Science for students - Unitech Student

Science for students

Yesterday, I wrote about students using science blogging as a way to develop an on-line portfolio and document their skills. One friend wrote me this morning and asked if my instructions to our students were really as simple as I described.

Well, no.

In fact, it wasn’t easy to persuade my colleagues that we should let students blog. I had to promise them I would scrutinize every post and make sure no one got in trouble. Luckily, our student bloggers are responsible adults. Reading their posts has been a pleasure and there have only a couple of cases where I checked with them to make sure they were abiding by my unspoken rules.

Now, that I’ve been prompted to write the rules down, I’ll share them here. Keep in mind, I’m writing about using your blog as a professional portfolio. My rules may not apply to other kinds of blogs.

Rule 1. Don’t steal. This rule is so important, it has subcategories!

Rule 1a. Intellectual property

When you’re using your blog as a portfolio, or on-line lab notebook, keep your writing focused on your work and your learning experiences. You can write about this material freely because you own it.

If you’re working in a company or in someone’s research lab, your lab work and results belong to your employer. When you work for someone else, those results are someone else’s intellectual property and you have to respect that. There are stories of technicians getting fired for asking Facebook friends for help with protocols when they were working on proprietary technology. Don’t make that mistake.

Rule 1b. Subject matter

Don’t plagiarize. You can quote people or blogs or articles, but include links and references.

Rule 1c. Photos

Use your own photos wherever possible. You can use copyright-free photos, but be aware they’re not yours and depending on your source, the owner can change their mind and their licensing. In a couple of cases, I had used photos from Flickr where the owners changed their license. If you really want to use a photo from someone else, ask their permission.

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