Welcome to my, now very definitely, traditional review of the past year.
Enjoying ENTO18 at Edgehill University
Impact and reach
Brigitte Nerlich warns against measuring the impact of science communication but as far as I can tell she is not against reporting the following type of data, although if I was looking for impact these annual review posts would not be the best way to go*.
I have continued to post at about ten-day intervals; this is my 229th post. As I wrote last year, there never seems to any difficulty in coming up with ideas to write about; the problem is more in deciding which one to use and when. As happened last year, some of my blogs have made it, albeit in slightly modified forms, into print (Cherrill & Leather, 2018; Leather, 2018).
For those of you who remain lukewarm about the idea that social media has a place in science, I wold ask you to think again and if you need any more convincing, refer you to a recent paper that very clearly demonstrates the benefits arising from such interactions (Côté & Darling, 2018); evidence that science communication via social media is a very worthwhile use of our time. Semi-related to my Blogging and Tweeting are my other forms of science communication, giving talks and helping at outreach events, such as the Big Bang Fair and EntoSci18. I also had three Skype a Scientist dates this year, one with a school in the USA and two with schools in the UK. I really enjoyed them and hope that the pupils were equally pleased. If you have not come across this scheme, check them out here.
My blog had visitors from 181 countries (165 last year, 174 in 2016 and 150 in 2015), so only another 14 to go to achieve total global domination 😊 My blog received 54 300 views (40 682 last year, 34 036 in 2016; 29 385 in 2015). This year, as last year, most of my readers came from the USA, with views from India moving from 5th to 4th place and Brazil being replaced by South Africa.
My top post (excluding my home page) in 2018 was the same as last year, one of my aphid posts, A Winter’s Tale – Aphid Overwintering, although there may have been some disappointment felt by those who were hoping to find a reference to Shakespeare’s play or the song by Queen. It is now my all-time winner with just over 9000 views, knocking Not All Aphids are Vegans with over 8 000 views into an honourable second place. My top ten posts tend to be either about aphids or entomological techniques/equipment which I guess means that I am filling an entomological niche.
There still seems to be no signs of the number of people viewing my site reaching an asymptote or for that matter, taking off exponentially; just a straightforward linear relationship.
Still no signs of slowing down?
Tweeting for entomology
I still find my interactions on Twitter very rewarding, although this past year I have become somewhat more political; Brexit and Trump, need I say more? Most of my tweets are, however, still entomological and ecological and the increase in political comment has not stopped my followers from growing. I finished 2017 with 5860 followers and begin 2019 with just over a thousand more, 6884. It would have been nice to have hit the 7 000-follower milestone before the end of the year but many thanks to all my readers and especially to those who take the time to comment as well as pressing the like button. My top commenters, as indeed they were last year, were fellow bloggers, Emma Maund, Emily Scott, Jeff Ollerton, Amelia from A French Garden and Philip Strange. I look forward to interacting with you all in 2019.
This past year marked my partial retirement from academia but I hasten to add, not from entomology. I have, as planned, spent more time doing the things I enjoy and finally got some of my book projects off the ground. My co-authors Tilly Collins and Tricia Reader and I spent a week together at our house in France writing a book outline and in December signed a contract with Oxford University Press for our provisionally titled ‘Field Course Handbook’.
Authors at work 😊
I have also submitted an outline for a semi-popular book about insects which I have great hopes will appeal to the Commissioning Editor’s choice of reviewers.
And if anyone is worried that this means that the entomological provision at Harper Adams University will be diminished, rest assured. Not only did we appoint a very talented junior member of faculty, Heather Campbell (@ScienceHeather) we also appointed another talented entomologists (whom I taught some years ago), Simon Segar (@simonsegar); both are proving very popular with the students and staff. I am doing pretty much the same teaching as I have always done, so our entomology provision has actually increased, which is just as well as we have now started an undergraduate degree in entomology, the only one in the UK.
A Happy and Prosperous New Year to you all.
Cherrill, A.J. & Leather, S.R. (2018) Predatory journals a growing threat to scientific integrity? In Practice, 102, 38-40.
*The number of views for my annual reviews are as follows: 2014 (86), 2015 (110), 2016 (179), 2017 (115, of which 112 were in January).