Do you Blog? Tweet? Want to Share with Us? We're Listening.

06
Mar

Do you Blog? Tweet? Want to Share with Us? We're Listening.

—from the PI's desk and the Lab Manager's Bench

There are some wonderful things about writing a blog: It’s easy to get started, you publish articles on your schedule, and you can bring attention to topics that you care about. But there are some difficult things about blogging too—such as crafting a story that you’re really proud of and then trying to get more people to read it.

This year, we’re planning to publish more guest posts on Undergrad In The Lab.com. This will expand the perspectives we offer our readers and give us the opportunity to promote others’ blogs on our site and through Twitter.

We specifically want articles and stories from bloggers who have already published their piece elsewhere. Think of this as recycling or repurposing your article. We're also interested in sharing your best twitter threads as a longer blog article on our site (more on this below).

Guest posts are open writers at all career stages— undergrads, postdocs, grad students, staff scientists, principal investigators…you get it. Articles that share beyond the undergrad experience are especially welcomed. We've connected with far too many people who have regretfully said, "I wish I would have known that others [experienced, struggled with, thought, tried, ignored...] when I was in career stage Y" to restrict contributions based on a professional title.

Stories about success or failures (or a combination of both) are welcome. However, we encourage you to only share the level of details that you're comfortable with without personally violating yourself. Our goal is to share your perspectives for the greater good not to compete for clicks.

We're primarily interested in your experiences and perspectives in the following categories: In the lab, Beyond the Lab, and Personal Journeys. Next are some suggestions for stories in each category.

In The Lab

Some topics that we're interested in are ones that demystify working in a lab, your experiences (possibly learning curve) as a mentor, working with a challenging labmate, or how you found your way with (or without) a supportive lab culture to lean on.

Articles in this category might also (or) address the following

  • The failure you thought would be career-ending but turned out to be okay (even if it was disappointing)
  • What you wish you would have known about working in your current lab before you started
  • Lessons learned from mentoring someone who didn't have the same advantages as you did (social, academic, financial, etc.)
  • How you define work-life balance and if you've received push-back from labmates, colleagues, family, or supervisors for trying to maintain it

Please note: we're not as interested in how-articles such as "how to get organized in the lab" or "how to find an undergrad research position" or "how to be a good labmate." We've got those covered. See the note below "What we're not looking for" for more details.

Beyond The Lab

We know that you're more than your research project or the last set of data you collected. We also know that you're a scientist in all of your life--while grocery shopping, streaming movies (perhaps to the annoyance of your family or friends) and even when you're just trying to chill.

So, we want to share articles you've written on your life outside the lab. Topics might include starting a side-hustle (whether it's connected to science or not), running an outreach program, how family members or friends expect you to be an authority in matters completely distinct from your field. Or you might have a really awesome way to disconnect from the day (or struggle to do it consistently), or have a hobby that has nothing to do with science that your friends are tired of you talking about.

Articles in this category might also (or) address the following

  • How does being a scientist influence your life outside the lab?
  • Why a hobby or participating in a non-science activity is personally meaning to you.
  • What is the best (or worst) advice you've received from someone so far? (This can be in any area of your life--buying a car, how to interview for a job, the best way to impress your PI, or another aspect.)

Personal Journeys

We're most interested in sharing articles that reflect your personal experiences or an aspect of your journey in academia thus far. You might be at the beginning of a new adventure you never thought you'd be part of, of reflecting on one that that was made harder (or easier) because of someone or something. Perhaps you're a member of an underrepresented group in science.

Maybe you're a first-generation scientist, belong to LGBTQ+ community, have disability (obvious or invisible) and already wrote an article that you wish someone would have given you earlier in your academic career. You might hold membership in several groups and want to share how that has influenced your choices, opportunities, or (dis)advantages.

Articles in this category might also (or) address the following

  • This is why my research project is personal to me
  • I'm a scientist and this is what I look like
  • Why leaving the academic path for another was the right, healthy, or best choice for me
  • The one thing (or person) that made all the difference for me (inspirational or cautionary)

Twitter Threads

Full disclosure here: this is an experiment and well, we'll just have to determine how it goes as it goes.

We've re-tweeted some wonderful threads on Twitter that we've wanted to do more with but weren't sure how. Bookmarking is okay, but it doesn't allow us to share stuff that is evergreen. So, keep tagging us in your Best of Threads in the personal journey, in the lab, and beyond the lab categories. We'll turn some of them into blog posts. (By the way, we've written several threads for Twitter and later turned them into a blog piece.)

Here are the guidelines to start: (We'll update these as our experiment continues)

  • We're thinking threads of 10 to 15 tweets seems about right. Not too long, but enough to get your point across and for us to add a short introduction and turn it into a blog piece.
  • Don't DM us these threads--tag us @YouInTheLab with the top tweet.
  • If we, or our followers, strongly connect with the thread, we'll be in touch via DM for your permission to turn it into a blog post on our site (giving you full credit, of course).
  • We're not promising a re-tweet. Sometimes we miss a notification because we're on a Twitter-Vacation or a thread is awesome but not quite right for our account.

So, if you’ve written an article that might be a good fit for our blog, send us a link to the article in a DM on Twitter @YouInTheLab or @TheLabMentor or through email. Note: don’t send a link to your blog and tell us to pick an article. Because, you know, we're busy too and won't be able to read through your entire blog in search of one.

But before you decide to send us a link to your article please read the guidelines below. If they aren’t okay with you, please don’t send us your work.

  1. All articles must be written by the person who submits them. Every part of every article (or Twitter thread) must be your own work. If your colleague wrote a post that you think would be perfect on our blog, they must be the one to request that we share it. But please tell them about us!
  2. Articles don’t need to be for undergrads only. Based on requests through our social media channels, we’ve been expanding the topics of our articles to include ones written for postdocs, graduate students, and their mentors. Plus, what you’ve learned as a postdoc in the lab, for example, is often relevant to an undergrad, grad, or other staff scientist experience too. And all researchers can benefit by learning from professionals in various career stages.
  3. You can be a brand new blogger or an infrequent poster. If your blog is new or you haven’t published in a while, that’s okay. We’re interested in what you’ve already written not how much you publish.
  4. What we're not looking for. Although we prefer to share articles on topics previously mentioned, we will consider some how-to advice pieces. However, we don't plan to share many of these. Research is challenging—we get it—so advice articles must define a problem and offer clear strategies, tips, and solutions. Also, although they are valuable science communication tools, articles that explain scientific concepts or are summaries of journal articles rewritten in accessible language aren't a good fit for our blog. And as much as we love to promote others, articles that could be confused as sponsored content (or an obvious advertisement for a product) won't be considered.
  5. Submitting an article does not guarantee that it will be published on our blog. If we decide not to share it, this doesn’t mean that your article isn’t well written, or interesting, or important. Sometimes we don’t share a great article that is too close to one we’ve recently published or one that is too general for our readers.
  6. We’re aiming for articles around 500 to 1,300 words per post. Your article might be edited for clarity or length prior to publication. And we'll probably add some bold or lists so your article fits with the style of our blog. Don't worry--you’ll have the opportunity to approve the changes before we publish.
  7. We do not offer payment for articles published on our site. Although some blogs and publishers require original content we're not one of them. Our goal is to bring greater attention to something you've already written for yourself because, hopefully, you enjoy writing a blog and have a unique perspective to share. If you've published an article that isn't part of a blog, but you own the copyright and the sharing embargo has passed, it's eligible to be reposted on our blog.

Things we need prior to publication:

  • A photo. We can only put one photo per blog post. If you want to use a photo of you in the lab, you must be wearing gloves, a lab coat, and goggles (if your work commonly requires them)—even if you’re staging the photo and not working. If you want to send a photo of you outside of the lab, that is okay too. If you want to send a photo of your research to represent you, that also works.
  • strong>Your preferred pronoun. We ask guest writer’s to tell us how they prefer to be referred to in the introduction we write for the piece and when we tweet about their article.
  • Contact details. To start, so we can give full credit to you as the author, we need your name, institute affiliation, current position, and a weblink to your blog. If you want us to to tag you in on Twitter when we promote your article, we'll need your Twitter handle, too.