As Elsevier Connect turns 2 — spotlighting our contributors
These authors wrote some of our most viewed and commented-on stories
By Alison Bert, Editor-in-Chief Posted on 17 September 2014
When we launched Elsevier Connect two years ago, we aimed to create a platform where members the global research community could learn about each other's work and engage in conversation.
Since then, what has made Elsevier Connect thrive its contributors, who come from all corners of the science and medical world. They include experts in the field as well as Elsevier colleagues, some of whom have also worked in science and health. About a third of our contributors are from outside of Elsevier. They write about their work, the challenges they encounter, and their ideas on everything from combating cyber warfare to sharing experimental data and 3D printing your lab equipment on the cheap. They give insight into current events and how technology is transforming science and publishing. And they give advice for researchers in the early stages of their careers.
Here, I highlight the authors of some of our most viewed and commented on stories.[divider]
Who me? I'm not an expert ...
I met Andy Greenspon (@andyman344) at the 2013 AAAS Conference in Boston. He had made some interesting remarks at Sense About Science's Ask for Evidence workshop for graduate students. Afterwards, I asked him if he would be willing to write an article for Elsevier Connect. He hesitated and said he wasn't an expert yet – he was "just" a first-year PhD student in applied physics at Harvard.
To many of us, that's impressive in itself, but understandably he has high standards for science writing. So I told him he could write about what he is an expert on – being a first-year PhD student. His article, "Nine things you should consider before embarking on a PhD," has more than 80,000 views and 80 comments from people around the world, many asking his advice.[divider]
A (science) star is born
Another young author was discovered when he showed up to present his mathematical model for earthquake prediction at an Elsevier conference in The Hague.
Those who invited Suganth Kannan didn't realize he was just 12 years old.
After successfully submitting his paper to Elsevier's Journal of Engineering Failure Analysis, he wrote an essay on the experience for Elsevier Connect: "How I published in a scientific journal at age 12" — which drew much praise for the young author on social media:
And we featured him again last month when he predicted a major earthquake near San Francisco – a story that was subsequently covered in SPIEGEL Online in Germany. The story even drew the attention of the European Commission:
Transforming your STEM career through leadership and innovation
Many of our authors are leaders in their field. Dr. Pamela McCauley Bush is a nationally recognized speaker, author and Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida, where she leads the Human Factors in Disaster Management Research Team. She was the first African American woman to earn an engineering PhD in her home state of Oklahoma. Since then, she has authored over 80 technical papers, book chapters and conference proceedings.
She outlined her strategies for women to succeed in male-dominated fields in her book Transforming your STEM Career Through Leadership and Innovation, published last year by Elsevier and featured in Elsevier Connect. This story includes a book except: "Six steps to becoming a leader." Soon after, she wrote an article for us titled "Eight myths of leadership (by a STEM leader)."[divider]
Revealing "the hidden profession that saves lives" — and how to finish your PhD faster
I first encountered Professor Rodney Rohde when he left a comment of praise on Andy Greenspon's story, adding a bit of career advice of his own. Dr. Rohde is a MRSA specialist and chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science program at Texas State University. I asked him if he would consider elaborating on his comment, and he wrote "Ten tips to finishing your PhD faster."
Nearly a year later, people continue to share and comment on that story, often asking him for advice.
Since then, two other stories he wrote have become widely popular: "A secret weapon for preventing HAIs" and "The hidden profession that saves lives." The latter brings to light a career option with great job prospects for undergraduates in the life sciences.
This is one of many comments people posted on social media.
Sharing the skills of publishing – step by step
Another expert writing about what he knows well is Dr. Angel Borja, Head of Projects at AZTI-Tecnalia, a research center in the Basque Country in Spain specializing in marine research and food technologies. As an editor of several journals in marine research who has authored and reviewed hundreds of articles, he knows well "How to Prepare a Manuscript for International Journals" – the title of his series for Elsevier Connect.
Dr. Borja combines step-by-step instructions on the basics with dos and don'ts gleaned from 32 years in the field – and the perspective that comes from being an editor and reviewer. His first two articles continue to be read and shared by people around the world: Six things to do before writing your manuscript and 11 steps to structuring a science paper editors will take seriously.
High-tech approaches to high-tech fraud
Elizabeth Wager's company Sideview offers training, editing, writing and consultancy on medical publications, and she was chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) from 2009 to 2012. In her Elsevier Connect article "High-tech approaches to high-tech fraud," she writes about how journal editors and academic institutions are using technology to spot plagiarism and image manipulation. "Starting at college level, students' essays and term papers are now routinely scanned for plagiarism," she writes, "and the same text-matching software tools are increasingly being used by journals."[divider]
What science is missing when women are missing
Dr. Elizabeth Pollitzer is Managing Director and a founding member of Portia Ltd. With funds from the Elsevier Foundation's New Scholars program, her organization developed a report on approaches to supporting women's career progression in science, especially in the early stages.
In her story "What science is missing when women are missing," she shows how gender neutrality in scientific studies – in which the study design takes into account the needs of both women and men as equally important — can make research more meaningful and open up new markets for scientific knowledge. She gives of products that suffered because they were tested primarily on med include the first voice recognition products, the safety of cars that were tested with crash dummies based on the male body, and the lack of data on women in toxicology models when testing certain drugs.
She has also written about the annual Gender Summit, which addressed the fact that gender is becoming a criterion for grant funding in the European Union. [divider]
From climate change to "co-authors gone bad"
Dr. Richard Primack, Professor in the Department of Biology at Boston University and Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier's journal Biological Conservation, has written six fascinating stories along with some of his colleagues.
- In "Do scientists work too hard?" he writes about a study he co-authored in Biological Conservation that looks at which countries have the hardest-working scientists.
- In "Tracking climate change with the help of Henry David Thoreau," he and co-author Dr. Abraham J. Miller-Rushing write about how they used the notebooks of the 19th-century naturalist help show changes to the flowers and fauna of Concord, Massachusetts.
- And in "Co-authors gone bad – how to avoid publishing conflicts," he and co-authors Dr. John A. Cigliano and Dr. Chris Parsons share their own experiences – and solutions – and ask you for yours. In fact, many of you took up their challenge. You can read the comments here.
Fracking – the pros and cons
One of our most popular stories was written Dr. Scott A. Elias, Professor of Quaternary Science in the Department of Geography of Royal Holloway, University of London and Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Science.
In "Fracking — the pros and cons," he writes about "what's really going on beneath our feet when we use fracking to extract natural gas from deep underground."[divider]
About Elsevier Connect
Elsevier Connect is an online platform with daily stories for the global science, health and technology communities, shared via a broad social media community. Contributors are experts in the field as well as Elsevier colleagues. If you have an idea for a story, please contact Editor-in-Chief Alison Bert: Elsevier_Connect@elsevier.com.
Elsevier Connect Contributor
Alison Bert (@AlisonBert) is Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier Connect. She joined Elsevier five years ago from the world of journalism, where she was a business reporter and blogger for The Journal News, a Gannett daily newspaper in New York. In the previous century, she was a classical guitarist on the music faculty of Syracuse University. She holds a doctorate in music from the University of Arizona, was a Fulbright scholar in Spain and performed in the 1986 international master class of Andrés Segovia.