Right Turn: Resources for scientists

Author: Stacey Johnson, 05/13/16

I’ve read enough PhD Comics to understand that being a scientist is hard. (I work with them too, but I’m saving those stories for my tell-all autobiography.)

Recently I stumbled upon* what I believe could be a useful resource for scientists to make their lives a little easier, and it made me wonder what other tools exist to help you work more effectively, efficiently and effortlessly. (*This is a long story that I’m saving for that aforementioned book.)

Sure, there is Twitter, but by now you have either adopted it or are holding out for some other reason that I probably won’t be able to sway you from. But maybe Ben Paylor or Nick Dragojlovic can convince you otherwise, with their posts on the benefits of social media for scientists.

My colleague, Joanna Fromstein P Eng, recommends the Web of Science, a similar platform to PubMed. She likes it because you click on an article and then you can find others that have cited it and, she says, “it’s sort of like falling down a Wikipedia hole where one article can lead you to another, which leads you to an author that you hadn’t encountered before, who’s published lots on a topic of interest to you, etc.” It sounds like an excellent tool for productive procrastination. There is also ResearchGate for getting answers to protocol, method or data analysis questions.

I’m a fan of articles in The Conversation, which bills itself as “academic rigor” (it is written by academics) “with journalistic flair.” This article, by Michael Brown of Monash University, advises scientists “How not to write about science.” Take note!

And finally, the inspiration for this post.

Steve Hawley, a Toronto data analyst and web designer who has a master’s degree in molecular biology and neuroscience, (not Steve Hawley the astronaut), has produced a series of video tutorials called Photoshop for the Scientist to help beginners up to professionals use Photoshop to design and analyze their data.

Steve spends hours on these videos and expects nothing in return. Although if advertisers came calling, I don’t think he’d turn them away. In my email correspondence with him, he does reference the “$10 in ad revenue under [his] belt” and feels it is “only a matter of time until [he] starts making internet millions.” Is that the same thing as bitcoin?

Steve is a funny guy so you may find yourself laughing while you’re learning. Or not. Apparently a lot of the humour is just for him. “Come to think of it, there’s a lot of inside jokes throughout the series that really only I understand. I don’t know why I keep putting them in….” I’ll let you decide whether the information and the jokes are worth your time.

Before I leave you to watch the video, Steve says he finds Lynda.com to be a helpful resource. Please let me know what resources you find helpful by leaving a comment below.



Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.
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