Bloggers are time wasters

Because we are aren’t we? Really what’s the point? We should be off writing grant proposals, research papers, and (if there is anytime left) maybe do a spot of teaching. Blogging’s not going to get us anywhere, nobody takes it seriously so ,frankly, let’s all just pack it in and get on with some proper work. And if by chance we do stumble across something important (possible plagiarism or fraud maybe) then really we’d best tell the big boys and they’ll sort it out. If we really feel the need to write something about it then we can report the situation once its all sorted out.

Message received and understood.

At least that’s what some members of the community would have us do. Take the commenter (going by the name of bloggersaretimewasters) who responded to Chembark‘s eloquent rebuttal of ACS Nano editorial attempt to put bloggers in their place.

I took the liberty to check out your website at Saint Louis University. I am not sure what the requirements for tenure are in your department, but I can assure you that if you keep up the meager publication output you have had so far (despite working in excellent labs at outstanding universities) you would find it difficult to obtain tenure at a serious and reputable University (though you would likely have a good shot at a community college).
I have also cross referenced the publication output and credentials of several other “bloggers”, like yourself. What you all have in common, besides the self-proclaimed notion that you are doing the community a huge favor by uncovering so many frauds left right and centre is… a modest publication output and an overall “low” scientific profile. By low I don`t mean that you keep a low profile out of modesty, mind you.
Bottom line. How about you people try to forge your careers through your own discoveries and original scientific inquiries, rather than try to get ahead by attempting to undermine the work of others? Ah wait, I guess many of you don`t do it because you are not able to. That`s too bad.
You are wasting a lot of time and resources… I guess it will not really hit you until you are denied tenure. It seems you have started your tenure track position very recently, so maybe you are still in time. Please consider this post as a wake up call, because the day your tenure is denied (through peer review, mind you, not by declared or anonymous bloggers) it will be too late… game over!


I’m sure this attitude is far from uncommon. The majority of the people who think along these lines probably don’t bother reading our “time-wasting” outputs so certainly wouldn’t bother commenting on them. But, in my experience, this is an increasingly archaic view point. I have a permanent academic position in a UK university. I was recently promoted to the Senior Lecturer (UK equivalent of Associate Professor) not despite my blogging and other engagement activities, but, in no small part, BECAUSE of them. And increasingly, certainly in the UK, the need for scientists and academics to effectively communicate their views and work to a wider audience is being recognised: Nature Chemistry highlights bloggers outputs in every issue and take a look at the success of The Conversation, a news site written entirely by academics and sponsored by top research Universities such as Warwick, UCL, and Bristol as well as agencies such as the Wellcome Trust. Or on a smaller scale Guru Magazine again written largely by academics and funded by The Wellcome trust.

Yes my publication list would probably be longer if I did less blogging. But the same goes for spending time with family. Maybe I should stop wasting my time with them as well?


  1. I’d be tempted to reply:

    “Chemistry academics should stop wasting valuable time writing comments on blog posts about how pointless blogging is.”

  2. You know what, Mark? Thank God for “time wasters” like you! I think I can speak in the name of the other, countless time wasters, a.k.a. the blog readers.

  3. Ahhh, we’ve not had that old chestnut for a while…so ignorant.

  4. Another point that hasn’t been made – a long list of publications does not make a great or influential chemist. I feel that the push for publication is part of the reason we see more fraud out there, as well as the influx of predatory publishers. Pushing chemists to publish for the sake of publishing isn’t a good strategy – we should be encouraging quality science, student mentoring, and outreach to the public. How many papers are published each year that are never cited, rarely read, and contribute little to the literature base as a whole? I think if tenure views like those this commenter has are eliminated, we might see better science – and more failed/negative experimental reports – coming out of labs.

    • I totally agree. And I think the push towards quality over quantity is certainly happening in the UK. Our research excellence framework, by which university research outputs are judged, only looks at 4 papers per PI over the course of 6 years. And those papers are judged on their intrinsic quality, not where they were published (at least in theory).

  5. Wait, you blog and you have a family? My my…

  6. “But the same goes for spending time with family. Maybe I should stop wasting my time with them as well?”

    I know certain who would agree with you on that. You should never become like those people. No one should ever be like those people.

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  9. I think people that make logical fallacies instead of contributing to proper discussion are the real time wasters (such as the pathetic ad hom quoted in the blog post). Far to much of this crap goes on in academic chemistry, both on social media and in real life. I presonally have witnessed and been subjected to some quite outrageously childish behaviour from senior academics (one an FRS, no less) at leading universities that makes me unsurprised in the least by the petulant and foolish response from many about the value of chemistry blogs.

    This is why I left and joined the adults in Industry.

    I mean, we can’t even celebrate the award of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry properly without bitching about it.

    Academic chemistry needs to stop tolerating bullies and start respecting scientific integrity however it is expressed.

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