Most people that write on the Node are not experienced bloggers, and writing your first post may be a bit daunting. Whether you are a regular contributor, or considering your first Node post, below are a few tips to get you started.
What should I write about?
The Node is a blog for developmental biologists and those in related fields. That means you can write about anything of relevance to scientists in general and developmental biologists in particular – research papers that you have read, or your own research, a resource that you have heard about or developed, an issue that you care about. If this is your first time blogging, why not write about something that you are passionate and care about- it is always easier to write about something that you are familiar with. If you would like some suggestions, you can also sign up to our writers list to receive occasional emails providing ideas. And remember – you don’t need to ask for permission to write on the Node – you can just publish your post as soon as it is ready!
What style should a Node post follow?
As with anything you write, the most important consideration is your audience. The Node is read primarily by biologists or those with a scientific background, so you should aim for a scientific, but non-specialist, style – i.e. you don’t need to explain what DNA is, but you might have to give a little background to what FGF does, for those not working in that field. But should the style be serious or relaxed? The Node is not a journal and is your community blog – so your writing doesn’t have to read like a paper, and you can show your personality by being more personal. Read previous posts on the Node and in other blogs, and find a style that you like and feel comfortable with.
How long should my post be?
There are no restrictions on length, but your audience will mainly be other scientists, reading the Node between breaks in their experiments or during their lunch time. If in doubt, keep it shorter than 1,000 words. It is also useful to divide the post into sections, or make good use of paragraphs – this breaks up the text and makes it easier to read.
Should I include images and/or videos?
Definitely! Images and videos have many advantages – they break the text into more digestible chunks, can be used to illustrate something you are explaining (an image can replace a thousand words!), and will attract people to read your post. You can read our Help page for detailed instructions on how to include images and videos in your post.
Because of copyright laws, you should only add an image to a post if you have permission to include it, or if it is freely available (such as from Wikimedia commons or many of the items in the Wellcome Trust image collection). You are permitted to embed movies from YouTube and Vimeo as long as these don’t infringe any copyright themselves. If you are unsure about inserting an image of video, you can contact the Node Community Manager who will be able to help.
What links should I include in my post?
The internet is all about establishing connections. Add links to the papers that you reference, relevant resources, lab websites, your personal blog, etc. See our Help page for instructions on how to add links when blogging on the Node
Writing about unpublished data
Only write about your own unpublished data if you are happy to reveal it to potentially anyone in the community (this includes your competitors!). If the unpublished data is not yours (for example if you heard it in a talk) only write about it if you have express permission from the authors of the work. Also read our tips on writing from conferences.
Re-read your post
This may sound obvious, but re-reading your post before publishing it is very useful. It will help you to notice any spelling errors or other problems.
Tell people about what you have written
After you have written your post you will want other people to read it – and that is also the best way to get feedback. Tell your colleagues and friends about it! We will also advertise your post on Twitter and Facebook, so let the Node Community Manager know if you have a Twitter handle that you would like us to include in the tweet.
I’m not a native speaker of English
This is not a problem! The Node is a blog, so it doesn’t have to be as strict and formal as a paper, and it is okay to make mistakes. Also think about including images or videos – they may easily demonstrate a concept that you are struggling to explain. You can also contact the Node Community Manager, who will be very happy to read through your article and advise you!
We hope that these tips will help you get started! If you have any questions visit our Help page or contact the Node Community Manager!