I think blogs are awesome. I love reading them and I have a huge amount of respect for those who write them. Many of the blogs I enjoy are a wonderful fusion of individuality and advocacy-a way to bring important topics to light in a genuine way. I aspire to be like the people who blog. I, however, have been terrified to publish a blog.
Where does this hesitancy come from? I can think of three main reasons.
Most importantly, I’m afraid of not being original. I’m still a relatively young researcher and person. Any thoughts I have had have probably already been said in a more engaging and eloquent way by somebody else.
Second, I’m scared of being wrong. Now let’s be real, I am wrong a lot of the time; it’s part of being human and definitely an inherent part of the science endeavor. But something about my mistakes having a permanent place on the internet frightens me. I’ve had intense training on how to seek truth while being extra conscious of where bias might creep into results. Putting out information that might not be completely true because I haven’t had time to research the topic thoroughly enough makes me uncomfortable. I do not want to betray the trust that I feel inherently comes with being a scientist. This is analogous to scientific publishing as well. For example, being hesitant to publish a scientific manuscript because maybe there could be more data you could collect or more tests to run. But there will always be more tests and more data to collect. After all, a manuscript that will do the most damage is not one that could have used more data, but an unpublished one.
Third, I want to be honest and open about my thoughts and experiences. I’m still a trainee in my field. I’m afraid of saying something that may not line up well with a future employer. I am not yet in the job security phase where I feel comfortable expressing myself in a permanent place on the internet.
Yet here I am, writing these paragraphs with the intent of publishing them. What is compelling me to overlook my hesitancy and actually publish this time? (fun fact: I have had this account for a year and have drafted and never published at least two other blogs before this one).
- Getting over that crippling perfectionism that keeps me from putting information out there before I feel it’s ready. Someone once told me that it’s most useful to get feedback on something when it’s only 30% complete. I think there is validity to this advice.
- Gaining confidence in voicing my ideas and expertise. I have been in my field long enough that I should give myself more credit. I shouldn’t be afraid to offer my experiences and the things I have learned at the risk of being incorrect or having an opposing viewpoint to someone else.
- Being an effective communicator. One of my favorite parts of science is sharing it with others. I love telling people who aren’t in my field about my research. I enjoy interacting with young academics, whether I’m trying to convince elementary school children that fruit flies are awesome tools for science or sharing the wonderful experiences I’ve had in research to high school students or undergraduates. I also really like writing grants. Convincing someone that your idea should be pursued is something that I find really exciting. A blog will allow me to continue practicing science communication. It is also another way to effectively interact with the community.
Hopefully, I will actually publish this and look back on it for encouragement to publish more posts.