Online Resources for Scientists

Eva Lantsoght
3 mrt ’16

The past few months, we've been looking at social media and internet-related topics for scientists. I wrote about how to use Twitter as a scientist and about online branding for scientists. These topics dealt with scientists and academics taking on an active conversation among themselves and with the general public to shine some more light in this world (which, by the way, really is not flat - as scientists have convincingly explained).

Today, we are going to talk about the places where you a scientist can find information online that can be helpful. We're talking about a more passive role here: which websites are great sources of information, and which social media accounts are must follows?

I've divided my top-follows into different categories, and in each category I give you my recommendations:

1. Blogs

For those of you reading this post via PhD Talk, you can find some recommendations on the right side of this website, with my blog roll showing up. My favorite picks are the following blogs:

The Thesis Whisperer: I you read only one blog during your PhD, let it be Inger Mewburn's Thesis Whisperer - the home of all excellent advice for PhD candidates.

Zen Habits: If you want to find more peace and quiet in your busy head, this website can become your go-to resource.

The Self Help Hipster: Good advice on life and productivity, served up in a hearty sauce of biting Dutch sarcasm: what's not to love about this blog? Even if you do nothing with the good advice, you can have your lolz when reading the posts.

Get a life, PhD: If you want to know how it is possible to win at academia while working 9 to 5, you need to read Tanya Golash-Boza's blog. Her productivity skills are out of this world.

Noeska Smit - PhD student in Delft, who happens to write really well. She talks about her research and explorations in productivity.

Raul Pacheco-Vega: Professor in Mexico, with a writing work ethic that inspires us all. His writing schedule and weekly template schedule have influenced my planning a lot.

Tenure, She Wrote: A blog where women on and off the tenure track write about their experiences anonymously. Heart-breaking, honest, frustrating, enlightening and encouraging at times, this blog is talking about important topics.

Stylish Academic - Because we want to learn how to look good after living in ripped jeans and hoodies during all our years of grad school...

Matt Might: Blog which combines academic advice and computer science,

2. Twitter

Several categories of interesting tweeps are out there for you to follow and learn from. First of all, there are the university accounts. There are too many to name, but just but the universities you worked for or studied at in the search screen, as well as the university who are doing a lot of progress in your field to catch snippets of their research.

Then, there is the higher education news. My favorite accounts for this topic are:

@GdnHigherEd - news from the Guardian about higher education

@insidehighered - higher education news

@hetlportal - higher education teaching and learning (you might like to check out their LinkedIn group as well)

A third interesting category is people who tweet about academia and research:








... Really, there are too many people who deserve to be on my list. If you want some inspiration, check out the #ScholarSunday hashtag

A fourth category are the Twitter accounts of companies and professional organizations in your field. Think of the societies of which you are a member, and follow them on Twitter for their latest news. You can also follow conference accounts (who typically are only active before, during and after the conference).

3. Facebook

While I use Facebook less for my outreach activities, there are a number of good blogs and star scientists out there that keep you updated on their latest work through Facebook.

Piled Higher and Deeper: one day, during your PhD, you'll read every single comic on this page and full totally not guilty about it.

Dr. Sustainable: A blend of environmental activism and academia - and the former supported by the latter.

Next Scientist: Information on how to transition from a PhD to the industry, as well as on how to use digital resources in research. a wealth of articles about all possible life hacks. Be selective in your reading.

Greatist: on how to become your best self in terms of fitness and health.

4. Online tools

My last category is a modest attempt at pointing scientists to the possibilities out on the internet to make their lives easier:

Conversion tools: If you type into your Google search box "Convert 15kN to kip" it will make the conversion for you. Recently, the conversion possibilities have been extended, so you can now convert even more complex unities in the blink of an eye.

Scopus search: one of the typical resources for finding publications in many fields.

Web of Science: Another online tool for finding articles. The advantage is that here you can download Endnote references of articles, so you don't have to manually add all the information in your Endnote database.

Scimago Journal & Country Rank: Are you doubting where to submit your paper? The metrics of this website might be helpful to make a choice.

Todoist: I use Todoist for all my reminders and for my daily task lists. There are a number of similar websites out there, but I like Todoist's clean interface.

YouTube tutorials: computer problem? software difficult? In most cases, somebody already had this problem in the past and might have made a YouTube tutorial about it.

Coder fora or mailing lists: Are you learning a new programming language, and having a hard time with some of the details? Internet fora and mailing lists of coders can be a good place to ask your questions.

Google Scholar: another search engine, which searches not only for peer-reviewed papers but can also dig up reports and the like. Make sure the curate your profile here. A social media platform for scientists and researchers.

ResearchGate: Very similar to, with a bit more interaction between the members.

LinkedIn: I mostly use LinkedIn as a digital box of business cards - whenever I need to contact somebody, I typically have the connection on LinkedIn, independent of possible job changes.

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