Silicon-biology science in a petri dish

What does the science blogger do? | Day 87

Paige Brown Jarreau has an interesting background – she drinks really strong coffee, dances ballet, and has an MSc in Biological and Agricultural Engineering. She is also currently getting a PhD in mass communication at Louisiana State University, researching the intersection of science journalism, science communication, and new media.

As a savvy ‘new media’ user herself, Paige recently took to in order to gather funds for one of the core projects in her research:

My goal is to conduct a large-scale online survey of science bloggers. I have already interviewed more than 50 science bloggers world-wide, so now it’s time for a more number-crunching survey. But to collect this survey data, I need funds to offer science bloggers an incentive to take and complete my online survey. A goal of $1,000 for this project would allow me to give a $5 incentive to at least 200 bloggers.

In other words, Paige wants to use science to figure out how science bloggers choose what to write about. Offering a payment for a survey is not something that she decided on a whim, either. According to research, financial incentives yield a better response and completion rate when it comes to surveys, especially long ones. Paige explains this here, where she also describes how, through hard work and persistence, she made the crowdfunding initiative a success.

While this exciting research is underway, if you follow Paige on Twitter or read her blog From The Lab Bench over at SciLogs, you can already learn a lot of interesting facts about science blogging and science writing more broadly. For example, what motivates people to blog?

You can also read her interviews with people who write about science. This one will be of particular interest to the readers of this blog. (Yes, it’s me answering some questions. Do read if you want some dirty behind-the-scenes info.) And while you’re at it, check out the really awesome part II where Paige talks to the Australian who kicked off the daily science blogging trend, and whose idea I blatantly copied.

If you want to become one of the backers of this research initiative, there are still three days until the stretch goal. I hear you get free art as a bonus.

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