My cousin decided to study Biology just like I did (same university, hence same program). While she wants to go on a different research subject, so far she also wants to follow an academic pathway, and so she has asked me a lot of questions to subjects I wished I knew more about when I was starting. These will be a series of posts based on that premise. Please keep in mind all these posts will be based on personal experiences
How important is it to follow science news?
The short answer is, off course, very important. But allow me to elaborate.
Just as it is important for you to follow the “general” news, as part of general knowledge, it is important for you to follow science news if want to work in science. As you will notice, there is a LOT of news and new sites and it can get overwhelming to know what to read/listen to.
Independent of the field you might want to work in, it is important that you know about the big developments in science in general. A relative good method to follow this is actually the science section of your local paper, just because usually the BIG developments will make it out specialized media. That said, take this reports with a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, many of this newspapers do not have a science writer on staff and might give the coverage to someone that could not be properly informed on the subject. I discussed this on a previous post.
If you want a broad image but with a more focused angle, I would suggest podcasts or science blogs. These sources can give you the highlights and are produced by people with scientific backgrounds. I personally listen to Nature’s and Science’s podcast every week; they are short and will give you a good idea of what happened that week in several fields. Another podcast I enjoy is The Naked Scientist; now they also have specialized podcasts in Astronomy, Genetics and others. They will give an even more relaxed view of the developments in each field, but they will have all the supporting information. All these podcasts also have their own blogs, where you can get more information as well as the link to the studies they are referring to.
Something that can be very interesting as it will allow you to see different point of views is following science blogs, and you can do so through different methods. I personally love Science Borealis because it gathers a lot of different blogs which helps me to keep up to date and to hear different arguments on Canadian Science developments. And off course, there is social media. Twitter can be a source of news off course, just be sure you read the whole post before you retweet, and even then, don’t forget to fact check when possible.
As you’ll continue moving on your career, chances are that your interests will also become more specialized. While this doesn’t mean you won’t be interested anymore in the type of news discussed above, it does means that you’ll have a bit less time to follow EVERYTHING. Once again, specialized blogs or podcasts can help, but you’ll notice that it might not be enough when you start focusing on that specific side of your research only you and that other group in another continent are working on (I might be exaggerating just a bit here, but you get the gist). So, you’ll have to start looking for news, or rather papers about it quite often. Every once in a while, I do a PubMed search for certain keywords. While this doesn’t assure I won’t miss a particular article it helps to know what else is going on my field. Through NCBI you can also set up alerts (like Google Alerts) for your specific keywords. Once again, you have to learn how to filter the information you’ll get and to set aside the documents that might be pertinent immediately and those that, while interesting, can wait a bit before you tackle them.
Nude as the News--Cat Power