So what is the site about?
Errant Science is a blog about being a scientist and working in academia today. Posts cover a range of topics such as “how to plan your science conference schedule”, “a cynic’s guide to academic papers” and even “how to fund your research after #Brexit: a flow diagram”. As the blog’s author Matthew Partridge puts it, the site is about “life as a university researcher [and is] a strange mixture of sarcasm, cynicism and giddy enthusiasm for science”. Partridge is also a skilled cartoonist and illustrator and most posts involve a graphic of some sort. A particularly commendable feature of the site is that it does not suffer from the irregularity that so many other blogs succumb to – it has a new post every week.
Who is behind it?
Partridge, a postdoc at Cranfield University, UK, has been writing Errant Science alone since 2012. Based at Cranfield’s Department of Engineering Photonics, Partridge began blogging when he set up a departmental website (openoptics.info). Looking for a more suitable space to talk about the wider aspects of academia, he created Errant Science. In March a sister blog named Errant Science Clutter was launched as a space for regular guest contributors, run by Michelle Reeve from the Royal Veterinary College, London. “The whole idea is to show that science doesn’t have to be stiff and serious, it can also be self-deprecating.”
What are some of the topics covered?
Pretty much anything that can come up in the life of an academic in the 21st century. There is a definite trend towards “how to” posts that cover everything from writing papers and theses to coding and big data, as well as presenting data and conference talks. Infographics and comics are included in most posts, as are flow diagrams to help you navigate issues such as “what to do when your experiment goes wrong”.
Who is it aimed at?
Absolutely anyone with an interest in academic life – whether you are a student, early-career researcher or established scientist, Errant Science will either help you or make you laugh. For anyone not in science, the blog is a great peephole into the complex and occasionally perplexing world of academia.
Can you give me a sample quote?
From a post published in March titled “How to get any work done while working from home with kids”: “Without colleagues and coffee breaks to distract me I generally found working from home more productive. I’d set myself a list of things to do and be finished by 10:30, leaving me with the moral dilemma: do I work the same number of hours or do the same amount of work?…But that was back when I had a quiet house. Things are different now – I have two noisy children, neither of whom understand the difference between daddy who can play and daddy who’s drafting a paper. Also the surly cat has got a lot more needy in his old age and insists on being anywhere that will either stop me using the keyboard or the mouse, preferably involving sleeping on one or the other.”