full of advice to bloggers. Previous years at ScienceOnline also always had sessions about best practices in blogging, from picking a topic, to promoting your work, to dealing with trolls, to blogging for a laung haul, to getting picked up by blogging networks. But the blog audience is usually referred to as "silent readers", those 90% of readers who never comment or email the blogger. I'd like to see a conversation between bloggers and their readers. Perhaps someone can set up a well-designed and thought-through questionnaire to blog readers. Then, a number of popular science bloggers can simultaneously post the link to the questionnaire. Then someone can compile and analyze the responses and post the results online - this would be a start of the conversation. Then, at #scio14, we could have a session where avid blog readers who are not themselves bloggers (especially scientists) provide feedback to bloggers: which blogs they read and why, where, when and how they read blogs, how they find blogs, how they choose what blogs or posts to read and which ones to skip, what they like and dislike, what they would like to see more of. I am not sure how would this work out format-wise. It is not a hands-on skill-teaching Workshop, not an expert Seminar, not a typical unconference session with two moderators, but perhaps a room in which bloggers sit on one side, readers on the other side, and a moderator facilitates a dialogue between the two groups. Idea originally suggested by @ccziv

Strategically Thinking and Communicating to Prevent Cultural Polarization of Novel Scientific Concepts and Technologies -- (@JLVernonPhD)

Scientific discoveries and technologies are intrinsically culturally benign. However, policies and applications based on these advancements have a cultural footprint that triggers a societal response. That response can accelerate or inhibit the adoption of novel science. Scientists, Policymakers and Science Communicators should be aware of the cultural pitfalls that lay ahead of the roll-out of any new scientific discoveries, and they should plan accordingly. A well-thought out science communication strategy, that considers the potential for moral conflicts, can decrease social resistance. I propose a 2 part presentation in which the cultural cognitive landscape will be summarized, potential societal triggers will be explained, examples of failed communications approaches will be described, and strategies to identify the risks and minimize the impact of the cultural footprint will be discussed.

In order to facilitate sufficient discussion on these topics, I recommend 2 sessions consisting of:
1) Converge session - in which these concepts are laid out to some degree of depth
2) Traditional un-conference session - in which we follow the standard format of opening the discussion to all conference attendees to help communicators understand these challenges and develop their strategies going forward.

Several scio13 folks have expressed interest in this session: @peterdedmonds @JacquelynGill @LizNeeley @experrinment I encourage them and all others to expand on this idea.

*Note: This session proposal is similar but distinct from the very important session proposed by Melanie Tannenbaum and Jason Goldman (see below). The session proposed here is primarily about "preventing cultural backlash" to "new" scientific discoveries, concepts, policies and applications of new technologies. I interpret Melanie and Jason's session to be about persuading audiences to accept controversial scientific concepts. In my opinion, though there may be some overlap, persuasion tools would be more applicable once a scientific concept has already experienced cultural polarization.

Note: I have shared the idea for this session with one of the experts on this topic, Dan Kahan, and he has tentatively agreed to accept an invitation to attend scio14, if our session is selected. Author and journalist Chris Mooney has also agreed to participate in a session on this topic, if our session is selected. Others who have been suggested to speak to this topic include: Eugenie Scott, Naomi Oreskes, Sharon Dunwoody, Katherine McComas

Outreach and science communication toward parents - the ultimate gatekeepers and teachers (recommended moderators: Tara Haelle and Liz Heinecke)

Consider how some of the biggest scientific issues that suffer from misinformation, pseudoscience, phobia, etc., such as vaccines and GMO foods, are also those requiring the most communication with parents. Many of us are parents, so we understand the fierce protectiveness we feel about our children's well-being and the confusing messages parents must often sift through in making decisions for their children. Yet so many well-meaning parents don't vaccinate their children or are paranoid about GMO or suffer from deep-seated chemophobia, and many of them don't have time to read tons of blogs that explain the science to them. How can we reach these parents? How can we make important scientific topics relevant to them? How can we build a strong foundation of science literacy in parents that carries over into their children? How can we cut through the fear, confusion and misinformation that often paralyzes parents or leads them to make unscientific or even dangerous decisions (skipping vaccines). We'll talk about both aspects of reaching parents: both getting to them in the first place (outreach) despite how busy and frazzled parents are, and then how to frame the message and convey the information in a way that can get past some of the myths, misinformation and chemophobia they may have.

Health and Medicine (overall topic, multiple sessions or a track) - (suggested by Melissa Bodeau @MJBwrites )

Health & Medicine writing is part of the sciwri world, but can also be its own specialty. Would like to explore not only issues w/in this area, but discuss similarities/differences.
Would like to include more from Dr. Amy Abernathy in some way - personalized medicine, genomics, evidence-based medicine.
Would love input and involvement from folks like: @marynmck @david_dobbs @ivanoransky
session ideas
1) Dr. Oz vs Ivan O -- balancing outreach & med/sci rigor - suggested by @markgenome
2) how is writing about health/medicine the same and different than other science writing? examples, tips, cautions?
3) visualizing medicine - working with artists, animators and illustrators - when, why and how - suggested by Christine Young
4) patient POV writing - privacy, TMI balanced with the power of personal experience
5) responsibility as an author - is it different in health/med given readers may act/not based in part on our work? (Also explore if the answer varies for professional medical folks vs purely academic researcher-types like me (@thecancergeek)
6) ways to "break in"
7) How/Should you select the right audience for your writing, following on from #1? (i.e. are you aiming for a layperson? fellow scientist in your field) Is it possible to reach both equally well?
8) How to balance telling a compelling narrative with doing the necessary amount of explanatory journalism that writing about health and medicine requires? (suggested by @erinpodolak)
9) How to stay real when you know you're telling your audience something they aren't going to want to hear (suggested by @erinpodolak)

Comment (by @thecancergeek) - from interacting with a bunch of really passionate patient advocates on twitter, a patient-advocate perspective might be good to include. I have a friend who is a cancer blogger (and long-time survivor-advocate), but for a very different audience from me.
Response from @MJBwrites - I LOVE this idea.
I think this is a great idea, so important to include patient perspective (@erinpodolak)
  • cqchoi: Laura Newman (@lauranewmanny) has an entire blog devoted to patient POVs ( might be good for this?

I see the "Navigating biomedical social media & science writing" session proposed above as very complementary to a health/medicine track too. (@thecancergeek)
Response from @MJBwrites - Absolutely.

I think this suggestion and my suggestion above of "Navigating biomedical social media & science writing" could indeed mesh well. Exciting topic. As a blogger and scientist I have interactions with patients almost weekly so this is a big deal for me and raises many complex issues. (@pknoepfler).

--I really like the idea of multiple sessions looking at these issues, especially the one balancing outreach and rigor, such as how to explain what studies actually mean without fear-mongering or downplaying worthy results and how to keep the results in perspective for readers tired of hearing how good or bad for you wine, chocolate and coffee are this week. @tarahaelle

Choosing the Media for the Message -- (suggested by Melissa Bodeau @MJBwrites )

You may have a chosen, favorite or default type of media for your work - print (book/mag/paper), online, audio (radio/podcast) or video. But if you want to expand your experience and options and/or reach new audiences, how do you know which media might be best for what you're trying to say?
Would be great to hear from book, mag, paper, online, blogger, radio/podcast and video folks like:
@marynmck @david_dobbs
--I could help with this session because I produce all types of media and teach a course on this exact topic - how to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different media and choose the right type for your message and intent. May be useful if it's paired with sharing tools on how to try out new media with free and user-friendly software (Soundslides, Audacity, etc.) @tarahaelle
  • This is great! From a storytelling perspective, I would also be very interested in discussing how to effectively *mix* or combine different media (or even different channels) to build one integrated larger narrative - how to find a 'transmedia approach' to scientific storytelling and possibly/hopefully end up telling different stories about science. Like longterm observations, ongoing 'data drips', on-site reportage etc.
    Lots to learn from app-people there (just one example), as well as gamers. The National Film Board of Canada is doing a lot of amazing stuff along these lines (e.g. Bear 71, BlaBla), as is UNC's Powering the Nation (e.g. Coal. A Love Story). @quinoat
  • Love this idea! Can add in my experiences on the video side w/ Hangouts - @Noisyastronomer
  • YES! Juggling different media is a big part of museum exhibit production, when an entire exhition's-worth of content is divvied up between text, graphics, photos, models, objects, video, animation and interactives (mechanical and computer-based.) And video production can incorporate text elements, 2D/3D animation, or interactivity, depending on who and what it's for. @laminda

Shooting yourself in the foot mouth: What if your art (or lack thereof) is sabotaging your written message? (recommended moderators: Tara Haelle , Kalliopi Monoyios, Matt Shipman)

Writers and bloggers who think of themselves as written communicators and wordsmiths above all else often forget the power of the image, which yes, indeed, can exceed the power of the sword and the word. Either we don't include an image at all, or else we include ones that send a message we may not intend. That image - or lack thereof - helps to frame our message whether we want it to or not. Choosing the wrong one can sabotage what we're trying to say. Think of pro-vaccine pieces whose accompanying images convey the OPPOSITE of "go get your child vaccinated," such as this poorly paired image and story in Nature, and ones pointed out by @flyingtrilobite here. Is a "blah" image/illustration/photo better than a bad image? Is no image better than a "blah" image? What makes something a "good" image or illustration to use?

The session would be aimed specifically for those who do not regularly use or think about how they use images, or who may feel they don't have time to think much about art/illustration/photos/etc. We will explore the issues non-artsy, non-photo-minded, writerly types *need* to consider in framing their (written) message and talk about resources for finding good images (or making your own) that are free and easy (yes, it's possible).
---- Matt Shipman (@ShipLives) here: I'd love to be part of this session -- especially if we could rope Glendon Mellow, Kalliopi Monoyios, Alex Wild, and other science artists/photographers into the conversation. Writers are the audience for a session like this one, but it would be good to have some artists/photogs on hand to answer specific Qs, if they crop up. Also, I'd love to hear from folks like Ed Yong, Brian Switek, et al., who started out as bloggers with fairly limited resources -- and how their use of images has evolved (if at all), given their current access to significant image resources (the Nat Geo image library=awesomeness).

-- Stephanie Willen Brown / CogSciLibrarian: This *is* for writers & other text-based learners. We text-based folks need to learn how to appeal to visual learners (who are more of population); good images can help. Is there room in this talk for research about learning styles and/or how people respond (better) to images than to text?
Response from @tarahaelle: Yes, I think we should definitely include a discussion of at least how differently people respond to images than to text, and there's a lot of communications research available on the differences in terms of how people process each media type, how they remember it, and how it affects their ethics (which can be especially relevant for science topics like vaccines, climate change, etc.)

Privilege & the Pursuit of Science (recommended moderators: Miriam Goldstein, Jessica Morrison, DNLee)**

Expanding the dialogue on diversity and broadening participation of minorities (gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, and ethnicity) includes addressing the role that social and economic barriers play on who is able to participate in science, technology, engineering. This panel will address how the intersection of class and other minority labels must be considered in 21st Century STEM outreach and inclusion efforts. Addressing & admitting how privilege affects WHO has access to STEM education & opportunities is a very important part of the solution to plugging up the leaky pipeline. I think it will be a good expansion of Diversity Panels done in the past and will deepen the conversation on this topic.

The goals of the session will be to 1) elucidate the small buy insidious ways prejudices around privilege allow some to become successful in science and discourage others and 2) offer real tactics for individuals (to share with others) to make science more accessible to all students.

This proposed session was inspired by A field guide to privilege in marine science: some reasons why we lack diversityby Miriam Goldstein and A Dream Deferred: How access to STEM is denied to many students before they get in the door good
by DNLee
  • proposed by DNLee (@DNLee5)
  • I love it. Happy to help. - Jessica Morrison
  • I think this is great, and I'd also be happy to help. I suggested a Privilege 101 session below, and thought it might be a nice way to segue into a second, more advanced session on allies. - @JacquelynGill

Funding your dreams Linnea Fletcher and (possibly Sandra Porter @digitalbio or a PO)

You've got great ideas for projects that will rock the world, improve opportunities for diverse people to participate in the scientific community, and help educate young people. How can you pay for it? Dr. Fletcher was a program officer at the National Science Foundation for two years specializing in education-related NSF grants and can talk about different kinds of NSF grants, how to apply, and how to write them.

Maybe we could get program officers from other funding agencies to participate, too. Like NIH, Sloan, Pew, Gates?

  • Yes please! Have little experience with this and need to learn. Will take notes ;-) @Noisyastronomer

SciTube - or The Guide to Online Science Video (Tamara Krinsky, Henry Reich aka Minute Physics?, Carin Bondar?) DrRubidium

Our event is called "ScienceOnline", but a lot of what was talked about this year was text-based. It's time to bring video into the conversation! The amount of online video that consumers watch continues to escalate and there is now a ton of science-oriented video online, including everything from YouTube channels dedicated to explainer pieces, to web shows produced by established magazines and newspapers such as Scientific American, to outreach pieces from museums and institutions. What are some examples of what's out tehre? What makes for compelling video? If you're used to working in text, what adjustments to storytelling do you need to think about when putting together a video piece? And on the practical side, what are some basic production tips and tricks? How do you find an audience for your work? We could even do a workshop component of this topic at the beginning of Scio14, encouraging video newbies to shoot and post pieces. Hell, maybe it's time for a SciOnline YouTube channel...
  • I hope to have another year's experience in this area, and I'm always open to tips and tech advice - @Sciencenotscary
  • I like the session idea, and I'm happy to help if I can. Also love the idea of a #Scio YouTube channel - Neil Losin
  • Don't forget "how-to" videos. (Kids are always looking for science fair projects.) I make short experiment demo/science explanation videos for my website and app and would love to be involved in this session/workshop. -Liz Heinecke ( and
  • this is a great idea - what works on camera is not always what works in print or on the radio, obviously. Making the scientific process 'camera-ready' is a challenge but the potential pay-off is huge. Would love to get involved. -@indrevis
  • Yes, and would like to contribute how to do LIVE video ala Hangouts for this session if possible. Or it's own? @NoisyAstronomer
  • Seems like this easily could be split up into one session on "what's out there and what makes the good stuff good" and one workshop that's hands-on. Love the idea of kicking off the conference with a production bootcamp and then turning a mob of ninja filmmakers loose! @laminda

Narrative Beyond Text - Neil Losin and Tom Levenson

At #Scio13 there were some great sessions about developing and sustaining narrative in writing. But in the online media ecosystem, writing isn’t the only game in town. Still images, animations, video, and audio can all be used to communicate science, either on their own (e.g. a radio program or YouTube series) or in rich multimedia stories that integrate several types of content (e.g. the now-famous NYT piece “Snow Fall”). We propose a session that explores questions like: How can we develop and sustain an engaging narrative using these alternative forms? When do visuals and audio contribute to a narrative, and when do they distract from it? How is narrative in video and audio [similar to / different from] narrative in writing? What are some tools that we can use to capture and keep the attention of our viewers / listeners? We're envisioning a “birds-eye-view” discussion that focuses on philosophies and broad strategies for developing narrative in non-text media, rather than a nuts-and-bolts discussion about production.

-This is similar to (but probably better than) the Choosing the Media for the Message session I proposed. @MJBwrites
- Also has similarities to suggested ARG session below. Zen
-I agree this is a great idea and similar to the Choosing the Media... one. Perhaps they can be combined and then the session split between how to use narrative in those forms and then how to determine which media type is best for your narrative. I'm happy to help in developing this one with my multimedia background if it's helpful. -@tarahaelle

Quantifying benefits of science art (Matt Shipman)

I love science art, but know that I need to be able to demonstrate benefits in order to get funding for science art projects (or to include science art in other projects). I wrote about the subject here ( ) and found that a lot of scientists and artists are wrestling with similar questions/challenges. What can we do to collect meaningful data on this and subject it to quantitative analysis? Who would want to be involved, or need to be involved? How can we fund these efforts? Lots of questions, and some good ideas already. Let's move this conversation forward!

These Are Empirical Questions (or, These Questions We Keep Asking Have Answers) -- Melanie Tannenbaum (@melanietbaum) and Jason Goldman (@jgold85) **

Many SciO attendees ask questions about effective communication strategies and how to be persuasive, but a lot of these conversations end up being based around anecdotes and personal experiences. Well, we're psychologists -- turns out we have data on this sort of thing! We still need to refine a specific plan, but broadly we want to discuss some of the studies that have been done in the realm of cognition, communication, risk perception, etc. and drop some knowledge bombs about persuasion on this joint. Possible that this could be part of a two-part (or multi-part) series with Liz Neeley (@LizNeeley) and others who have expressed interest in a more empirical approach to persuasion/communication studies.
  • Matt Shipman (@ShipLives), here. Realized I proposed a similar idea re: the science of scicomm (though I'm primarily interested in how scicomm research can help us measure outcome/impact). Deleted most of it, keeping some relevant bits here. I write about some of the emerging work in the field at Communication Breakdown (as well as some classic studies), but I’d love to get the perspectives of other conference attendees. What are exciting areas in the scicomm research field right now? What areas do we feel are being overlooked? How has research in this arena affected the work being done by science communicators at the conference? To what extent do researchers work with active members of the scicomm community to identify research topics? May be worthwhile to bring in some researchers in the field (online or in person), such as Dietram Scheufele, Andy Binder, Anthony Dudo, et al.
  • I'd love to help with this from the perspective of a scientist-turned-writer interested in exploring the social dynamics (politics, psychology, media, communication, policies, etc.) of controversies involving science -- Melissae Fellet (@mfellet)
  • Just voicing my complete support for this idea, and please please please let's devote more than just an hour to this. Multi-part series? Fantastic. Do that. Hell, make it a track! - Ed Yong
  • I love, love love this. I suggested bringing Dan Kahan or the Yale Climate Communication Project folks as a Converge, too. I second Ed's idea to make it a track. - Jacquelyn Gill
  • I'd love to help with this, as a psychologist, and as someone who does some outreach in terms of translating cognitive science research into educational contexts. - Cedar Riener
  • I second and third and fourth what Ed said. This whole area is SO rich. But may I push back against the topic itself as it is framed above, just a bit, because it implies that somehow there is a way to get people to accept and agree with THE ANSWERS, and the evidence on cognition says we can get closer, but not all the way there. that idea is stuck in the deficit model of communication...that when people have all the information, well-communicated, they'll 'get it'. Interestingly, this assumption itself denies the mountains of empirical evidence from a number of fields - neuroscience psychology, sociology, economics - that human cognition doesn't work that way. So this track might also include a session on WHY people don't perceive empirical information empirically. What are the cognitive barriers that, no matter how well or persuasively things are communicated, turn the facts into our feelings. So here's a corollary topic; Since better communication, a great goal, can only take us so far, How far can science communication go in helping the public understand "the facts". And, curiously, as evidenced by the topic above, this track could discuss why is it so hard for scientists, AND science journalists and communicators, to accept that people are going to be 'irrational' no matter what the empirical evidence says and no matter how well communicated it is. I'd LOVE to present something as part of that discussion. (My background is; journalist, author, blogger, Instructor at Harvard, on the sciences(including Cultural Cognition) that explain risk perception.)
    DavidRopeik @dropeik
  • I dig this idea too, as well as Ed's suggestion that it might be worthy of its own track. Personally, I think it would be worth discussing ethical implications of the answers to some of the empirical questions. For example, we can find out that method X is a generally successful way to persuade people, but we might also feel like there's something not-quite-right about using that effective strategy of persuasion to manipulate others rather than doing some hard work to change the larger environment in which people are being persuaded or not. (This is another iteration of the usual debate about which bits of a system are assumed to be constant and which are assumed to be tweakable.) My hunch is that at least some resistance amongst science communicators and outreach folks to Jedi mind tricks comes from our ethical worries ... so, maybe we should look those right in the face. Janet D. Stemwedel @docfreeride
  • There's also good research in realm of health communication here - two folks at UNC's school of journalism / interdisciplinary health comm are Nori Comello & Seth Noar. Stephanie Brown / CogSciLibrarian

Ask an entrepreneur (Brent Neal, TBD)

Based on a tweet from @loveofscience, this panel will provide an opportunity for people interested in starting their own business to ask questions of the (un)successful entrepreneurs in the audience. I can start off sharing the basics of a business plan, the pros and cons of different funding models (and what expectations should be from your investors) and my own experiences starting my own company. Hopefully someone who is currently running their own business can participate as well. (@eiorns?)

What’s the Deal with Embargoes? (Matt Shipman, Ivan Oransky?, John Rennie?)

ScienceOnline did a session on embargo-driven journalism in 2011, but there are three reasons to have another session on embargoes in 2014. 1). I had at least six conversations about embargoes at Scio13 – and a lot of people don’t know what they are, why some institutions require them, and why some people hate them so much. 2). There are a lot of questions about the relationship between embargoes and open access (if there is one – and I think there is). 3). 2012 saw an increase in discussion about the need for embargoes, and new OA journal eLife launched with a promise to never embargo its articles. It will be interesting to see how eLife has fared, and how that discussion has evolved, over the course of 2013.
Seeing as embargoes are still with us for the foreseeable future, I'd like to politely suggest that they aren't all bad; there can be some advantages to them. @klb8s
--- Agreed. Many don't know what they are, how they work or why we have them (which would entail explaining the pros), and others don't understand why some people dislike them (which would mean addressing the cons). @ShipLives
---I'm interested in this from a publishing perspective: I'm the outreach director of F1000Research, and we publish all articles before peer review. So, by definition, the articles are already online at the time they pass peer review. We obviously can't embargo anything, and even if we do a press release for newly accepted papers, they will have been online for a while. I'm trying to get a sense of how we can best notify science writers of new articles in this system, so I'm curious to hear what people perceive as the main benefits of embargoes. Also curious how other journals fare without embargoes, but under traditional review processes. @easternblot

Science blogging for the very young / encouraging children to blog about science

I'm suggesting this because I think it might make an interesting topic or sounding board for adoption into another session. Since I don't do either I'm not suitable to help out on the session so feel free to delete if I've missed the spirit of the wiki :) @JoBrodie

Let's Get Mutualistic: Ask an Undergrad - Sarah Keartes @sarahkeartes, Catherine Owsik @kasianotkesha, Shannon Palus @shanpalus, Kaitlin Vandemark @kvandemark & Nicholas St.Fleur @nicholasstfleur (Moderators TBD)

The undergrads of ScienceOnline2013 ([[#|[[#|[[#|#scio13_youngins]]]]]]) come together once again to facilitate an open discussion and think tank. This "unconference"-style session will not only give a voice to the newbies of ScienceOnline, but allow for educators, journalists, and scientists to bounce around new ideas. We have experienced the performance, now it's time for some feedback and revision!

We love to learn from you—what can you learn from an open Q&A with the next generation?

Potential Topics (*Please add any that come to mind)

  • Hashtags in the classroom, a follow up to the 2013 session--what is working and what is not?
    • Undergraduates will share their experience with professors attempting to integrate social media into courses
      • Stephanie Brown / CogSciLibrarian: I'd *love* to see a session where current undergraduates talk about their use of social media - what are they using, and for what purpose? (ie, facebook for fun, twitter for networking, or whatever). I've attended great sessions where we librarians / adults ask undergraduates to talk about their use of the library - it's fascinating. See a panel
        I moderated: Undergrads @ UNC: Who Are They & How Do They Use the Library
        Sarah Keartes @sarahkeartes--That's great! That is the conversation we want to have! I really think we can all benefit from hearing from each other as we are all using social media as a platform for learning and connecting.

Editors, publications, journalists:
  • What publication business models appeal to our demographic?
  • What are we looking for in tablet content?
  • Evolving business models for publication
    • Single article downloads, web subscriptions, etc.
    • Content--will we pay for it, and what will keep us committed?
      • Many of us get access to publications through our universities, yet we continue to pay for our favorite subscriptions—what makes an issue “worth it”?
    • What keeps us loyal to a brand as publications transition into tablet and online editions?


2014 Undergraduates:

Make Friends, Influence People, and Travel the World! Social Media can Change Your Life! - Joanne Manaster (@sciencegoddess) + Jessica Morrison (@ihearttheroad)

I've gone from obscure university educator to someone who is sought out to travel and share cool science projects via new media on a regular basis. I'm looking to do this session with others who have similar trajectories by just being on social media and making it work successfully. We can talk about how to grow an audience, although I don't have a particular formula, but certain things do bump a following significantly.

Fighting "Bullshit Burnout" -- Michelle Sipics (@michellesipics) + Emily Anthes (@emilyanthes)

Even the most patient (and passionate) science communicator can get frustrated or furious after the thousandth time someone confidently tells them that vaccines cause autism or climate change is a myth. Months or years of this can lead to the dreaded "Why do I bother" mindset, where burnout becomes a serious possibility. We talk a lot about how to engage with people who buy into woo, but maybe it's time to talk about how to keep ourselves sane in the process. How do you fight bullshit burnout?
  • I've found some peace in learning the social studies of science that explain patterns that keep playing themselves out. I'd be happy to contribute to this session. -- Melissae Fellet (@mfellet)
  • I have devoted a fair amount of time to trying to dispell certain myths in education, like learning styles. I'd be happy to add my perspective here. I would say that I try to engage the values underpinning the myths, rather than treat the myths as simply misconceptions. - Cedar Riener (@criener)

Spinning facts into narratives -- how to write a science story -- Psi Wavefunction (@PsiWavefunction) + [someone who actually knows how?]

We are said to be narrative creatures. While artful exposition can be pleasant to read in its own right, there is a particular "oomph" that comes out of an article or blog post (etc) that actually tells a coherent story, and for some of us, it's not entirely clear how to concoct a plot, a non-fiction narrative rather than just an interesting encyclopaedia article. Would be nice to hear from those who spin stories well, if there's some technique or tips for this.
  • Willing to volunteer for this. (Charles)
  • Video too? I'd be up for that. @laminda

I'm inspired! Now what? -- Haley Bridger (@haleybridger) + [fellow ScienceOnline enthusiast?]

You came to ScienceOnline. You found your people. And in less than three days, you'll be leaving. How do you keep the conversation going after the last session ends? What can you bring back to your fellow scientists, your organization's PIOs, or your university/institution/friends and family? Brainstorm how to bring the messages and big ideas back, and think about how to keep the momentum going until the next un-conference.

Breaking In: Why and How to Pitch Puny Pieces [title = work in progress] -- Dave Mosher (@davemosher) + Maggie Koerth-Baker (@maggiekb1)

Whether you're a newbie eying freelance science writing, or a rising writer seeking new clients, pitching feature-length stories isn't a great way in. Proposing short items first can work wonders, and we'll explore concrete examples to learn best practices together -- through your anonymous pitch letters. Before attending, submit a pitch for a 500-word-or-less story, based on a press release + study we post to the web a few days before the session. Then we'll examine key pitches to highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly using the editorial hive mind present in the room.
NOTE: This proposal sprang out of a session on freelancing at SciO13. A lot of people in the room asked about basic pitching techniques, and how they could eventually land big assignments in popular science outlets. Fwiw, I've also noticed that most "how to pitch" workshops focus on feature-length pitches -- not the highly valuable craft of pitching shorter pieces. (Dave Mosher)
  • While I think this is a reasonable strategy for breaking in, I think you do have to acknowledge how little front-of-book pays relative to features, and devote some attention to how/whether the finances of doing small/FOB work or don't.(Maryn McKenna)
    • Absolutely. We won't argue "write only small stuff," but rather "small stuff leads to big stuff." Although there are ways to freelance only small stuff -- and make a decent living (maybe I'll provide an old freelance accounting spreadsheet as an example?) -- the intent is to show how short pieces are the best way to land longer, better-paying, and more satisfying assignments. I.e. Through building writer-editor relationships, generating feature ideas from a lot of interviews, creating an impressive portfolio on/experience in a topic, etc. (P.S. Maryn, if this session is picked, we'd love to hear your voice in the crowd.) (Dave Mosher)
  • How small: 150-worders, or 500-worders? (Charles Q. Choi)
    • 500 words or less(?). Having seen both sides of print and web (writer + editor), I think this category would capture the basic principles of pitching. But I'm open to suggestions and curious what MKB thinks. (P.S. Same for you, Charles -- please lend your brain to this session if it's picked!) (Dave Mosher)
  • Related note: Is it time for SciO to have a Pitchslam? For those to whom that's unfamiliar: You put a panel of editors at the front of the room, you put a mic in the audience, and brave writers stand up and give a 60-second pitch; then the editors critique it both generally and relative to their pub. (Maryn McKenna)
    • Love the pitch-slam idea - Ed
    • Brilliant idea. I chewed on proposing such a thing for Scio13, but I dropped the ball (I'll spare the excuses). Maybe we should scrap the above session/workshop idea for a pitch slam, or -- I think this would be better -- do the pitching session first (to empower folks with knowledge) and then do a pitch slam the next day (so they can use what they learned). I'd be willing to tease a small spot in Popular Science for a good story pitch. We might even style the slam in the format as that TV show "The Voice"? (I can already see it now: "The Pitch"!) (Dave Mosher)

The structure of short-form science writing (John Timmer)

Forget careful narrative and free-form blog ramblings. Most science is described in pieces that have severe constraints on time-to-produce or word counts; it's less Mozart or Coltrane and more The Ramones. How do you deal with the limitations of this format without sacrificing information or quality, or relying on awkward structures like the inverted pyramid? We'll try to discuss ways to remain creative despite the lack of space, and how to make critical decisions on what to cut in order to maintain a coherent flow of ideas in a compact piece.
  • Matt Shipman here (@ShipLives): I love this idea. Useful for reporters, institutional writers (PIOs, institutional bloggers) and researchers (e.g., when writing "one-pagers" for funding agencies).
  • Charles Choi here (@cqchoi): I moved this up to be next to the "puny pieces" pitch, so that you guys can maybe work together, or differentiate what you want to do.
  • They're focusing on pitching a story; this focuses on writing it once the pitch is accepted. (JT).
  • Great idea @MJBwrites

Coming up with story ideas -- Charles Q. Choi (@cqchoi), Ed Yong (@edyong209)

[Ooh me me me, pick me. - Ed Yong @edyong209] [Done! (@cqchoi)]
Where do science writers get story ideas? We'll go from the most basic areas (press release sites) to major journals (discussing the concept of embargoes to those unfamiliar with the notion) to more esoteric journals (listing some examples) to other traditional sources (such as conferences, field trips, etc.) to other story types (explanatory pieces, historical pieces, science angles on national non-science stories, science business stories, science policy stories, memoirs/personal narratives, listicles, image galleries, etc.). It might be interesting to explore pieces that might perhaps be described as gonzo science journalism, e.g. Drunk Science, and the significant dilemmas of journalistic ethics (and personal ethics) such endeavors can involve.
  • I have a horror story for whomever ends up doing this session, involving a toddler, grandmother, unregulated cell-based therapy, doctors, and the poor journalist who had to decide whether or not to cover it. -@Rocza
  • This is good. Part of this could involve how to reject story ideas that get sent your way. - Ed
  • Yes, there is a special art in figuring out when a story's not what you thought it was, or not going to pan out, or turn out to be a giant horrible mess. A large part of the task of finding a good story idea is figuring out what is a bad story idea, which is definitely a point that should be raised. -- CQC
  • Yes, please! As a relatively new science writer, I'd find this type of session very useful...I know how it works for other areas I cover, but would love to hear about it from an experienced group of science journalists. - @TamaraKrinsky

Finding Support for Your Passion Project - Neil Losin (@neillosin) and Indre Viskontas (@indrevis)

We all have ideas for “passion projects” – projects that, in a world without deadlines or bills to pay, we would *totally* do. But how can we actually make these projects happen? In this session, we can talk about outside-the-box funding sources, including crowdfunding, cultivating foundation support and strategies for getting people (especially, but not limited to, people with money) excited about your project. We can also discuss ways to stay motivated and make progress on a passion project, even when you have lots of other things (e.g. paid work) competing for your attention. Neil has had success with the “no-budget” / “spare time” model, crowdfunding through Kickstarter, and convincing a beer company to fund his science outreach, Indre has successfully garnered support from foundations and grants. Among the Scio14 community, we are sure there are folks who have gotten *way* outside the box to find support for their passion projects – let’s hear from you!

Oh, $#!+, I'm going to graduate eventually! How can I make myself more appealing to employers? - Brent Neal (@BrentN) and TBD (maybe a bio academic?)

Let's face it: your academic career most likely has a fixed term. For most scientists, a tenure-track academic position is no longer an option. So, without advocating for the mass extermination of existing faculty, how do you maximize your potential for employment once you get out? The choices you make early in your academic career can have a marked effect on your chances of landing the job that you want. The goal for this session is for people who are starting out to network and ask questions of people who have been successful landing business/industrial or non-traditional academic careers. This panel is intended to be complementary to the "Breaking in" panel, for people who don't necessarily want to be freelance writers. Possible co-consipirators include @docfreeride, anyone from the Nature Research Center, e.g. @dragonflywoman2.
  • I particularly would like to talk about what I've seen separating good resumés from outstanding ones from my perspective as a hiring manager, as well as how your science-blogging gig might be helpful to the right employer -- @BrentN
  • I'm at an engineering company that looks for people with research experience but who can also function in a very business-oriented environment. I've gone through a lot of resumes and a number of phone and in-person interviews that've taught me what I did wrong when I ​was looking for a job. -@Sargent
  • I know the emphasis of this should probably be on jobs outside academia, but I'm an academic in a small liberal arts college, and have helped a few people with their job search process at my type of institution. I'd be happy to help with this in any way needed. - Cedar Riener (@criener)
  • I'm in industry now, obtained a tenure-track position at a liberal arts college after grad school and would be happy to contribute to this conversation (@redwngblkbrd)

What the $%*&@$ does this contract say--and is it negotiable? -- Hillary Rosner (@hillaryrosner)

Anyone publishing a science story has to sign a contract. And the terms can be overwhelming and confusing--and different from one publication to the next. Many young writers, or those just starting out, are so excited to receive a contract that they barely even read it. Yet they might be signing away their copyright, their right to legal protection, and who knows what else. This session would be a nitty-gritty how-to primer on dealing with contracts. What do the different terms mean? What makes a good versus a bad contract? Which parts are negotiable, and how should you go about trying to make changes to what seem like egregious terms?
  • definitely in support of this idea - Maryn
  • As someone who has stood behind him while he worked his magic, Carl Zimmer would be awesome for this. His negotiation-fu is trong. - Ed
  • would love to hear this -- how can I support faculty in their contract negotiations, especially efforts to retain copyright. Stephanie Brown CogSciLibrarian
  • Every writer--or content creator--could benefit from this. I fully support this idea and would love to get involved on any level. @abbykoons (lit agent)
  • Hillary, I would love to partake in this session. I've fought dozens of fights for sensible contracts: good fights and stupid fights and confusing fights. Both as a freelancer and, now, as an editor doling out assignments. I'm willing to share a boatload of real-world contracts with the class, if you'd like (although I'd have to redact the names of titles). We could highlight some egregious clauses and some reasonable clauses to boot. Let me know how I can help! (Dave Mosher)

Covering the patent literature: who owns what and what does it mean? -- Brent Neal (@BrentN)

Issues around the US patent system keep cropping up in the science news. As writers and scientists, its critical to understand how to read a patent and how to understand what a patent actually covers. With the patent system in the state that it is in, we will see more and more patents in the future that are overreaching. Having some basic tools in the belt to analyze these patents will be valuable for writing well-informed articles, fact-checking PRs and interviewees, starting a new line of research in a heavily patented field, and figuring out which people or companies own the dominant position in an area. Proposed topics include: what is patentable? (novelty, utility, non-obviousness), how to read a set of claims, types of patents (composition of matter, article of manufacture, process, product-by-process,) right to practice/clearance, free and non-free tools and resources.

I see two ways of doing this - as a panel where folks who have spent time working in this space answer questions after a brief introduction to the patent system or as a workshop. If a workshop, I'd bring in a few patents that we'd then take apart, and I'd share some tools I've built to dissect particularly complicated patents.

Culturomics --Melody (@moximer) + [other-folks-who-do-this]

In the last five years, "culturomics", a suite of techniques for studying culture through the lens of big data (and particularly, big web data), has exploded. Whether it's using Twitter trends to forecast an election, revealing "what women want" through online dating profiles, or helping consumers navigate the mysterious world of wine retail, scholars and journalists alike are uncovering a whole new way of examining the social world around them. The best part? Many of the applications are open source and user-friendly, so you don't need to be a skilled programmer to get your feet wet.
-- You know, you should totally get Erez Lieberman to do this with you, since he basically invented culturomics. Lovely guy, hella smart, would fit in well. - Ed Yong

Gender and science media -- Shannon Palus (@shanpalus) + [TBD, maybe you?]

From newsrooms that can be described as "boy's club"s, to the chilly climate that pervades academic classrooms, to tech conferences with weak-to-no anti-harassment policies, to pink-washed science toys, to Nature's editorial on featuring more female scientists — how do we talk about sexism in the science media? As journalists, bloggers, tweeters, we hold power to uphold or break down outdated notions of what a scientist does or doesn't look like, who does or doesn't get to speak. Discuss best practices for handling issues of gender and equality as they relate to science — whether that's the focus of the story, or not.
  • Happy to help out with this - there are a lot of papers / projects that spring to mind that could be useful as starting points, and would help with making #scio14 more evidence-based as has been suggested elsewhere. It's something I think about when I report/write, so I'd love to hear what others think too! -- Kelly Oakes, @kahoakes
  • Be happy to help with this, too. I actually did that whole "professional blogger" thing with the Women's Bioethics Blog for a few years, and the point was largely to highlight the gendered nature of science, ethics, etc. -@Rocza

Thinking In Pictures -- suggested by Mindy Weisberger (@laminda)

A good writer can craft a scene in cinematic detail, using words to help the reader see characters, settings, and actions with perfect clarity. But sometimes words don't translate so easily into images—especially when they're describing scientific processes or summarizing research results. How do you make that leap from a paragraph (or a paper) to a video, animation, illustration, or comic? How do you go about imagining—and then creating—an image-based metaphor? What are the methods that artists use to translate concepts or actions into pictures (moving or still), and then how are those images put together to create a meaningful story? Examples, elements of inspiration, and hands-on exercises (workshop?) will jump-start visual thinking—which might even make you a better writer.

Software, apps and techniques for organizing books and big stories — Maryn McKenna (@marynmck) and TBD

I'll fill this out later, but as a placeholder: I counted four Scio13 sessions in which people who want to write big, but were panicked or lost about how to do it, asked about database apps for organizing books and longform. This was discussed at Scio12 but, given how many people are new since then (and will be new again next year), it sounds as though there is an appetite to explore it afresh. Possible topics: DevonThink, Scrivener, Aeon Timeline, OmniOutliner, Sente/Papers, Apple Scripts. Possible co-conspirators: Holly Tucker, Seth Mnookin, David Dobbs.
  • Love this idea. Am a longtime DevonThink user myself and would love to see how others are using it. —@MarkZastrow

Workshop: Visualizing Mathematics and Data (for mathy and non-mathy folks) -- Rachel Levy (@mathcirque) and TBD

Do mathematics or data play a role in the topics you communicate? Do you use mathematics and data in your research? Want to convey mathematical and data-focused ideas effectively? In this workshop we will practice visualizing mathematical and data-driven information so that you can communicate in a variety of clear and compelling ways. We will also explore effective ways to combine visualizations with verbal descriptions. The workshop will be accessible to folks with any level of mathematical background coming from any field.
  • We had a couple of great discussions along these lines, Rachel. I'd love to help out. -- @BrentN

Shy Girls (& Guys) Guide to Networking – Cristy Gelling (@CristyGelling) & Rebecca Guenard (@BGuenard)

There are people who find it easy to build an online community and have no problem meeting their virtual friends in the real world. They meet their heroes at ScienceOnline without freaking out. They speak up in ScienceOnline sessions. They get themselves noticed. They know everybody! Even though you are not one of those bold, unencumbered people you don't have to go it alone. In this session we will share strategies for overcoming shyness and building stronger connections in our networks.
  • I love this idea, but wanted to say (as someone who I suspect will be considered "bold and unencumbered") that quite often, the visible ones are still shy! This could tie in nicely with the impostor syndrome session? (Themed tracks again?) -@Rocza
  • Totally agree that the bold and unencumbered (sounds like a daytime soap) can be shy too. I think it's way more common and more crippling than you'd guess based on the volume levels at the ScienceOnline social events. I just want to add that I found my first ScienceOnline to be a uniquely terrifying experience because everyone else seemed to already be best friends, but thankfully I got over it fast enough to find out that it's a pretty welcoming crowd - Cristy

Creating a culture of outreach in academia- David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) and Neil Hammerschlag (@DrNeilHammer)

At ScienceOnline2013, numerous participants in the science outreach sessions reported that their PIs and departments weren't supportive of their outreach activities. Our experience has been the opposite. Our lab, the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is focused on outreach. We take over 1,000 high school students a year into the field to participate in our long-term shark research program, and our website ( contains educational webinars, links, and even a "Virtual Expedition". 1/2 of David's Ph.D. research assistantship is running our lab's social media outreach efforts. We will discuss the obstacles that other scientists face, as well as the strategies that have made this possible for us.

(Jeanne Garbarino here (jeannegarb) - I would be happy to contribute to this in any way. I am currently running outreach efforts for Rock U (biomedical research), and work with K-12 students and teachers)

Bringing your scientific professional society into the social media age- David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) and Marianne Alleyne (@Cotesia1)

Scientists, does your professional society have a social media policy? Is conference live-tweeting encouraged, or do most of the senior members not know what it is? Do they have a Facebook fan page or twitter account? Do they have a modern website?
  • David was recently elected to a national-level leadership position in the American Elasmobranch Society because of his social media experience, and his responsibilities include online outreach.
  • Marianne has served at very levels of leadership of the Entomological Society of America and is currently the co-chair for the Society's Annual Meeting Program Committee.
At this session, we will discuss successes, strategies, and obstacles to bringing scientific professional societies into the digital age.

Social media as a scientific research tool - David Shiffman (@WhySharksmatter) and TBD

Social media can be a powerful tool for scientific research in of itself. To date, twitter has been used to track the spread of diseases (and not just the #Scioflu), monitor people's attitudes towards proposed political policies, and much more. Facebook has been used to study how publicly sharing health and fitness goals influences the success rates of those goals. There are many more examples as well. At this session, we will discuss how to use social media for scientific research in addition to an outreach and education tool.
  • I love this!! Don't know if it would be possible for me to co-moderate given that I'm proposing more SciComm Studies sessions, but I'd love to help out with this if you'd like. I have some friends doing research using Twitter and Facebook, so I could easily get some input from them on the pros & cons, how they've done it, what sorts of things can be done, etc. (Melanie)

Time sensitive alert! A Google Plus hangout on this subject is planned for Saturday, 9 February 2013 at 12 noon Eastern time. More details are here. (Initiated by Zen Faulkes.)

Big Brother is Watching! - Emily Finke @seelix and TBD (possibly @para_sight?)

Talking about Controversial Topics Under the Nose of Censorship: How do you blog about climate change when your institution's major donor is an oil magnate? How do you still effectively teach geology to Scouts when their troop leaders are creationists? In an ideal world, we don't need to worry about censorship on the topics that are so important to us. If you find that ideal world, let the rest of us know. In this one, sometimes we need to use a little more sleight of hand. Particularly when we aren't the primary decision makers in the process.
Possible Questions:
  • *What has worked/not worked in getting controversial topics in around restrictions?
  • *When does it become too much?When does the need to be precise trump the need to cater to your sponsors/donors? (E.g., I can use relative time and amount of time speciation takes to teach paleontology, but I absolutely can *not* teach that the Biblical flood happened, or even gloss over questions about it.
Session Goal: Create a list of tips and tricks that could be fleshed out to become a discussion guide for educators and institutional bloggers.

Confronting Our Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia: In Defense of Jargon - Christie Wilcox (@NerdyChristie) and Stephen Granade (@Sargent)

The use of jargon is often linked with bad communication. While science communicators need to be clear to define the words they use and keep their audience in mind when they write, jargon has become a piñata to be batted around far more than it needs to be. For example, at Science Online 2013, scientist bloggers were accused of "dropping textbooks" when they write, and when a scientist asked how to help journalists and be a better ally, the only response she got was to "use less jargon." But jargon is just a short-hand way of expressing a complex concept, and science communication is all about unpacking these concepts for a non-expert audience. Jargon is a tool like any other: its badness is in how you use it. At this session we want to talk about constructive ways to use jargon and talk about the bigger question of how you unpack dense information for your audience.
  • I, Jacquelyn Gill (@JacquelynGill) had just logged on to suggest this very session, and would be happy to help! I think it would be so very awesome to move away from the "jargon" framework for bad science communication, and towards effective/ineffective writing as a framework. Jamie Vernon and I had talked about how it would be really useful to have some 101 and 201 (or 1.0 and 2.0, etc.) structures where the basics could be covered in one session, and a more advanced discussion could happen in the other. This might be a opportunity to use of such a structure.
    • Absolutely! I'd like this to move beyond "GRR! JARGON!" / "YAAY! JARGON!" to discussing how you deal with explaining the meaning that jargon has. Talking basic structures would be a great way to do just that. -@Sargent
    • I too (Rachael Ludwick / @R343L)was going to suggest a session on jargon and when it's useful ... and then heard that Jacquelyn was going to ... and then saw this. As a layperson, I usually enjoy learning words to describe concepts. Jargon is clearly necessary to describe and communicate ever more complex systems. This is true in my own actual field (software) and it seems like it's true in science in general (let's just say: it's critical for complicated everything). If we want laypeople to understand science, we have to ask them to learn some jargon. I second the idea that really we're talking about effective communication. That said, software people (and I suspect all people) are found of inventing words, sometimes when it's really not needed. It might be good to have some nod to discussing how to introduce jargon effectively and detect when a paper or researcher is creating new jargon that isn't really useful.
    • Just remembered (Rachael again): it might be awesome to do a round the room thing where someone picks a term of jargon they think is important and useful in their field and tries to explain it aloud. The explanation shouldn't be dumbed down but it shouldn't make many assumptions about the listeners' knowledge. Then folks who aren't in that field say what they didn't understand in the explanation or how to make the explanation better. Or even add hypothetical listeners like "child", "teenager", "museum goer", etc. Basically, let's practice making jargon work for science communicators.
    • I think there are some great opportunities here to triangulate *ducks head* and show how to use education-on-the-sly to redeem certain bits of jargon into useful tools for communication. A (bad) example here, due to its age and spread is "URL." Perhaps a more relevant example is how the folks I work with had not heard of a QSAR - that is, quantitative structure-activity relationship. In the space of about 6 months, a few of us taught them enough for the business folks to know that asking the scientists if they needed to construct one was a good thing. -- @BrentN

The online science writing ecosystem: we all contribute to craft and content - Kate Clancy (@KateClancy) and Sarah Webb (@sarahwebb)

Sometimes journalists forget that scientists are part of the online science writing ecosystem, and their discussions of craft exclude scientists. Sometimes scientists forget that journalists are part of the online science writing ecosystem, and their discussions of content exclude journalists. Feelings get hurt, angry tweets get sent, while one side is oblivious to the harm caused to the other. It seems to me that we have a lot to learn from each other, and a lot to gain by putting positive attention on working together. My main (@KateClancy's) main questions are:
  • What cultural differences could be discussed for shared understanding?
  • What infrastructure or shifts in our communities would help us build a more symbiotic ecosystem?
  • What are our common goals? What are our non-overlapping goals? How can clarifying this lead to more productive conversations and achieving these goals?
  • I think this is a really important session, and would love to help! About 4-5 times when introducing myself to a journalist or writer at Scio13, I was given a puzzled look and asked "why are you here?" As a stakeholder, a communicator, and someone with an obligation to do outreach, I would have thought that was obvious, and it made me sad. I'd love to see us move to a more integrated conversation than the scientist/journalist debates have been (it's an unproductive framework, and SciO is the place for it to happen if anywhere!), and I think the questions listed here are a great way to do that. - @JacquelynGill ETA: The "why are you here?" wasn't malicious as much as confused.
  • I had much the same experience as @JacquelynGill. There is a lot of opportunity for the integrated conversation here and an ecosystem model is something I think is worth cultivating. -- @BrentN

An intolerance for intolerance: how to support and engage with overlapping communities - Kate Clancy (@KateClancy) and TBA (@seelix? @kejames?)
  • I would love to do this! - Seelix

Comment moderation and #trollerderby are fantastic ways to shut down specific instances of sexist trolling. But what about more systemic problems, like when science bloggers and journalists take on animal rights activists, men's rights activists, climate change, GMO foods, the skeptic movement? Sometimes it's a surprise to find you struck a nerve and are suddenly getting hate mail. But many of us are part of these reader communities where there is systemic hatred against one group -- and often that group is any woman who dares to speak up in it, regardless of whether or not what she is saying is provocative.

For those of us who find ourselves suddenly in these groups, or those of us who are long time lurkers in these groups (@KateClancy - I have been a reader but not participant in the skeptic community for years) -- what can we do to change the culture? How can we bring what we have learned from our experiences in the science writing ecosystem to these overlapping communities? How can we listen and support targeted leaders? How can we show our intolerance for the intolerance of trolls?

Auction for Student Travel - TBD

This is a suggestion for the banquet part of the program. Many different societies raise a good chunk of money for student travel costs via an auction. Attendees (and others) donate some item - be it physical or otherwise (I've seen everything from first prints of classic papers to week-long sailboat adventures). It's auctioned off by some charismatic fast talking and funny auctioneer - I'm sure we could brainstorm this. And there can even be other shenanigans, such as a 'Vanna' figure or otherwise. Donations are tax deductible (since Science Online is a 501c3). The live auction portion usually works best for 'big ticket' items, while a parallel silent auction can be held as well. Note: this is an organizational and paperwork challenge. Many societies have their student committees run it - and, heck, it might be worth seeing if such a student committee could be created. I'm sure it would be naught but a force for good - and lightening the administrative load otherwise. FYI, I've (@jebyrnes) been involved in running this for WSN before and am happy to share my experiences.

Game Room (suggested by Sandra Porter, @digitalbio)

This is an organizational request, not a session proposal. It would be really wonderful to have a designated room for playing science-related games. This wouldn't need to open all the time - maybe just a few hours on one day.
  • This is a really great idea! Maybe it could also showcase the science apps that aren't games too. I liked hearing about the Science Kids app at scio13, and I'd love to be able to show more people my game, Amoeboid. -Katie (@beatricebiology)
  • Might also be an opportunity to go after a sponsor, i.e. company to donate iPads or tablets on which to play the games. - @TamaraKrinsky

Games at night (suggested by Sandra Porter, @digitalbio)

These could be evening activities. We could have some science card games like Phylomon (from David Ng) and Boneyard (Diane Kelly), trivia games or questions (is there a science Trivial Pursuit?) - maybe we could play as teams?, and board games at night or in the bar. I think this might be a good way to involve some of the more introverted people and help them feel more comfortable with the crowd.

Keynote or Converge session suggestion (suggested by Sandra Porter, @digitalbio)

There is an amazing group in Madison called "Fusion Science Theater" that specializes in using playwriting techniques to communicate science. They would be wonderful! You can see some of the videos of their work on their website.
  • I had some other Converge session ideas: Science Comics (XKCD, PhDComics, Kate Beaton) and Science-of-Sci-Comm folks like Dan Kahan and the Yale Climate Communication Project - @JacquelynGill
  • I would like to see Dan Fagin of NYU considered for a keynote/Converge. His decade-in-the-making book Toms River, about industrial pollution and cancer in New Jersey and around the globe, will be out in spring 2013. Maryn

Impostor Syndrome: What Causes It, How to Manage It, and How to Identify if You Really Are an Impostor (suggested by Michael Lombardi, @AmoebaMike)

To further the discussion from scio13's session, it is important to note that people with impostor syndrome are likely not able to just talk themselves out of this, so we need to share ways in which we can both prevent it from rearing its ugly face and ways to beat it back into submission once it is present. But sometimes you really can be an impostor. How do we go from an impostor to a success? Would love to also hear from people during planning stages that don't experience this or have mostly beaten it.
  • I definitely would love to see this addressed again at SciO14! I wonder if there's an actual psychologist in the house who could be persuaded to sit on this panel? (Or, is there someone doing research/writing/publishing on this that could actually be a keynote speaker?) One question that I think would be good to see added to the discussion: why do we-as-newbie feel like we should be compared to old-hat-doing-whatever-forever. (Why should someone new at science communication/writing think they should be immediately as awesome and successful as Maryn, for example.) -@Rocza
    • (Maryn adds that, of course, she suffers from impostor syndrome every day of her life. - Maryn)

There's More to Art in Science (suggested by Michael Lombardi,@AmoebaMike)

During scio13, we discussed adding art to science. This art was (almost?) exclusively visual art and almost all of that was drawing. I'd like to show other examples of art in science and give resources on how to find and create art that isn't created with pen, pencil, or stylus. I suggest (@NerdyChristie), who writes science songs, to co-mod).

It's Not You, It's Us: Or Why Journalists and Scientists Can't Be Friends - Jessica Morrison (@ihearttheroad) + Kelly April Tyrell (@kellyperil)
ScienceOnline brings together scientists, educators, science writers and journalists each year, without the established boundaries of traditional conferences. As the lines between relationships personal and professional are blurred, the restrictions of journalistic practice can be misinterpreted. Trust is redefined. Journalists need good scientists. Scientists want reliable journalists. But journalists and their scientist sources cannot be friends. It's nothing personal, but journalists live and die by the adage -- if your mother says she loves you, check it out. Join us in a discussion of how journalists and scientists can learn to get close, without getting too close, and avoid the conflict of interest paramount to our credibility.
  • I like the idea behind this session a lot, but there was some bristling between scientists and journalists at Scio13 that I think this topic could add to depending on how it's handled. There's already a feeling among some scientists that journalists are judging them from a position of power and have some disdain for them, and I'm concerned that framing this topic as "we can't be friends" feeds into that. Journalists and scientists have different goals, and avoiding conflict of interest is important, but scientists aren't just a resource like coal to be mined for journalists' benefit. -@Sargent
  • I'm very interested in this topic, and I agree that the discussion needs to happen. At SciO, we're bringing scientists and journalists together and breaking barriers, in theory. Meanwhile, journalists tell scientists that we need to cultivate relationships with journalists we trust, so how does that jive with comments I hear from journalists that they should never trust any scientist I agree with Sargent that this topic should be tred carefully, because there is the possibility of alienating folks. - @JacquelynGill
  • And then there's this: #Journosplain - @ihearttheroad
  • I think this discussion is extremely useful, and as @JacquelynGill said, being online breaks down barriers. But I'd also argue it breaks down barriers between three key audiences: journalists, PIOs, and scientists. What if we could reframe the topic to be more of something like "using online community-building tools to build relationships between historically divergent groups" or something of that nature? I'm a PIO so I spend a lot of time studying (and frankly, being affected by) this topic and I'm really pleased to see that the online resources used by the ScienceOnline community are breaking down some of these barriers. I'd be really interested in hearing from other PIOs, plus both journalists and scientists, about their experiences. Happy to participate however needed - @mejenwalton

Communicating Science When You're In Industry - Sara Caldwell (@SciencingSara), Stephen Granade (@Sargent), and Brent Neal (@BrentN)

Industrial science comes with a different culture of communication than academia. Most savvy companies manage their online brand tightly and take a dim view of their eggheads creating hassle for the publicity and marketing wonks. This makes it critical for you to understand how to properly engage with the public about your science whilst retaining your employment. Topics that can be covered include: patent law and disclosure, employment agreements (does your company own the rights to your next book?), turning your marketing and PR writers into allies, science in the boardroom (how to talk about science to the businessfolk who employ you), and if you're a science journalist, how to not make industrial scientists uncomfortable answering your questions.

One thought about this topic, we often talk about the pitfalls of science communication in industry, but there are many things that science communication from industry brings that are actually best practices. For instance, we usually have fairly strong routing and review and editorial processes. Companies usually have fairly significant editorial staff (often cut from academic journals and not present at all in many free lance endeavors). I would love to see some focus on the things that industry science communication does really well. (@redwngblkbrd). I'm not sure it's entirely appropriate for this session, but maybe there is room for something about "what we can learn from the corporate communicator".

Academic blogging & social media: risks and rewards (Paul Knoepfler @pknoepfler ).

I enjoy blogging now 2+ years into it and I'm in academia at UC Davis, but there are challenges too. Most of my colleagues won't blog or even use social media. Why? What are the risks and rewards of professors engaging in social media? Should blogging be considered a part of a professor's academic package the way journal pubs are? What happens if professors make controversial statements on their blogs, particularly if they are at odds with their institution's official policies or are about their institution's challenges?
  • It might be interesting to have a co-mod here who has either blogged anonymously due to academic challenges, or someone who has actually suffered professionally from blogging. Also, as a side note, for those who don't recognize Paul's name, he runs the incredibly popular and well-regarded website . - @Rocza
  • Thanks, Kelly. Great ideas. In my own field of stem cells there really aren't any other academic bloggers, but of course there are many great ones who could be wonderful co-mods. I'd love suggestions for co-mods!

Navigating biomedical social media & science writing (Paul Knoepfler @pknoepfler ).

There is a growing amount of science writing and use of social media to report on biomedical and clinical research. This kind of online science writing and discussion is wonderful, but also can be quite challenging. For example, what happens when patients engage writers or bloggers with specific questions about medical treatments or companies offering medical treatments or drugs? What if patients advocate for unlicensed treatments or companies offering unlicensed medical treatments? Such companies also are increasingly using social media themselves to promote medical treatments or to attack critics. Many issues arise including avoiding giving medical advice, possible litigation, patient education and outreach, and ethical dilemmas. I have found myself in the stem cell arena dealing with these complex, important issues, but they apply more broadly to all medical fields. Other possible participants include @leighgturner , @dougsipp , @rocza , and more.

--Great idea! I'm glad to see another session concept w/ more medical focus. (I put some health/med ideas further down, pls comment) @MJBwrites

Building a freelance business, 2014 edition (Jeffrey Perkel @j_perkel).

For Science Online 2013, Maggie Koerth-Baker and Charles Choi did a session on "The Art, Craft, and Business of Freelancing." This is a perennial topic of interest at Science Online, as many recovering scientists, magazine writers, PIOs, and others inevitably contemplate the idea of becoming a freelancer. There's not much to it in theory: Put up an electronic shingle, so to speak, and you're good to go. But how to run the business? What tools do you need? What should you avoid? How do you establish your online presence? How do you stay organized? What about contracts? Incorporating? Billing practices? And so on? This panel will address those and other concerns. (I moderated a panel on this topic at Science Writers 2010, called "Freelancer Hacks," with Amber Dancer, Christopher Mims, and John Pavlus. For 2014, Charles Choi, @cqchoi, has expressed interest, and I would like to find perhaps one additional contributor as well. Another possibility is Irene Klotz, who commented during the 2013 session.)
  • Charles Choi, @cqchoi: would prefer to opt out, as I don't think I have all that much to say about incorporating, contracts, etc. But might chime in from the audience if I'm there.
    • Thanks Charles, much appreciated! -- Jeff
  • If you're looking for people in the middle stages of a freelance career, I'm willing to help (in Jan 2014 it will be 7.5 years for me) - Maryn
    • Maryn, that would be great, thanks!! (I started freelancing in mid-2006, so it'll be 7.5 yrs for me, too.) -- Jeff
  • I could perhaps help out with this from the perspective who is very early in building a freelance career. It's often the start that is most intimidating - researching markets, breaking into markets, learning to write good pitches, networking without coming across as a sycophant or groupie, etc. I could share how I've navigated those areas and moved from having no recent clips in health or science to getting assignments at bigger markets. --Tara @tarahaelle
    • Tara, you'd make a great addition. Maryn and I will both be ~7.5 yrs into freelancing in Jan 2014, so someone with more of a "beginner's" perspective would be wonderful. Thanks! -- Jeff (@j_perkel)

-These sessions are so helpful.Enough material for a half day workshop so folks don't have to miss other sessions, or does that put too much travel/$ obligation on folks and decrease attendance?
  • Hmmm, I like this idea. I think there's no shortage of this kind of helpful info, and perhaps budding freelancers would appreciate the extra attention -- there are many nuances required to set up a business. I'm certainly open to the idea of a workshop rather than a standard session, but having never attended one at SciO -- it requires an extra travel day -- I have no idea what's involved in putting one together. Any suggestions? -- Jeff

Workshop: Talking in front of people -- Stephen Granade (@Sargent) and TBD

A workshop from me and other trained presenter-types going through some tips and exercises on what to do when you have to talk in front of people. We could cover some of the broad topics that are applicable to multiple things such as conference presentations, informal talks, being interviewed on camera (paging Matt Shipman!), etc. In fact, I'd recommend that, if it becomes a workshop, we get info from attendees ahead of time about what kind of talking-in-front-of-people activities they do or are interested in and then shape the workshop to that.
  • It would also be neat to do a workshop on theater and improv skills for public speaking, including the physical stuff like breath, projection, and orientation, but also improv exercises to get you comfortable being onstage and thinking on the fly. - @JacquelynGill
  • I can contribute here. I've got a theatre background, plus classroom & public lecturing experience - @Sciencenotscary
  • I could also contribute. I've experience communicating science on stage in business, academic, and public settings and given in-house coaching sessions on how not to make sucky PPTs. I really like the idea of making it a small workshop with some kind of coaching involved. - @BrentN
  • I'd suggest a couple of large-group general-purpose exercises both for education and to get attendees warmed up, and then more one-on-one or one-on-few interactions with mentors, perhaps themed around sub-topics that people would be interested in. Talking to a small room versus a large ballroom, for example, require different skills. - @Sargent
  • I like the one-on-few/one sub-topics idea. You're right that they are different skills. I'd be most comfortable giving feedback to folks who are looking to do things like "pitching to investors" or "giving a talk for a job interview." - @BrentN
  • We use a "hot seat" exercise in media training to show a room full of people the do's and don'ts of an on-camera interview. A volunteer is interviewed on camera as the entire group watches the camera's output projected large and then we discuss not only what he or she said, but how they came across on camera while doing it. It is always highly rated in our feedback forms. - @klb8s
  • I'd be happy to help with this session, as I used to act in musicals and have given quite a few talks on overcoming anxiety and becoming more comfortable in talking to large crowd - @DavidManly
  • What's the "online" element here? - Zen
    • There is a link to online work (giving on-camera interviews for internet broadcast and creating YouTube videos where you're doing talking-head-style stuff). However, this plays into the broader theme that #scio has been moving towards: communicating science in varied ways. With sessions like #Scio13's "Outreach in Unusual Places" the conference is drawing people who are interested not only in online communication but also offline. -@Sargent
    • This ties in with the session I mentioned earlier about bringing in more of the online video aspect to Scio. I've got a theater background, so if this session were to go in the direction of doing some improv/breathing exercises, I can help out with that. - @TamaraKrinsky

ARG! Alternate Reality Games and science: parallels and prospects (suggested by Zen Faulkes)

Alternate reality games (ARGs) are complex, immersive experiences told across multiple media. Sean Stewart, a writer on several ARGs, has said that these games mimic science (or, to put it another way, that science was the first and best alternate reality game). What are the parallels? Players who are involved in them are extraordinarily engaged with the game, and each other, as ARGs are designed to be played by communities rather than single players. Is there any way that this game genre could be used in science communication?

Scientist/Science Journalist "Speed Dating" (suggested by @JacquelynGill)

Let's bring practicing scientists and science communicators together in a "speed-dating" networking event! Like speed dating, you'd have have one group sitting at one side of a line of tables, with the other group sitting opposite. Each pair would have ~3 minutes to chat and make a connection, and then one side would each move down one table; repeat until every scientist has talked to every journalist. I could also see this structure working for a range of other topics (early career/senior journalists, etc.).
  • CANNOT SAY ENOUGH HOW MUCH I <3 THIS. Maybe could help Ed's welcoming suggestion?—Christie
  • And I honestly cannot say enough how much I would run screaming from this. This is why I suggested something with no icebreakers. - Ed Yong
  • Right! So, I hadn't suggested this as an ice breaker, actually, but a networking event to bring together folks, maybe pitch ideas in a rapid-fire event. - Jacquelyn Gill
  • I also love this and was going to suggest something like it. Would hope it's not quite so stark as scientist/journalist ONLY, because where do people sit who are neither scientist nor journalist? Stephanie Brown, CogSciLibrarian.

Privilege 101/How to be an ally (suggested by @JacquelynGill)

A number of the discussions we have at ScienceOnline (and beyond) involve the concept of privilege and allies, from trolls to diversity in science to impostor syndrome to the risks of blogging as a member of an underrepresented group to effective communication. I think it would be really useful to have a session (or two) for folks on what privilege is, and how recognizing and "unpacking the invisible knapsack " can help us to be better allies. Perhaps this could be broken into two sessions: the first on privilege, which could include some useful exercises and discussions of what that means and how privilege plays out in academia, education, and [[#|[[#|[[#|#scicomm]]]]]], and the second on what makes good allies, and practical things allies can do to help make the internet a better place for science and science communication.
  • A slightly different take on this would be to talk about how to nurture allies and not piss them off before they've even engaged. Kate Clancy and I have talked about this before. Being an ally can be... not easy, and actually the way that privilege is discussed in our circles can significantly contribute to that. - Ed Yong
  • Agreed, Ed. I had wanted but forgotten to add a sentence about having one or more of these sessions be basically "safe space" for folks at the 101 level, so that people who were interested but intimidated felt like they could express their anxieties or questions. I think one important role of allies is to create those spaces, and to gently coach our fellow ___ folks. The alternative, as I've had it expressed to me at Scio13, is that people just avoid certain sessions, and that's not effective. - Jacquelyn Gill
    • I really like the idea of a 101 level panel that's a safe space for people to explore being an ally. -@Sargent

The Welcome Room (suggested by @edyong209)

This isn't a session but don't I remember someone suggesting after scio13 that there should be a space specifically designed to welcome newcomers? Because I've now heard the same refrain this year of feeling isolated and wondering what we can do next year. Ice-breakers are bloody awful. But maybe just a specific space and session where first-timers can gather and at least meet each other, and where veterans can promise to show up to welcome new faces into the mix without the pressure of also wanting to chat to their long-time friends? I'd be up for that, or whatever variant people consider.
  • The Friday lunch 'self-assigned seating' thing was brilliant that way. Whatever table you were at, you had some idea of what everyone there was interested in—conversation starter!—and it was clear from the get-go that wherever you sat down, you weren't crashing a gathering of old friends who hadn't seen each other all year. For me at least, it took a lot of the pressure off approaching a table at lunchtime; especially if you're walking into that enormous room on your own. – Mindy Weisberger
  • I don't remember with whom, but I had a conversation at some point about whether or not a "buddy program" might work well. This year was roughly 1/2 newbies, 1/2 veterans, so it seems like the crowd could be fairly easily paired off. It wouldn't need to be anything super formal, just a randomized (?) pairing off of people (I like the idea of doing it randomly; fits with the idea of everyone being on the same level). You'd get the name/email/Twitter handle of your buddy ahead of time, so you have someone specific for any questions, to meet up with on the first night, someone that newcomers know they can go up to on the first night & then meet whichever group that person is talking to at the bar, etc. I know that many of us know each other from online ahead of time, but I think identifying one specific person that you know you can 100% go to before/during the conference with questions could make it easier to feel comfortable "breaking into" those groups of people. Does that make sense? -- Melanie
  • Not *all* ice breakers are awful... some can be pretty entertaining. But that said, I completely agree with this suggestion. You have things like NASW's AAAS mentoring program, and a similar model might work for SciO. I also overheard a couple people suggest "speed mingling" or something like that - might help with this phenomenon as well, to introduce a bunch of people to a bunch of other people they haven't met yet.—Christie
  • As someone who was recently un-newbie-fied, I think icebreakers would be great! For me, the first gathering at the museum was the most intimidating: you don't know anyone, and everyone seems to be catching up with people they already know. What if we had an icebreaker area at the first event, or like a newbie checkpoint at which to congregate/speed mingle? We wouldn't have to force people to icebreak who didn't want to, but perhaps a fun option? (I would love to help organize this.) -- Shannon
  • I'm on the board of the Association of Health Care Journalists, and we recently instituted a newcomers session (and also optional badge ribbon) at our 500+-person annual conference (modeled I think on a longer-standing practice at NASW. Based on feedback, it worked for us. - Maryn
  • The NEWBIE badge or ribbon has been highly effective for the ScienceWriters conference. With this group, especially, it would ensure that nobody stayed a stranger for long. It also ensures the interactions continue the entire conference, not just during one event.@klb8s
  • Right, so, newbie badges and checkpoints are definitely along the right lines. - Ed
  • I agree with Mindy about the brilliance of the Friday self-assigning lunch. Made talking to new people easy because you all immediately had something in common. Another version of this that I've seen at other conferences: a "Dine Around" dinner event. Instead of being completely on one's own for dinner on Fri night and hoping that a group would come together, the conference pre-arranges reservations for 10-person tables with a whole bunch of Raleigh restaurants. Conference attendees then sign up for a slot at a restaurant they are interested in. Means that if old friends want to go out together they can, but creates an organized option for new people to find a group to meet up with. Perhaps the sign up could even be done online. Or expand on the lunch idea and ask a few people to "host" dinners that anyone can sign up for (everyone pays their own way, of course). - @TamaraKrinsky

Don't say that, say this: Avoiding "fails" when communicating science (suggested by@JacquelynGill and @ejwillingham)

Does it matter if you say "sex" when you really mean "gender?" What does it mean to say that race is a biological construct? Have you noticed that when writing about the science of sex and relationships, you tend to default to heterosexuality as the norm? What is environmental determinism? Do pronouns matter when writing about transpeople (and what's wrong with the word "tranny," anyway)? Are you confused about why someone called you out for saying that autistics are socially awkward? Effective communication isn't just about getting it right, it's about not alienating your readers with (usually unintentionally) dehumanizing or offensive language. This session would be a 101-level workshop about common problematic phrases, why they're not okay, and the appropriate alternatives. We intend for this to be a safe space for folks without a lot of social justice training. Allies are encouraged to attend.

No one reads journal articles. Does it matter? (suggested by Rachael Ludwick / @R343L)

The current primary output of scientific endeavors is a journal article. Ideally, it is a clear description of what question a researcher is trying to answer, how it fits with other research, how they did it and what they learned. In practice, they are hard to get (closed access) and sometimes written so poorly (sometimes due to space constraints) that it's unsurprising no one reads them. News articles often don't link to them. Non-scientist readers aren't expected to look at them. Journalists sometimes don't even read the abstract before writing their stories. But should it be that way? Would science journalism be improved if more lay readers might look at what a study actually says? Would the promise of more people reading papers encourage better writing? The primary products of other fields are readily apparent to non-members: engineers build actual things, software folks make websites people use, doctors interact directly with patients. But the results of most science never directly becomes "a thing". Would it help people to understand that science is an ongoing process if they saw the "savepoints" in the form of journal articles?
-Rachael, I really like this topic. I struggle with this myself when I want undergraduates to read primary literature (or even graduates), I would be happy to help you flesh out the idea. Marianne Alleyne (Cotesia1)

Let's do science outreach and evaluate it to see what works best (suggested by @sandramchung with inspiration from @dwescott1)

ScienceOnline is a great place to meet amazing, inspiring communication practitioners and discuss ways to improve our craft. But as David Wescott notes in his excellent scio13 follow-up post, the crucial mission of science outreach often gets the short shrift. Many of us are passionate about turning on more non-scientists and young folks from underrepresented demographics to the beauty and importance of science, and creating a scientific Snowfall for NYTimes readers may not be the most effective way to broaden our reach and impact. What are some of the most effective outreach tactics for particular situations - what have people done, and how do they know what works and what doesn't? What are outreach specialists doing and thinking and how can they work with science communicators to integrate more outreach into communication and vice versa? Action item for the session: partner an outreach specialist with a science writer/journalist/artist, collaborate on an outreach project (however small), and report back to the wiki or to the conference next year on how it went. This can also be a variation of the speed dating session suggested above, with the goal of pairing outreachers with compatible communicators.

  • Scientists, too! I know I'm very interested in doing outreach-- it's what got me blogging and Tweeting in the first place. But the challenge is reaching an audience, right? - @JacquelynGill
  • Some of this may be an artifact of Scio starting life with a very online focus. At #Scio13 there was the "Outreach in Unusual Places" discussion, but that was those of us who've stumbled into more unusual outreach methods talking about what we've done without good metrics for how that was going. Having people who specialize in outreach help guide a session like this would be excellent. -@Sargent
  • This is a great idea. I do a lot of in person outreach but I'm not sure how to translate that to an online method, especially reaching the audiences. @genegeek (Happy to help too)
  • Loud applause from the PIO bench; I'd be happy to help with this if you'll have me. I would add that this topic applies very nicely to today's ScienceOnline discussions; outreach is becoming ever more effective using online tools and resources, while the more traditional version of outreach is becoming passe (I believe someone mentioned that in a session farther up the page). Folks who focus on primarily outreach are finding themselves becoming more focused in online resources than I believe anyone ever saw coming. - @mejenwalton

F*&%tonify your Output, or How I Learned to Stop Sleeping and Love the Work (suggested by @edyong209)

The secret to getting lots done is to work like an absolute bastard. But there are lots of other practical things you can do to get lots done, or to train yourself to get lots done. There's no shortage of massively productive people in this community, and it might be interesting for people to share their workflow ideas. Maybe the scientists/journalists/educators/whatevers can learn cool tips from each other. Or maybe we can all just sit in our respective corners and write blog posts in silence. YOU DECIDE.
PS It doesn't need to be me who runs this, but I will certainly sit at the back and shout stuff.
PPS Er, you can change the title, if you want.
PPPS Since it's ScienceONLINE, bonus points for tips that actually use the Internet in your favour, rather than simply saying "Shut off the internet".
  • Definitely not the one to speak on this, but I would attend. Would be good if it could incorporate tips on how to fit in e.g. freelancing around a full-time job (or blogging around being a scientist, etc) -- @kahoakes
  • CQC (@cqchoi): Me and Maggie both talked at our Scio13 panel about tricks we used to optimize our workflows; maybe we could chime in.
  • I would love to soak up tips and tricks from the hive mind, sounds great! @MJBwrites
  • I may be able to help with this. I work from home with a full-time day job, plus freelancing, plus teaching as an adjunct at a university, plus mom to a toddler who's only gone 6 hours a day. I have to find ways to squeeze in bits and pieces of work and productivity, and I could share what's worked for me (though I'm always learning and often still struggle with it!). I would imagine it could incorporate some tips from (or be useful to) working moms since productive workflow is essential to being a successful one. (And I love the title). --@tarahaelle
  • It would be smart to tap Tara for this. Writer moms of young kids are productivity rockstars. (Maryn)
  • I'm there, and happy to contribute if I can - I have a lot of systems in place that help me balance different jobs that require different types of attention (office days, coffe shop/home days, news stories, longer features, blogs, multimedia projects, random side projects, classes, teaching etc). (@roseveleth)

Design thinking for science communication (David Harris)

“Design thinking refers to the methods and processes for investigating ill-defined problems, acquiring information, analyzing knowledge, and positing solutions.” – Wikipedia.

Sounds like a good fit for science communication, right? There is a lot for science communicators to learn from designers and their way of thinking. Design isn’t just about making things look pretty, so let that misapprehension fade away. It’s a way of thinking about problems with a focus on action and solution. It involves empathy, creativity, and rationality in equal doses. A typical design thinking process might go: define, research, ideate, prototype, choose, implement, and learn. Notice the elements of research, prototyping, and learning hiding in there—areas that a lot of science communication fails at in the development process.

Some key questions to explore:
- How can design thinking be applied to science communication and what does it mean for the way we develop scicomm projects?
- What does a design thinking approach mean for the outcomes of scicomm projects? How might they be different?
- How can design thinking allow us to broaden our audiences and cater to groups like policy makers, minorities, or the non-science interested?
- How does the rapid turnaround prototyping approach work in an institutional or commercial environment?
- What is the relationship between a design thinking approach and taking risks in project development?

Note: There could be two parts to this. One could be a workshop on design thinking for scicomm at the beginning and there could be a session to discuss the approach and share what we know and have learned about design thinking for scicomm for those who don’t want to commit to experiencing the process in detail.

[+1 to this session idea. Happy to contribute/participate/etc if there is a need. -@johnpavlus]
Very much want to see this, and would love to be involved - @LizNeeley

Science beyond the U.S. (Anton Zuiker)

In conversations with Erik Vance, Enrico Balli and Cristina Rigutto, Frank Nuijens and others, a number of ideas for sessions (a track maybe) came up to explore science in or from other countries and languages other than English. Just getting this started, and hoping others will jump in to outline the possibilities.
  1. Freelancing from afar -- Erik Vance on his experiences as an American stringer in Mexico.
  2. Suggest you tap people from the World Federation of Science Journalists, WFSJ (probably abt a dozen SciO13-ers are speaking at the biannual conference, WCSJ13, and could probably find contacts for you). Maryn

Graphic design in science (David Harris)

Graphic design isn’t just about prettiness. It plays a fundamental role in the communication process. In this session we would discuss how graphic design has a role to play in science and science communication. We’ll share tips on graphic design techniques so that if you are new to it, you have a basic grounding to build on.

Some key discussion points and questions:
- Does graphic design really make a difference?
- What are the subcultural connotations of graphic design choices?
- How can graphic design help you get to new audiences?
- How can you design nice things when you don’t have professional tools?

[from @johnpavlus, via your Twitter request: I'm interested in participating somehow. Not a designer by trade but I wrote about it daily for 2 years for Fast Company's Co.Design, where I still contribute.]
I'd love to attend @genegeek

Getting funding/grants for science outreach (?)

Merging travel and science writing (Matthew Francis and Brian Switek; it would also be nice to hear David Quammen speak on this)

Travel science writing has a long tradition (think Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin), but at least in my experience it doesn't seem to be appreciated as a subgenre in its own right. I think it would be interesting to discuss how we can use the best examples of travel writing to inspire us, and draw on the under-recognized lineage of travel science writing to lead to new narratives and (maybe) reach people who love National Geographic, but maybe wouldn't pick up a book on tropical diseases or cosmology.
  • (@cqchoi): Would be willing to chime in on this — have been to Chernobyl, Guatemala, Yukon, Belize, etc., for stories for NYT, SciAm, etc.

Moving out of Your Comfort Zone: Communicating Science in Different Contexts to Different Audiences (Cedar Riener @criener & Emily Finke @seelix)

This is obviously a common theme in many ScienceOnline sessions, but this session would be organized in a slightly different way. The first half would be small group work, where people would split into two groups, and try to design a piece of science communication that is not what they typically do. For example, scientists and teachers would have to design a museum exhibit (led by a seasoned museum person), and museum people and science journalists would have to design a lesson (led by a seasoned science educator). Then, after that workshop experience, they would join for a discussion on what they learned by moving out of their comfort zone.

Three minutes of wow (Cedar Riener @criener)

Scientists, science writers, or anyone interested, what would you show someone if you only had 3 minutes to get them to say "Wow!" about your field? I (@criener) teach a course on the science of illusions, and one of the most fun things about this course is blowing people's minds with fun demonstrations and illusions. I thought it might be a fun idea for many people to bring something to a big session, whether it is a prop, an instrument, a poster, or a fun video on an iPad, I am imagining a fun, fair-like atmosphere, where people could wander around and enjoy different short demonstrations of science. Or maybe I should just bring a few of my favorite illusions and walk around myself....
  • I just want to add a +1 to this. Informal Ed it partially collecting/creating "wow!" moments that don't distract from accuracy. Would love to see what other people use and what works in different mediums than I'm used to! - @seelix
  • Loving the idea. - Ed

Avoiding Nerdobacter: The Epidemiology of Conferences (possible moderators: @drjudystone @Julie_Urban @SciencingSara @jeannegarb @DrChrisKellogg @chebutykin @eliowa)

Science conferences - any conferences, really - are prime venues for transmitting infectious disease. Possible topics of discussion include:
  • Which diseases are most likely to be present in a conference venue?
  • What are the primary transmission reservoirs?
  • What can attendees do to minimize transmission?
  • What can conference organizers do to reduce risk?
  • FWIW, I am the custodian of the Nerdobacter11 survey, and @EpiRen and I did a better survey for WCSJ11. Let me know if you need. Maryn
  • This could be a cool session. Imagine could discuss topics such as what type of hand-rub product you should use, how to avoid getting sick in airports and should you have your hotel room cleaned every day? Also could be a cool epidemiology project to prospectively collect data on attendees (like 2011); citric-acid kleenex anyone? @eliowa
  • Might be interesting to survey attendees prior to the con, then do a followup afterward. Gather geographic location, symptoms (before and after), sessions attended, etc.

We're all Science Writers, so why does the journalism vs. communication distinction keep coming up? (@erinpodolak and @kprengaman)

Once you go communication you can never go back. Or so we've been told. We're all science writers, how we choose to go about it presents different challenges but one path isn't better than another and making career choices about being a journalist or writing in a different capacity shouldn't be based on a sense of what is more prestigious. The science writing ecosystem needs all different kinds of writers doing different things, and nobody should feel like a "disappointment" because they took their skills and abilities to communication instead of reporting. Great writing can come people who aren't journalists, in fact, we think some of the best does.

Let's talk about what matters to us as writers, is it the joy of good communication, good writing, explaining science, or is it reporting, hunting for stories and tips, taking a skeptical eye to sources and playing that "watchdog" role? If you don't love reporting, you can be a great science writer. Just because you take a job that is more communicating science that science journalism doesn't mean you can never become a journalist - does it?

It's important that science online and NASW bring sci comm and sci journalists together, but in big conversations like "how do we deal with uncertainty?" or "how do you handle the deniers?" the challenges and available solutions really depend on the framework that you are working in. For example, research shows that people don't expect or like it when news reporters to tell you that one side of a perceived "debate" is correct. But if you are a blogger or a communicator, you can certainly do that. There are people in the #scio community who've worked in both worlds who we know have a lot to say about the different constraints and opportunities of each.
  • YES, this. Having been in both worlds as a scientist, science writer and journalist, I can relate to the difficulty in determining the difference between the two. Is there even one? David Manly
    • Yes. :) (Maryn)
  • -Great concept. @MJBwrites

Science is a verb: Communicating the process of science (suggested by @JacquelynGill)

I'll flush this out in greater detail, but I would love to see as session strategizing how all of us can better communicate the process of science. Some folks roll their eyes and think the "how" is boring, but it needn't be! For example, I found #overlyhonestmethods to be a humanizing (and humorous) experience, but others took away from it the message that we should never trust scientists, ever. How can we use process to provide context, move beyond the "paper-of-the-week," and develop long-form techniques in journalism? How can process be an effective outreach tool for scientists (e.g., videos from the field, bringing teachers into the lab, project tweets, #wherethesciencehappens, citizen science, open notebooks)? What about learning by doing, for educators?

  • #IamScience and This is what a scientist looks like are other examples that come to mind. I am currently filming a series of interviews with scientists that will have strong focus on their daily work, and will be experimenting with a 3month-online-reportage-format later this year. Will involve questions from the audience and other tools. I would love to discuss ways to develop upstream reporting and bring it into mainstream journalism and sci comm. @quinoat
  • I'd love to help out here. In my outreach and teaching, I try to bring in the process (e.g. use non-standard labs, use murder mysteries, etc.). @genegeek
  • Yes times a billion and I'd love to help. Have ideas... haven't figured out how to implement? Also I have the shirt that says "Science is a verb" - @NoisyAstronomer
  • Yes, please! This would be infinitely useful. - @mejenwalton
  • Some further thoughts on this: I think communicating not just scientific findings, but also the process of science is also a great way to show the role of uncertainty, tentativeness and debate in sicence. Outside, people often get frustrated with new and (seemingly) contradictory results and often come to the conclusion "Oh, these scientists don't agree on anything... can't take them seriously...".
    But to adequately communicate the long and winding process is very hard to do. I do think that online media offer great new tools for this, but it is still hard. And it seems to be even harder for 'classic' journalistic media. One thing I currently (re-)learn is, that these things are very hard to align with conventional narrative structures. You have long periods where nothing or very little or always the same happens. Most of our dramaturgic tools are applied in retrospect, when we already know the outcome. This is how we usually build stories and we aren't very well equipped to tell stories as they unfold.
    So how do you tell engaging stories about the process of science? What would be good tools, technical (Storify? Spundge? timelines etc.) and methodological (narrative)? I think, overall, the scientists themselves are doing a much better job in conveying at least some of the day to day process of science. It's more the journalists that are struggling (maybe because they are still tied to the idea of "the news").But it can be done. 'Embedded reporting', despite its problems, is a good way too. One needs a good outlet for this. And one has to tread carefully between journalism and PR. And it is resource intensive (time!), not sure if it can be sustainable. I think curating and staying on a topic over a long time are good ways to follow the scientific process. I like the idea of story stubs, for example, to which you add over time.
    Maybe we could turn this into something more like a workshop (or a very focused brainstorming session) where we try to come up with a "paper pilot" for one (imaginary) format to communicate one (possibly real) scientific process? This research group or field, this communication goal (the process), this format (or elements for it - an online magazine, a video diary, whatever...). (would be happy to help moderate) @quinoat

Using Pop Culture to Discuss Science Fact (& the Humanities, Too!) (suggested by @Rocza)

From MegaBadMovieNights that highlight bad science via bad movies to using Stargate to teach ethics (or physics or !) to the glut of books on your favourite TV show and the best academic topic possibly tied to it, pop culture – and particularly science fiction – has moved into both the academe and journalism to explain tough concepts to novice audiences. It's a popular technique, but is it effective? Does it cheapen academia to use pop culture to illustrate points? Does it harm academia by giving the idea that these topics are simpler than they are? Are people more likely to remember the bad science being portrayed than the corrections offered? Should more outreach be done utilizing popular culture, or does this actually weaken the science (and humanities) fields by creating a false idea of ease? Do journalists and scientists create more problems for themselves in communicating science ideas, in the long run, by utilizing pop culture in the short?

Suggested moderators: people who've had experience with this? I've taught university courses utilizing pop culture (notably Stargate and applied ethics). I think bug_girl ("The Horrible Truth about Spider-Man's Anatomy"), Annaleen (because io9and generally awesome), or newbie neva9257, who has a chapter in The Big Bang Theory and Philosophy: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Aristotle, Locke would all also be amazing choices (and am of course just throwing their names out because I can. Hi! Sorry?)
  • When I do science talks at science fiction conventions, the con-goers respond much more strongly to "The Physics Of X"-style talks, at least for initial attendance. In part that's self-selecting -- the people who are at cons are interested in SF pop culture -- but is one anecdatapoint. -@Sargent
  • Salman Hameed has taught about this at Hampshire College & blogs about film & television (among other things) at Irtiqa, says former almost-colleague Stephanie Brown, who was Hampshire's CogSciLibrarian.

Workshop - Drawing Science Comics 2: It's a Good Day to Draw Hard (suggested by @sciencecomic)

The 2013 science comic drawing workshop was a success, but it could be better! Having more actual drawing time combined with a post-drawing discussion would help greatly.
  • I would LOVE to do another workshop about science comics for those that couldn't attend the one we did at scio13. The 1.5 hours went by really fast, so a 3 hour workshop with more hands-on and sharing time would be wonderful! -Katie (@beatricebiology)
  • This sounds so amazingly cool. I've started incorporating my own comics into my blog on stem cells lately and they have more impact than the words I write. -Paul (@pknoepfler)

SciO Comic Con: What's the big deal? (suggested by @sciencecomic)


How to do outreach in K-12 science classrooms RIGHT NOW (suggested by @beatricebiology)

We spend a lot of time talking about how science should be explained and how we want the next generation to be excited about science. What can we do to help the K-12 teachers that are trying to get kids excited about science right now? I want to talk about logistically feasible ways that we as scientists and science communicators can help. Here are some ideas:
  1. Penpals or Q and As with students: Partner with a teacher who has students that would like to ask you anything about your area. Maybe you can record your answers and upload a youtube video so teachers can show it to multiple classes.
  2. Visiting a science classroom to talk about what you do.
  3. If you are laboratory scientist, are there any experiments you could record and upload so teachers can show students what working in a lab looks like?
  4. For a science classroom that has no supplies, could you have a video of you running an experiment for the class to use as the data collection part of the lab, so they can do a full lab write up without performing the experiment?
I really like this proposal and would be happy to help with it. I am an entomologists and especially in the K-6 grades insects are popular topics, and they are easy to do experiments on and to transport from lab to classroom. I will add some more bullet points soon. Marianne Alleyne (@Cotesia1)
I can help with this too. I've developed several outreach programs that go into schools, including partnerships with universities. @genegeek
Have experience with this too, setting up astronomy clubs in local elementary schools. Fun fun! - @Noisyastronomer
Would be happy to contribute as well - i am currently running programming for both k-12 students and teachers, mostly hands-on lab work.-- JeanneGarb

The editor’s invisible hand (David Harris)

Editors usually go by unnoticed and unthanked, yet they are content in what they do. Some people are born writers, others born editors and there isn’t a straight line career path from writer to editor. Discuss the ins and outs of editing and build a pathway of communication between editors and writers, who bridge a divide more often than not.

Some discussion points:
- How do you know if you’re an editor or a writer?
- How do you break into editing?
- What does an editor actually do all day?
- How can editors be more helpful to writers?
- What do editors look for in writers?
- What are the different types of editor and how do their roles vary?

- +1 for this - would be great! I love to write, but I really enjoy editing and wonder if I might do both, which I'm best at, etc. Maybe some of the folks in the recent Open Notebook editing post would be willing to speak too. @MJBwrites
- Yes! Particularly interested in the last three discussion points. @ihearttheroad

Broadening the Participation of Diverse Populations in Online Science
by Alberto I. Roca @MinorityPostdoc and Danielle N. Lee @DNLee5
Online minority science writers, i.e. historically from African-, Hispanic-, and Native-American communities, are small in number reflecting their underrepresentation in the STEM pipeline. Broadening the participation of these groups involves mentoring and training activities which can make the STEM disciplines more welcoming to all. Diversity discussions today also recognize the needs of the disabled, LGBT, veteran, female, and other populations outnumbered in majority institutions. This session will bring together minorities, allies, and stakeholders who are interested in using online tools to diversify both the sciences and science communication.

From 2008 - 2011, this session has celebrated underrepresented minorities who are scientists and/or science writers from African-American, Hispanic, and women communities (i.e. gender and ethnic diversity). More recently, we have specifically invited guests from the Native American (2012) and LGBT (2013) communities. For 2014, we suggest focusing on the disability community. We will work with 2013 moderators of the "Accessibility for all audiences" session as well as key stakeholders on the NCSU campus.

Note the Diversity Bloggers aggregator for finding people to attend the session. Anticipate that this session will complement (not compete) with the "Privilege & the Pursuit of Science" and "Privilege 101/How to be an ally" sessions above. Finally, recommend that we review progress on action items from #scio12.

How to Recognize a Bad Study? - Chance, Bias and Confounding - Don't just focus on chance (statistics). (Suggested by Eli Perencevich @eliowa , and Rebecca Kreston @thebodyhorrors)
Not all scientific questions can be answered using the "golden standard", the randomized trial.
  • For example, is using a mobile phone when driving risky? To study this, could you really take mobile phones away from people in a control group to see if they get into fewer car accidents? Not if you want to live! For risk-factor studies, you need to complete a case-control or a cohort study.
  • What if you wanted to know if the MRSA superbug leads to early death in hospitalized patients? Probably wouldn't be ethical to randomize patients to an MRSA infection, so you'd have to complete a cohort study.
  • What if you wanted to see if school uniforms improved test performance in elementary schools? You can't really randomize individual children, so you'd have to do a cluster-randomized trial or more likely a quasi-experimental study looking at test scores before and after uniforms were introduced.
If these study designs don't ring a bell, then what kind of conclusions can you draw from the results of the study and can you trust the p-values given in the Results section? The quality of a study depends primarily on internal validity which, in turn, is conditional on how well the study is designed. A strong knowledge base in epidemiological study design, including the roles that bias and confounding play, can help us help ask more rigorous questions of clinical, sociological and psychological researcher in particular. Knowing the underlying architecture of a study is necessary in critically evaluating and interpreting research.

This session is about providing a primer on study designs commonly used in clinical and epidemiological research. We're hoping to answer these questions - what are the need-to-know study designs, how do they influence study results and how can those results can be extrapolated to other research and concepts. Using a socratic method approach with some chalk-and-talk thrown in for good measure, we intend to discuss three major study designs - case-control, cohort, and quasi-experimental study - and go through how each can be used to answer an important research question, while also identifying problems and solutions to the limitations of each design.

As an example, take the case of the red M&M's. In 1976 red M&M's were banned because of concern for the dye FD&C Red #2 (yes I know they didn't actually contain the dye). If you were alive then, it was pretty traumatic. How could we design a study to see if red M&M's caused cancer? How could we determine what other health impacts were associated with exposure to Red #2? Finally, once the red candies were banned, how could we measure the public health impact of the ban? Talking through these simple questions, this session could cover important epidemiological issues, like avoiding and detecting bias, without ever mentioning statistics. We could also all eat 100's of red M&Ms together - it's pretty therapeutic. Oh, and if you want to scare a scientist, just ask them about the counterfactual (See Star Trek, episode #28, City on the Edge of Forever) Might be more fun if we used green M&Ms in the example instead.

Has Neuroscience Jumped the Shark? (suggested by Princess Ojiaku @artfulaction and Maia Pujara)
Science often moves in trends, with certain techniques, questions, and topics being "hot." We'll focus on neuroimaging studies for this discussion, but many of the questions we'll raise are also applicable to scientific research in general. This discussion idea came out of the article "Neuroscience: Under Attack" and the conversations it sparked around my university's department. There are two spheres of debate here: 1. the debate over the "validity" of neuroscience imaging studies (and even the technique itself) within the scientific community 2. the "flashiness" of public coverage of these studies.

A few questions to prompt discussion:
  • How much of the problem is a problem with the science itself, and how much of it is on how the science is reported or perceived? What direction is the field moving in, and how is the public following it?
  • Is it fair to say that some studies have "no point" (re: the fMRI of freestyle rapping)? Who gets to decide trivial data and studies from studies that 'actually matter'? Where does one draw the line?
  • In the rise of the combination of neuroscience and other disciplines (re: neuroecon, neurolaw, neuroethics) how forward-looking can we be? Are people using neuroscience to explain or predict too much?
  • Would it be better to say that, in a sense, neuroscience has come under attack from the people who perpetuate sensationalist distortions of scientific data? Meanwhile, bloggers like NeuroSkeptic are trying to preserve neuroscientific purity in the popular media
  • What are some of the ways that journalists are currently being held accountable for the data that they're reporting on? What else can be done to ensure that people don't walk away with inaccurate/distorted representations of scientific data?

The Tenure Games: Why would anyone pursue a traditional academic career at this point, and what are the alternatives? (suggested by Chris Gunter and Ethan Perlstein)

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that adjunct professors teach 70% of university classes. Many Ph.D.'s are awarded before the scientist turns 30. Yet, the average age for the first R01, or individual investigator-led grant from the NIH, now stands at 43. Fewer and fewer tenure-track positions are available each year, and for those who snag one, the funding needed to sustain a lab and get tenure is increasingly elusive. The academic community continually debates the proper number of Ph.D.’s to produce, and how to mentor them given all of these facts.

The last few years have produced multiple new ideas to reform the system:
  • more funding targeted at young investigators, from NIH and other sources
  • crowdfunding of research projects
  • science startups and independent scientists
  • academic-style jobs, but without a tenure process
  • more part-time and research-based positions.
We will review the state of the field and discuss small to radical steps for keeping talented people in scientific careers.

Citizen Science: How do I get involved? For scientists... also, building Better communities with citizen science (suggested by Nicole Gugliucci aka NoisyAstronomer) and looking for others!

Does your science need more people? How can you get people to invest time collecting or analyzing data with you? Where is this whole citizen science movement going? I'd also especially like to continue the "building community" discussions we had at #scio13. How do we interact with citizen scientists online and in real life? (@CoopSciScoop? @DNLee5? @DrHolly? others?)

Also sort of related but could be it's own topic, Guerilla Science/Outreach - how do we bring science TO the people? This idea spurred on by @seelix and @bug_girl's excellent session at #scio13 on outreach in unusual places. We've been ambushing people with science street fairs and sci-fi conventions. How do we do that? What other venues can we hit?

Video LIVE - NoisyAstronomer et al? (Scott Lewis, we need to get him there for realsies, or any of the ScienceSunday folks on Google+)

Google Hangouts makes broadcasting your own shows easy-peasy. But actually, there is a lot of work that goes into it. CosmoQuest is running nearly a show per day as of March 2013, who knows how many more to come? How do you produce a show, share it, be in the moment, and other fun things that apply to live video as opposed to something produced for distribution later. Everything from finding top interviewees to making sure your sound isn't wonky. Plus, we were able to broadcast live from Scio13 thanks to the generous bandwidth provided by the organizers (THANK YOU) so some real-time Hanging out will definitely be involved.

Network science and the structure of ScienceOnline - @LizNeeley
The ScienceOnline experience has been life-changing for many of us. Articulating why, exactly, that is can be challenging, but we seem to agree that it’s a blend of killer content and an incomparable sense of community. Over dinner at the end of AAAS, we realized that community is not just an intangible thing, but it’s an empirical question. We believe that uncovering and understanding the network topology of ScienceOnline now—and how it changes in the lead-up do, during, and after our 2014 annual meeting—is important and valuable. We are curious about whether this would just verify our gut feelings or would offer surprising insight. Our concept is to use social network analysis to describe our community, test assumptions about the role on the annual meeting, and make strategic decisions about possible networking events (targeted matchmaking?).

See & comment on the GoogleDoc project description - and please, volunteer help with coding and analysis! The work is starting now.
Current collaborators on this include: David Harris, Mark Zastrow, Christie Wilcox, Jamie Vernon, Karyn Traphagen, John Timmer & more.

Session structure: combination of lecture/information transfer (15 mins of set-up & presentation) followed by discussion and group exploration of data
Take-aways: session participants walk away with intro to network analysis science (terms, methods, tools), access and ability to play with shared data (open science forever), and food for thought about how they grow their own networks. Session organizers walk away with feedback on manuscript for publication

Twitter + Python Clinic - @_inundata
We're a pretty savvy group of people when it comes to tweetstream fundamentals. Lists? Filters? Those bases are belong to us. But how do you take it to the next level? From hiding annoyances to tracking topics, there are powerful tools we can bring to bear. Here's hoping Karthik doesn't have to teach us to regex in the parking lot.
Structure: short, hands-on workshop?
Take-aways: some basic python code & skills, design & test personal filters

Communications gone mobile: Google Glass (and Go Pro??) - @starstryder & @noisyastronomer
The future is here - maybe. Google Glass Explorers will give an over view of the abilities and limitations of these new wearable communications devices. From using them to give a first person take on doing science demos, to using them to take the public into behind the scenes science places, we'll cover it all. Also to be discussed: how to handle privacy concerns, intellectual property / ITAR concerns, and those pesky rumors that we're all one pair of Google Glasses away from Skynet.

Do Science Writing Programs Have a Future? (suggested by @emilyanthes)*
Johns Hopkins just announced that it would be discontinuing its graduate program in science writing. Columbia shuttered its program years ago. And journalism schools across the country are trying to figure out how to adapt to the new media landscape. What is the future of science journalism programs? This session would explore this large question, as well as an array of smaller ones, including:

  • What do students get out of these programs?
  • Are there things that these programs could do to serve students better?
  • What do students today need to know in order to be prepared for a career in science journalism?
  • Are there other ways that colleges and universities can prepare students for degrees in science communication--short of actual degree programs?
  • Do science writing programs need to do a better job marketing themselves?
  • How can we make degree programs in science journalism more affordable and accessible to all who are interested?

*Note: I'm an alum of one of these graduate science writing programs, but have no experience on the teaching/administrative side. But the idea would be to get a diverse array of perspectives--from students, alumni, professors, administrators, etc. - @emilyanthes (Cc: @sethmnookin @tomlevenson @danfagin)