Tag Archives: science maps

The Multidisciplinarity of Freelance Medical/Science Writing

It was meant to be a funny status update–I mentioned on Facebook yesterday that I was spending my Saturday brushing up on neuroscience. As most people do, right? Then one of my fellow medical writers said something like, “Well, that’s part of our line of work, right?” It got me thinking that not only is freelance writing, of any sort, something that is done at all hours of the day and night, but medical/science writing is also a career that asks you to learn something new every day. At the moment, between my day job at the healthcare comm agency and my freelance business, I am writing about cardiovascular imaging, bronchoconstrictive disease, chronic kidney disease, oncofertility, neurobiology of memory, network and Web science, personalized medicine, primary care delivery, and health care policy. And writing about these things isn’t cursory. I need to understand the science, the medicine, the hypotheses, the theories, the applications, the implications, and the connections with other areas. It’s almost inevitable that each topic area ends up being seen not as independent but as interconnected: how will personalized medicine be applied to oncofertility? How can the Web inform health care policy? I am asked to apply all the segments of Bloom’s Taxonomy to each one and in combination.

And I think that’s why I continue to work all hours as a freelance writer. I absolutely love how it challenges me to learn something new, make new connections (and synapses), work in a truly multidisciplinary way, and then write coherently so that I can share that knowledge with various audiences. I don’t think I would be able to keep up my crazy schedule–brushing up on neuroscience while the kids are eating cereal and watching Caillou, or editing grants at 3AM–if I didn’t love it.

I also think this is why I am so entranced with maps of science – particularly this one – because they illustrate just how interconnected all areas of research are. It’s nice to think that my synapses may one day be connected in the same way…

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Geeking Out Over Science Maps

A few months ago, I covered the First Annual International Conference on the Science of Team Science (SciTS). For a brief description if SciTS, check out the Wiki entry I helped write here. In an even smaller nutshell, SciTS is the study of how science is done collaboratively, by teams of researchers. Funding agencies are particuarly interested in how successful and efficient team science is versus the traditional single-PI, silo-based model. Can basic science discoveries reach a translational stage faster by groups of researchers working together, or will the overarching research effort be thwarted by logistical, geographical, institutional, and personal barriers? The hope is that research in the field of SciTS will lead to an understanding these obstacles and how to overcome them, guidance on the best ways to measure the success of team science, and the development of tools that can help researchers working in teams and the SciTS researchers themselves.

I learned that there are many types of data that are used by SciTS researchers to assess how team research is done – but the method that I totally geeked out over was mapping the relationships between science research groups, by co-authorship on journal articles, or being co-PIs on grants, among other metrics. I guess I’m just a sucker for visual aids – I did end up studying cell signaling, didn’t I? Lots of complicated pretty maps in cell signalling.

Anyway, one of my new favorite sites is Maps of Science. I loved the Disciplinary Posters so much I sent away for one and it’s now proudly adorning my office wall, reminding me of how all scientific endeavor is connected. A friend of mine took my obsession one step further and sent me a link to the site Visual Complexity. Now I am totally done for.