Remember before science was your job? Chances are, you were a science-lover who read up on and was curious about all different types of science. I certainly used to be excited about all things science, from neuroscience to botany to astrophysics. However, the day science became my job I stopped reading about anything that wasn’t related to my own research. With time, I started to realize that keeping up with the science I don’t need to know about is actually really important in order to keep my passion for science alive! Keeping track of research that isn’t strictly within your field can be quite challenging, especially if you are busy with your graduate or postdoctoral work and you are physically and mentally drained from focusing on your own brand of science. Here are a few tips to keep up to date.
Social media can be your friend
No matter what your life looks like, it’s more than likely that you engage with some type of social media. While most science news on social media is superficial and presented in a basic, layman’s way, following a “science news” outlet on social media can be a great way to keep up to date without engaging your brain when it’s too tired to function properly. Interested in astronomy? Keep tabs with Hubble on Instagram! I used to be a big-time zoology dork and I love the Cambridge University Department of Zoology social media presence for all sorts of exciting links to the latest developments in the field.
Subscribe to a popular science magazine
If pop-science posts are too fluffy for you, become a member of the public again and subscribe to a popular science magazine. While these articles won’t get into quite as much detail as the peer-reviewed articles you are used to, they will explain things in an accessible way that won’t make your brain cells hurt. New Scientist is always a classic choice, as well as some free online outlets like scienceblog.com or scienceseeker.com.
Get more out of your TV time
If you’re a human being on planet Earth in the year 2018, chances are you watch TV. While of course Netflix time is sacred and must not be interfered with, taking the time to watch an interesting documentary every now and again can really broaden your horizons. Of course, if you are interested in zoology, ecology, or botany, Planet Earth is an obvious choice, but keep in mind there are a lot of interesting science things to watch out there (and most of them are free!), from physics, to astronomy to the psychology of animal behavior. Another great way to keep up to date with science is listening to podcasts on your way to work or as you’re working in the lab! There are truly amazing science podcasts that cover a huge variety of topics in an entertaining yet, informational way.
Don’t expect scientific rigor from popular science
As a scientist, you are used to applying the highest level of scientific rigor in your work. Of course, this is true for scientists in any field, but if you follow certain disciplines solely through popular science outlets, you are most likely not going to get an insight into the nitty-gritty of their work. How do their controls work? Is their work truly novel? You can always dig deeper and find the relevant primary literature (and you can probably access it through your university’s server), but of course, this is not feasible if you like to keep up to date with a wide variety of topics you are not an expert in. Most of the time, you need to accept the fact that you cannot dig deep into every aspect of other fields—otherwise, you are going to have no time for your actual work! Of course, while demanding scientific rigor from a podcast is perhaps unrealistic, you should use your science know-how to make sure you only follow legitimate social media outlets and websites. Not only will this keep fake science out of your way, but it will make you a good example for your non-science friends!
It’s OK for things to be fun!
It can be hard for scientists to accept that light, pop-science content can be both informative and fun. As scientists, we want details and sort of expect science to feel like work. Remember, while some science is your work, it doesn’t mean all science has to be!
No matter what you do for a living, keeping up to date with science is a great way to exercise your brain, learn new things, and expand your horizons. What’s more, it can be incredibly fun! Being a scientist doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the great things about being interested in science recreationally. No matter what you do to keep in touch with fields of science other than the one you work in, just enjoy yourself and try to learn something new every day!
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the views of the author(s) and do not represent the official policy or position of ASCB.
About the Author:
Gaia obtained her PhD from King's College, London working on melanoma cell plasticity and how it affects metastasis and patient survival. She has since moved to the United States, where she is currently a lecturing fellow at Duke University. Her work focuses on understanding how breast cancer metastasizes to the bone and manipulates the tumor micro-environment. She loves writing about science and communicating her passion for all things biology. You can find more of her writing here: https://time4science.wordpress.com/