Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Happened to Blog Syn?

"What Happened to Blog Syn?"*

I get asked that question a few times every week. With questions about scientific (ir)reproducibility and data integrity popping up everywhere, it would seem apropos to resurrect the blog from its months-long slumber. So why aren't we posting?

Changing Circumstances: Five synthetic chemists ran most of the experiments for the first three posts.
Where are they now?

- One moved to another country, and hasn't started in his new lab
- One defended his Ph.D., and moved to another state
- One passed his qualifying exams, and wrote a bunch of papers for a new lab
- One faced a daunting funding situation at his small company, along with changes in work responsibilities
- (I don't know where the last person is...!)

So . . . life happened.

Time: The process of coordinating and writing a Blog Syn entry takes a while. Let's compare:

Just Like Cooking: Read interesting paper, dig up literature, make some graphics, edit, post.
Time: 20-60 minutes

Blog Syn: Read interesting paper, discuss with Twitter community and coworkers, read supporting literature and SI, coordinate across multiple time zones by email, order reagents, run experiments, purify, analyze, compare data, coordinate response by email / Skype / Twitter, construct post, peer edit, post.
Time: 2-4 weeks

Resources: We have no formal funding model. At present, our labs bear Blog Syn's costs, and that's OK for reagents you have just sitting around. It becomes dicey, though, to convince purchasing managers to order unusual reagents for your pet projects.

People: Despite multiple attempts to recruit chemists to the cause, we've not added anyone new to our roster. I've sent out at least three separate email blasts, had some nibbles, but no one has committed. I feel it would be disingenuous to run each experiment in triplicate myself, since that only proves that I could repeat all my own mistakes.

I think what's happening to Blog Syn is what happens to all volunteer organizations over time. Life happens. People move. Interests shift and change. Resources dwindle. The message and mission grow muddy.

*HELP WANTED: I'd really like to keep this going; I have preps picked out to try, folks to review and publicize posts, even some potential funding to fall back on. So, who's with me? Who wants to help revitalize Blog Syn?

If you've been dragging your heels and wish to get involved, don't hesitate to contact me!
Operators are standing by...