Science Writers Get it Right on Blogging


What’s a scientifically challenged gal like myself doing joining the D.C. Science Writers Association?  Well, when my friends invited me to join I said sure, writing about horticulture for UDC means I qualify, so why not?  [Translation: I grasp the complexities of fertilization sufficiently to write fact sheets on lawn care.]  Also, membership in DCSWA is dirt cheap.

So right out of the box, the next monthly program was about Science Blogging – a subject I totally grasp! – so off I go.  And guess what – one of the speakers has a "hobby bloBeansg" about community-supported agriculture called Vegetables for Breakfast, so she’s practically one of us.  And here she writes about the DCSWA event on her business blog.  She even teaches blogging to corporations, 80 percent of whom are reported by the NY Times to either have or have plans to have a blog.  (Small businesses?  Not so much – only 10 percent.)

Blogs of the other speakers are Framing Science, and the six blogs written by volunteers for the Science Advisory Board.  (The six bloggers are paid $250 a year for weekly posts, which qualifies them as unpaid volunteers in my book.) 

Blogging advice given:

  • Participate in the larger blogging community.
  • Use tags.
  • Choose your target audience and develop a long-term relationship with them.
  • Pick topics you’re passionate about and write in a consistent style.
  • To improve your blog-writing:  Develop your topic over time, respond to readers, and be concise.

Relevant to Kathy’s report to us about the Garden Writers‘ total dissing of blogger rights, these speakers asserted in no uncertain terms that All the Usual Copyright Protections Apply to Bloggers. Thank you!  But link to anything; that’s fair game.  And I was sorry to learn that although we all use Google Images, it’s illegal.  Oops.  The USDA and the Library of Congress were suggested as legal photo sources and I’ll check into them any day now.

My favorite quote:  "A blog is a listserv with a strap-on."  Hey, I’m just quoting here.


  1. Google doesn’t have any images of its own. It’s just listing images it’s found on the Web, just like any other content.

    Anything on the Web from any U.S. agency is free for use. I’ve used images from NASA and NOAA, for example, on my blog.

    Another source of increasing importance are images licensed under Creative Commons. I usually come across these through Wikipedia or Wikimedia.

    I always check the terms of use, and always credit the source, both to give credit where it’s due, and to direct readers to the source for more information. If there’s any question, I email the source and ask for permission to link or copy, as they prefer.

  2. Sounds like you’ve found a great way to be part of this community – and they’re talking your language!!!

    BTW – you can use images from Google Images in the same way as using anything found on the web – PROVIDING YOU CREDIT IT! The hard thing is to successfully credit it to its original source and not just another user.

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