Behind the Scenes of Medical Blogs: Neurophilosophy

moheb.jpgI’ve already presented some famous medical bloggers to you. My aim is to get my readers closer to these quality blogs and the bloggers as well. I’d like to convince more and more health professionals/people interested in medicine to create their own blogs by providing interesting “behind-the-scenes” interviews. The eighth blogger in this series is Moheb Costandi, the Neurophilosopher.

  • How do you find information for your blog? You certainly read other blogs, journals but do you use RSS? How many blogs do you track?

I get my information mainly from the journals and the science stories in the mass media. It’s all aggregated in Google Reader, with which I’m subscribed to about 1,250 feeds (mostly blogs of all sorts). Of these, I only track about 100. The ones I read regularly are the science news feeds and my favourite blogs.

  • You provide incredibly detailed posts and you write often. How much time does it take a day to be up-to-date and to maintain your blog?

When I started blogging in February of last year, I was spending 12 hours a day at a computer. I had very little else to do, so I had plenty of time to read and to write those detailed posts. But my routine has changed dramatically in recent months. Due to some major changes in my circumstances, I’ve got far less computer time at the moment. So I’ve reverted to the traditional methods – printing papers, reading them at work during the day and taking notes that I type up later. This has made me more focused on what I write. However, I’m nowhere near as prolific as I used to be, but I hope to have more time to devote to blogging in the near future.

  • You always give attention to the references and sources of your writings. Do you think your readers click on those?

Only occasionally I think. At the old blog, I had a count of outgoing clicks on the stats page, and I did notice regular small numbers of clicks on the PDFs I linked to. The main reason I cited my sources so extensively was to make the blog seem as academic as possible.

  • Recently, you moved to What are your first experiences? Is it a better place to be a neurophilosopher?

It’s been great joining ScienceBlogs (and actually I’ve just come back from a long weekend in New York, during which I met many of my new “colleagues”.) I think there are a number of advantages to blogging with the Seed Media Group. First, I feel like part of a wider community, whose other members have similar interests to mine. Secondly, the bloggers there are all outstanding, so to be accepted into the network is to be recognized. And finally, ScienceBlogs is an experiment in scientific writing/ publishing, and as such is something exciting to be involved in.

  • What about the scientific journals? Have they discovered you and your blog? Do your colleagues know about your blog and your achievements?

I’m pretty sure that the journals haven’t discovered me and my blog. Then again, the old blog was on PostGenomic, which is maintained by Nature. And I’m not sure if “discovered” is even the right word, because I don’t think I’ve got anything to offer the journals. In fact, I see weblogs as a threat to the monopoly on the distribution of scientific information, so I don’t think the journals are going to accept them as legitimate any time soon. On the other hand, researchers sometimes send me PDFs of their newly-published papers, asking if I’d be interested in writing about their research on the blog. Several others have told me that they read my blog every now and then to see what’s going in other areas of neuroscience. As if I provide them some kind of news service.If, by “colleagues”, you mean other lab members, etc., the answer is no, the reason being that I’m not currently in academia. Seven years ago, I was doing a Ph.D. in Developmental Neurobiology at King’s College London. But I left without completing it, for various reasons. Next month (September 2007) I’ll be returning to UCL, where I read neuroscience as an undergraduate, to study for a M.Sc/ Ph.D in neuroscience. I mentioned on the application form that I have a neuroscience blog, but they didn’t ask me about it at the interview.

  • At last, what are your future plans with your blog?

I just want to keep doing what I’m already doing. That is, to continue writing about things that interest me. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned in the past 18 months, just by writing the blog. Because of the blog, I’m doing the things that I enjoy most: reading, writing and learning. And I can’t foresee anything that will stop me from blogging.

Thank you, Moheb, for the great answers! For more about neuroscience, check out the Neurophilosophy blog!

Behind-the-Scenes interviews so far: