Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Writing recommendations... Advice?

It looks like some of us may be getting together to write a recommendation for the AWG Outstanding Teacher Award. Many of us have not written recommendations before and I was wondering if the geoblogosphere had some advice. Namely some examples or PDF's on how to write a GREAT recommendation. This colleague is well deserving of the award and we want to give her the best possible chance of winning. I'll do some digging myself and post what I find. I have an article on the subtleties of language chosen to describe someone that make a big difference on how someone perceives the recommendation.

Also, if anyone has submitted a recommendation for a similar prestigious award, what was your experience with the process?

JournalFire - An Online Journal Club?

While at school I started a geology journal club where we would get together once a week and discuss a short article. This is good practice for communicating an argument and defending that position. The one thing I learned early, is that you should pick a controversial paper to discuss - so you HAVE something to discuss. It's a really boring meeting when everyone sits around saying "yeah, good article" or "I agree with everything." Even with beer involved it's hard to generate discussion from a really good paper.

I bring up Journal Clubs because I came across a link to this product JournalFire. It is an online forum for posting what you are reading, what you think of it, and provides an opportunity for others to comment back and forth. An online journal club. I would still prefer the personal interaction that comes from a journal club meeting, but for those long distance colleagues that want to have that same sort of communication this looks like a great resource. Has anyone used this?

Not fallen off the face of the Earth...

I have not fallen off the face of the Earth, but my motivation to blog has not been pushed for a while now. I have always known that I enjoy reading a whole lot more than writing, so I am not surprised at my lack of posting. I started this blog so that I could participate in an interesting and growing community. (I also wanted to communicate science to the public - see later paragraph) Upon seeing how Callan Bentley reflected on his own blogging, it got me thinking again about mine.

In my quiescence I have been following the geoblogosphere, I just haven't been contributing more than the occasional comment on a post. But, I think that geoblogging is a worthwhile endeavor for me. It is great practice for improving my writing skills, developing a broader peer network, and passing on information I think others may find interesting.

I have realized that my blog really isn't about communicating much science to the public, even though I thoroughly enjoy such interactions. Instead, I think I will leave such communication to the volunteer activities I do (lectures, after-school programs, activities/demonstrations). I enjoy communicating science much more when I directly interact with people than just trying to write a summary. (And I hope my participants enjoy it more as well!)

My blog has been more of an outlet to share things I find interesting to my peers. I have made very few posts on critiques of peer-reviewed papers or summarizing topics for the general audience. It takes me a long time to compose a written post on what I think about an article. I have no problem discussing the merits or lack thereof of articles amongst peers, but to write something about another person's work, to put permanence to such criticism by posting it, and to write it in a politically correct manner does not come easily to me. The posts I have tried to put together on topics I am thoroughly familiar with (ex. ripples, dunes, etc.) also take me a long time to write and in some cases have been done more eloquently by others. If not more eloquently, they can at least get the same information from other web pages (ex. wikipedia) on a much more recognized web resource. It just seems like a waste of time to reinvent the wheel.

I consider myself to be on the lazy end of the blogger scale. Short sweet posts highlighting things I find interesting or that I think others may find useful. And I think I will stick with that format. I hope to resume a more regular blogging schedule (in between more point counting - eyes go cross-eyed), but if you don't hear from me, know that I am reading post and enjoying my small part of the geoblogosphere.