Happy Anniversary Highlight HEALTH, ScienceRoll & Sterile Eye!

13 12 2011

Starting a blog is easy. But maintaining a blog costs time and effort. Especially when having a job/while studying (and having a private life as well).

This blog almost celebrates its 4th year (February 2012).

I’m happy to notice that many established (bio)medical & library blogs, that inspired me to start blogging, are still around.

Like one of the greatest medical blogs, CasesBlog by Dr Ves Dimov. And the medlib blogs The Search Principle blog by Dean Giustini and the Krafty Librarian by Michelle Kraft.

All these blogs are still going strong.

The same is true for the blog ScienceRoll by Bertalan Mesko (emphasis on health 2.0), that celebrated its 5th anniversary last month. That same month Sterile Eye (Life, death and surgery through a lens) celebrated its 4th year of existence.

This month Highlight Health (main author Walter Jessen) celebrates its 5th year anniversary.

And the nice thing is that Highlight Health celebrates this with prize pack giveaways.

There are 4 drawings. Each prize pack consist of the following:

All you have to do is to subscribe to the blog in the form of an email alert. People, like me, who are already subscribers are also eligible to participate in the drawings. (see this post for all info)

With so many ‘golden oldies’ around, I wonder about you, my audience. Do you blog? And if you do, for how long? Please tell me in the poll below.

If you are a (bio)medical, library or science blogger (blogging in English), I would appreciate if you could fill in this spreadsheet as well. You are free to edit the spreadsheet and add names of other bloggers as well.





Multi-Author Medical Blogs – At the End it is all about Credibility

9 03 2011

Recently, Bertalan Mesko (Berci on Twitter) was asking his twitter followers whether they had a favorite Web 2.0 story.  Berci needed examples for his yearly “Internet in Medicine course” at the university of Debrecen.

Doctor Ves (drVes) and Berci discussed various examples of blogs that had grown in a way: a blog that branched from blog to most popular podcast/physician-radio host (Dr. Anonymous), Kevinmd.com starting from a solo blog with 2-line snippets to a HuffPost-style conglomerate, DiabetesMine becoming a group voice with increasing popularity and industry recognition and Dean Giustini’s start from blog to the openmedicine journal based on WordPress.

And while those are all great examples, I just wondered whether growth from single to multi-authored blogs is per definition “the best” and something one should strive for. Does growth in number of authors automatically mean: “growth” of the blog? And in what respect? Is sheer growth of traffic and a greater audience the most important?

This blog regularly had guest posts in the pasts and they were surely an enrichment. Shamsha Damani was the main contributor. Her welcomed posts were in line with the theme of this blog (evidence based medicine, library-related topics), but had a fresh new look at certain topics (see for instance Grey literature time to make it systematic and  Uptodate versus Dynamed. The post were written by Shamsha, but I reviewed them before publication. Because after all, I’m responsible for the blogs content.

Guest posts/co-authorships can help to post more often. Variety in topics, style and perspectives may  further engage the readership and enhance traffic.

All good things. However, there is a big BUT, the BUT of quality and consistency.

If the blog has a theme or a focus, all authors should more or less adhere to it. Writers can have different opinions and perspectives but these should not be in conflict with the basic principles. And it surely shouldn’t be nonsense!

Good examples of blogs where authors replenish each other while adhering to a basic style are: Life in the Fast Lane (focus: emergency medicine and critical care, education, web.20 & fun) and the Health Informaticists (pretty much the scope of this blog: EBM, health 2.0, knowledge management).

Another good example is Science Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog. Last year however one author (Amy Tuteur) resigned after

….”it had become clear to both the editors of SBM and Dr. Tuteur herself that, although Dr. Tuteur had routinely been able to stimulate an unprecedented level of discussion regarding the issues we at SBM consider important, SBM has not been a good fit for her and she has not been a good fit for SBM“.

Splitting up can be a good decision in case of unresolvable differences in approach. It was remarkable however that part of the  readers (167 comments to the post) were sad about Amy Tuteur’s leave, because they found her posts stimulating and engaging. Some people like (literally) thought provoking posts, while others rather see thoughtful (and sometimes predictable) posts supported by evidence.

Posts that don’t fit in can pose great credibility problems, not only for co-authored blogs, but also for blogs with guest posts. The well known KevinMD blog, cited above because it has grown from a single to a multi-author blog, recently came under fire because of a controversial guest post. Two (almost) equally famous “skeptic” bloggers devoted an entire post to this mishap, Orac of Respectful Insolence:Say it ain’t so, Dr. Pho! Credulity towards alternative medicine on KevinMD” and Steven Novella at Neurologica Blog wrote That treatment is not based on science? Don’t Worry, says KevinMD.

In his guest post “Why alternative care seems to work“, Peter Weiss assumes that people don’t try (or are even unwilling(!) to try CAM, because they don’t know the working mechanism. Weis’s post is a credulous plea for CAM:

Don’t get so hung up on the explanation that you don’t believe in, that you’re unwilling to try a practice that might actually help you.  Just keep an open mind.  You don’t have to know everything about how things work; you just have to know that they work. Just like, do I really understand electricity or do I just know that if I turn the light switch, the light comes on?

Weis tries to prove his point by saying that a highly prescribed drug as Lunesta has no known working mechanism either. Besides that this is ludicrous comparison, it isn’t true either. We do have a clue as to how Lunesta works (albeit falsifiable like everything in Science). Furthermore, Lunesta is effective whereas there is no such evidence for acupuncture or chiropractic. So should we just go and try and see instead of making an informed decision on basis of evidence  and plausibility?

This post is unlike the critical voice we usually hear from Kevin Pho. Regularly he warns against overtreatment and unnecessary screening,  for instance.

Bloggers seldom critic each other, but this quack-like post has led Steven Novella to conclude:

Weiss’s post on KevinMD is very disappointing, and unfortunately indicates that the filter on that blog for guest posts does not appear to be adequate. I hope it does not indicate a shift in philosophy away from science-based medicine, which would be worse.

Orac is much harsher.  He even devotes two posts to the topic. In style with the blog title he rages a respectful insolent rant: he will remove Kevin MD from his blogroll and will cease to recommend Kevin’s blog as a reliable source of medical information.

Orac -and many of his readers are also displeased with Kevin’s response (where he does admit they are kind of right):

Orac,

I appreciate the critique. As readers of this blog know, I often post pieces here I don’t necessarily agree with myself to promote discussion and debate. Your concerns are certainly valid, and will be taken into consideration as I choose future pieces.

Best,
Kevin

Orac even spent a second post to show the ridiculosity of  teaching the controversy in medicine by “posting pieces you don’t necessarily agree with” . What annoyed people the most was the lack of a disclaimer or an informed comment.

Basically I agree that Kevin should select more critically* and if a bad posts slips through, he should retract, openly criticize, or at least (directly) comment to the post. Indirectly saying that you will be more careful next time is not enough, IMHO. Furthermore comments were closed very soon, not giving people ample chance to respond.

On the other hand, Kevin agrees with the critique on multiple occasions. Also, I do not think that he has only traffic in mind when he includes many guest posts. He invites readers to “Submit a guest post to be heard on social media’s leading physician voice”. In line with this, Kevin once rejected a nomination in the Medgadget blog contests, probably so that some lesser known blogger would get more recognition out of the awards (roguemedic.com). Furthermore, many of the guest posts are interesting and of high quality. Thus, hopefully, this is an exception.

Anyway, this incident illustrates a pitfall of multi-author or multi-guest blogs. Posts should not be in conflict with  the basic principles of the blog. This will be directly noticed by experts in the field and certainly by skeptics), who immediately pounce on any contradictory message. But eventually conflicting standpoints may also dismay or -even worse- confuse other readers (patients, lay people).

In the end blogging is not only about the traffic. It is about credibility. It is not even about your own reputation, it is about the credibility of medical blogs in general.

*************************************

*Earlier, in a short discussion on Twitter dr Ves pointed out: “Well, Kevin is the publisher and he decides what deserves to get in, readers decide whether to follow… Similar to newspaper”. He also stresses we can’t tell KevinMD what to publish. Which is true. However, Kevin Pho and other prominent medical bloggers have a great responsibility towards an audience consisting of people  who seek to be well-informed. Medical statements should be accurate and assumptions should be plausible.
By the way, even newspapers make corrections now and then.

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MedLibs Round: Update & Call for Submissions June 2010

4 06 2010

In the past months we had some excellent hosts of the round, really “la crème de la crème” of the medical information/libarary blogosphere:

2010 was heralded by Dr Shock MD PhD, followed by Emerging Technologies Librarian (@pfanderson) The Krafty Librarian (@krafty) and @Eagledawg (Nikki Dettmar).

Nikki  hosted the round for a second time, but now on her new blog: Eagledawg.net. The title: E(Patients)-I(Pad)-O(pportunities):Medlibs Round

Last Month the round was hosted by Danni (Danni4info) at The Health Informaticist, my favorite English EBM-library blog. It is a great round again, about “dealing with PubMed trending analysis, liability in information provision, the ‘splinternet’, a search engine optimisation (SEO) teaser from CILIP’s fresh off the presses Update magazine, and more. Missed it? You can read it here.

And now we have a few days left to submit our posts for the Next MedLibs Round, hosted by yet another excellent EBM/librarian blogger: @creaky at EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC.

She would like posts about “Reference Questions (or People) I Won’t Forget” (thus “memorable” encounters that took place in a public service/reference desk setting, over your career) or “how the library/librarian” has helped you.
But as always other relevant and good quality posts related to medical information and medical librarianship will also be considered.

For more details see the (2nd!) Call for submissions post at EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC

I am sure you all have a story to tell. So please share it with @creaky and us!

As always, you can submit the permalink (URL) (of your post(s) on your blog) here.

************

I would also like to take the opportunity to ask if there are any med- or medlib-bloggers out there who would like to host the MEDLIBS round August, September, October.

The MEDLIBs Round is still called the MedLibs round because I got too little response (6 votes including mine) to the poll with other name suggestions. Neither did I get any suggestions regarding the design of the MEDLIBS-logo, Robin of Survive the Journey has offered to make [for details see request here]. I hope you will take the time to fill in the poll below, and to think about any suggestions for a logo. Thanks!

@ links to the twitteraccounts





Researchblogging Awards. Beaten by a (Former) Rat.

23 03 2010

The winners of the Researchblogging contest have been selected.

I was rudely confronted with the harsh reality that I lost from a fellow Philosophy, Research, or Scholarship blogger, Richard Grant of Confessions of a (former) Lab Rat (and  previously of Life of a Lab Rat).

Very subtle Richard just left a note: “Sorry”.

“Thanks” Richard! And congratulations from the bottom of my heart… (no kidding, I really mean congrats!)
But in one respect you were wrong. You said: “We don’t have the sort of blogs that win awards” Well at least you were half wrong. ;)

Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science (No?) deserves a special mention, because he won in 3 (!) categories: Research blog of the year, blog post of the year and best lay-level blog. So if you don’t know this blogger it may well be worthwhile to take a look at his blog.

Of course this is also true for all other winners (depicted below).
You can visit their blogs and/or see their Research Blogging (RB) Page.

Congrats to all winners! And heads up to all other finalists. You’re winners too!





Research Blogging Awards 2010

5 03 2010

Research Blogging Awards 2010It is now possible to vote for the winners of the 2010 Research Blogging Awards.

Yet another blog contest, I can hear you say.

Yes, another blog contest, but a very special one. It is a contest among outstanding bloggers who discuss peer-reviewed research.

There are over 1,000 blogs registered at ResearchBlogging.org., responsible for 9,500 posts about peer-reviewed journal articles.

By February 11, 2010, readers had made over 400 nominations. Then, according to researchblogging.org, “the expert panel of judges painstakingly assessed the nominees to select 5 to 10 finalists in each of 20 categories”.

The categories include:

  • Research Blog of the Year  with some excellent blogs like Neuroskeptic (RB page) and Science-Based Medicine (RB page)
  • Blog Post of the Year
  • Research Twitterer of the Year including David Bradley, Dr. Shock and Bora Zivkovic
  • Best New Blog (launched in 2009)
  • Best Expert-Level blog 
  • Best Lay-Level blog 
  • Funniest Blog 
  • Blogs in other languages, like German and Chinese
  • Blogs according to specialty like Biology, Health, Clinical Research, NeuroScience, Psychology etc

I was surprised and honored to note that Laika’s MedLiblog is finalist in the section Philosophy, Research, or Scholarship. Another librarian, Anne Welsh of First Person Narrative is also finalist in this section.

  1. First Person Narrative (RB page)
  2. Christopher Leo (RB page)
  3. The Scientist (RB page)
  4. Laika’s MedLibLog (RB page)
  5. Good, Bad, and Bogus (RB page)

It is now up to you, researchbloggers to vote for your favorite blogs. You don’t need to vote for all categories. It is simply too much and in case of Chinese blogs wouldn’t make much sense either.

You can only cast your vote if you are registered with ResearchBlogging.org.
If you’re not registered (and you blog about peer-reviewed research), you still have time to register. See here for more information. This way you can vote, and most important, can contribute to ResearchBlogging.org. with your review of peer reviewed scientific articles.

Voting closes on March 14, and awards will be announced on ResearchBlogging.org on March 23, 2010.





BlogWorld Expo [SOTB]: Two Additional Videos

25 10 2009

s739843689_121258_9975 dr valToday I learned there were two more videos realted to the BlogWorld Expo, that I shouldn’t withhold you.

First, the ABC News Covered the Medblogger Track At Blog World Expo. Here is an interview with Dr. Val Jones with Dave Lucas of ABC.

The video “Medical Bloggers On ABC News: Empowering Patients With Accurate Information” is summarized as follows at her blog Get Better Health:

….”Dave Lucas is tired of all the false health information that fills his email inbox each day. He’s very relieved that there are physicians, nurses, and patient advocates “swimming against the tide” of pseudoscience and misleading health information online. Today Dave and I discussed how people can find accurate and potentially life-saving health information through peer-reviewed medical blogs, thanks to the health blogger code of ethics (administered by MedPage Today)”.

Another interview was with Paul Levy, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and author of Running a Hospital. Paul participated in a panel discussion as part of the Medblogger Track (co-sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and MedPage Today). Because the video is barely audible, I just mention his main statements (highlighted in red in the video shown here at the JNJ Health Channel):

  • Paul writes his blogposts without any prior permission or approval process
  • It is quicker to fix a mistake on a blog, than it is in traditional media
  • Biggest regret is responding to sarcastic or hostile comments in kind instead of staying above the fray

Medical Bloggers On ABC News: Empowering Patients With Accurate Information

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BlogWorld Expo [SOTB] & The Status of the Medical Blogosphere

25 10 2009

During my stay in Singapore from October 9th-16th there were 2 other great events, one of them  being the Blogworld Expo, the  World largest Conference on Blogging in the Las Vegas Convention Center. As a matter of fact, I would never have the opportunity to go to such a place, because I’m blogging in my spare time and although it has many spin-offs for my work, I would never have the resources and the time to go there. So, it was with a little jealousy and envy that I followed all those cheerful tweets from my colleague medbloggers. They apparently had a lot to talk about, -also outside the context of the meeting. I even understood that Bongi came all the way from South Africa.  And I can’t say the video below eases the pain ;) :

more about “Scenes from Blog World Expo 2009 and …“, posted with vodpod
Image of Kim McAllister from Facebook
Image of Kim McAllister

It was the first time during the Blogworld Expo there was a medblogging-track. Thanks to the effort of Kim McAllister of Emergiblog. She posted a kind of a *rant* that there was nothing for medbloggers at two events. Seeing this, one organizer of Blogworld Expo commented: we have a place for you if you want to come. Johnson & Johnson were willing to sponsor, and MedPage Today offered an additional sponsorship. Below is an interview with Kim as well as with another well known blogging nurse, Gina Rybolt of Codeblog. In this interview “the conversation turns to why they blog, how they manage to do it without compromising their patient’s privacy and how they wish marketers and pharma brands would approach them.”

Rohit Bhargava who interviewed both nurses also interviewed the famous medical blogger Kevin Pho of KevinMD about why he blogs, what results he has seen and the future of the medical blogosphere the future of Medical Blogging. He makes clear why it is important for doctors to blog. However, there is one major obstacle for busy physicians, namely: TIME!

Want more information an/or pictures on the medblog-part of the conference, please see:

The opening keynote of the Blogworld Expo was delivered by Richard Jalichandra, CEO of Technorati, showing some highlights from their annual study following the growth and trends in the annual State of the Blogosphere. The report was released over five days. (See Techcruch for presentation and short explanation ; the entire report is available at Technorati)

What I found most interesting:

  • In Social Media the content is the conversation.
  • There is a rising class of “professional” bloggers.
  • But still Hobbyists represent 76% of all bloggers
    (I have some problems with the division in ‘professional bloggers’ and ‘hobbyist’ though, since professional bloggers are those regarded as “earning some money” and hobbyists are regarded as those that don’t. I think there should at least be 3 main groups: those blogging as a profession (earn money), those blogging as an expert (mostly) in their free time (professionally) and those writing about their hobbies, children etc (hobbyists).
  • The hobbyists blog for fun and to express themselves
  • 15% is part time professional, they blog to supplement their income and to share their expertise
  • 9% is self-employed, 4% is corporate (see Figure below)
  • Of the professional bloggers 2 thirds are male, 16% are 18-44, are more effluent and educated than the general population and the hobbyist bloggers (hmmm that also pleads against medbloggers not belonging to this group)
  • 73% of all bloggers use Twitter vs 14% of the general population (but nr 1 reason is to promote their blog)
  • 26% of bloggers who also use Twitter say that the service has eaten into the time they spend updating their traditional blogs – though 65% say it has had no effect.
  • on average only .83% of the page views come from Twitter referrals.
  • Advise to succeed: be passionate.
  • Bloggers believe that politics (57%) and technology/business (44%-20%) are among the fields most impacted by the blogosphere, and that they will continue to be transformed by the blogosphere going forward. Health was only mentioned by 5%.

I wonder where/whether Science/Health/Medbloggers fit in? Are they underrepresented in the study? Or do they belong to a minority anyway? See here a discussion on Twitter (catched with QuoteURL)

sotb1 technorati 209

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