Research Blogging

This week (at the suggestion of a reader) I submitted a request to have Penny University registered with Research BloggingI am very happy to say that we were approved and are now officially a ‘research blog’ (or at least have the potential to be a ‘research blog’).

Research Blogging is a site where blog posts that reference peer-reviewed research are compiled for easy identification under appropriate categories and by relevant tags.  I have registered Penny University under ‘Research / Scholarship : Science Communication’, but I will be able to tag individual posts with more subject-specific tags (such as biology, archaeology, geology, etc).  It seemed like the best fit for what we do here!

Now, by the very nature of Penny University, not many of our posts will meet the guidelines.  This is because the majority of our posts are about active research projects (and many just in their early stages), which are frequently unpublished.  But every now and then (and we have one coming up) an interviewee may refer to an article during our discussion and in this instance, I will be able to submit that post to Research Blogging.  These posts will be identifiable on Penny University by the inclusion of the “Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research” icon and a full citation for the articles referenced.  The post will then be listed on the Research Blogging front page and a reference to the post will remain in their database (under the category and by the tags) so that people looking for posts on specific topics can find it in the future!

This is a very useful system, not only for identifying serious blog posts about peer-reviewed research, but it also ensures that the research we feature here on Penny University gets as wide an audience as possible.  While Penny University was founded with the purpose of bringing information about less well-known research projects to the general public, there is no reason why it shouldn’t also bring this information to the academic audience (who to be fair, probably don’t know about it either*).  It may even be a good way to help encourage networking between researchers around the world.  And that can only be a good thing!


*Unless they are your supervisor/advisor**, share your office/lab***, or witnessed a conference presentation/poster****.

**And even then they may not actually know what your research is about, if we’re being totally honest.



Breaking Ground

Hello and welcome to the first ever blog post on Penny University.  We are just breaking ground on this new project and would like to invite you to have a look around the website.  We’re still under construction, but the basic structure has already been built (well, we have a name and a logo, which I think is a pretty good starting point).  As we approach the grand opening this Autumn, we’ll be adding new information to the website, so try not to be surprised if you see a few changes every now and then.

I want to start this project off, by extending my warmest thanks to everyone over at I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here; staff, teachers, and of course the students!  I am very happy and incredibly proud to have been voted winner of the 7-11 zone in the Wellcome Trust’s In the Zone event.  Over a period of ten weeks, forty scientists participated in over 115 live-chats with more than 1600 students from a number of schools across the UK – and answered over 1700 questions on topics ranging from the tiniest cells in the human body to the largest features of the universe!  It was an incredible opportunity and definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in science engagement.  I encourage you to take some time to visit their website and discover all of the amazing, insightful, and unusual curiosity-driven questions from the students I had the pleasure to interact with over the last few months.

Now, as a winner of I’m a Scientist I am lucky to be given £500 to spend on science engagement.  Past winners have done everything from produce short films about scientists and their lives (both inside and outside the labs) to writing books on specialist science subjects for schools.  I decided that with my prize money I wanted to create an online science podcast, as a way of engaging people with science, whether it is kids or adults – and regardless of whether they have absolutely no experience in science or they are conducting advanced scientific experiments in a state-of-the-art laboratories.  The aim of this project to create a show that will be accessible to anyone and everyone who listens, whether we’re mastering mathematics or studying sociology with our featured researchers.

Over the next few weeks and months we’ll be preparing for the launch of Penny University: buying the necessary equipment and software, organising the schedule of featured researchers, recording interviews for our first few episodes, and promoting our website far-and-wide across the internet.  As a special ‘nod of thanks’ to I’m a Scientist and all the students who voted for me to win, our very first episode will feature questions from the students who took part in the event.  But in order to keep Penny University up and running if you have a burning question you want answered, know of an exciting recent discovery in science, or are a scientist who would like your research featured on the show then we would love to hear from you, as we’ll be trying to use as many audience suggestions as possible in future episodes.

Thank you so much for visiting our website and for supporting us in the early days of this project.  I am already excited for the day we release the first episode of Penny University and I hope that all of you are too.  I will post here with any interesting updates in the lead up to our launch, so until next time, remember: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  The important thing is to not stop questioning.” ― Albert Einstein