Total Internal Reflection is a science blog, but one whose primary focus is not on research. Rather, TIR focuses on the human side of science. The goal of science is to obtain an objective description of the natural world, but the practice of science is carried out by all-too-fallible human beings. Consequently, while science continues to add to the sum total of human knowledge, there are many aspects of the scientific process that are suboptimal – and maybe even detrimental to the overall rate of progress.
TIR is dedicated to examining and discussing these issues – sometimes seriously, sometimes whimsically, and sometimes just by being silly. The mandate is summarised in the name:
Total – all topics relating to the scientific process are open to discussion.
Internal – TIR is written by a scientist (see “About Me“), so the perspective is from within the scientific community.
Reflection – what the purpose of the postings is. To reflect on issues, stimulate discussion, and campaign for change.
Some example topics are:
- How can we achieve better gender equality in the research environment?
- Are publication metrics a good thing?
- How can we assess the value of a scientist’s work?
- Are we training too many PhDs? Are we losing too many postdocs?
- How should research funds be disbursed?
- How big a problem is reproducibility? When is retraction appropriate?
…and much more.
There are seven categories of posting, and we try to post to each category at roughly equal frequency.
- Funding (dealing with money, its sources, its distribution, and its scarcity)
- Gender equality, Family life (dealing with gender equality and parenting issues)
- How to… (tips for scientists on how to improve their soft skills)
- Life at the bench (dealing with everyday issues confronting bench scientists)
- Mentoring, teaching (dealing with mentoring of young scientists, teaching of undergraduates)
- Publishing (dealing with the dissemination of scientific information)
- The World of Science (dealing with science from a global/philosophical perspective)
And yes, it is a pretentious name! (If you’re curious as to what total internal reflection actually is, see “The Name“)
(Please note that all opinions expressed here are the author’s alone)