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Context and Variation

Context and Variation


Human behavior, evolutionary medicine… and ladybusiness.
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Striking out on my own

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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This post is many months in coming, yet I know I will not be able to give it the kind of attention I would like.

I am leaving Scientific American.  There is no mystery to the reasons. SciAm hasn’t felt like the kind of space I’ve wanted to be a part of for quite some time, despite the continuing presence of several great writers and staff members. The backforum, which was at first raucous and fun, grew ever more quiet as our requests for better writing conditions (around the commenting system, transparency in decision-making, and more) languished.

I will say, though, that problems on this network and with Nature Publishing Group more generally are only part of my motivation to leave. I cannot keep up with four posts a month, particularly not at such low pay. I am starting to feel like I am contributing to an exploitative science writing environment to continue under these conditions – as I’m privileged enough to have a good full time job that pays my bills, I’m aware that also makes it easier for me to make this decision. Further, my tenure review committee is only mildly pleased – and mostly perplexed – with the writing time I have devoted to blogging over the years.

In the next year, as I prepare to go up for tenure, I need to spend the majority of my writing time doing academic writing. I don’t like having to say this, because I believe science writing for a broad audience to have great value. Unfortunately, in my job, while its value is growing it is still low. I can point to the speaking engagements and three publications that have arisen from blogging and absolutely would not have happened otherwise. And there are more of both on the horizon because I write online. But the reality is that when you allocate time towards blogging, you necessarily allocate away from academic publishing. Unless you have a Time Turner, which I don’t.

So from now on, you can find me at www.kateclancy.com – all my archived blog posts from both Context and Variation blogs can be found there. You can still also find me on Twitter at @KateClancy, and on Facebook’s Context and Variation page. Look for a resurgence in my writing within a year, after I feel I have satisfied my tenure committee!

I will certainly blog in my new home, and with more frequency than you’ve seen me at SciAm for the last few months. However, my plan is to pitch the sorts of things I would have written as in-depth blog posts (such as explainers and those that take on current events or new scholarly papers) as actual science writing pieces to real news outlets. That way my science writing pieces aren’t written for free and messing up the balance of the science writing ecosystem, I am compensated for my time and effort, and I reach the appropriate audience.

See you at my new digs. I’m excited to make new memories and build a new audience there!

Kate Clancy About the Author: Dr. Kate Clancy is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She studies the evolutionary medicine of women’s reproductive physiology, and blogs about her field, the evolution of human behavior and issues for women in science. Find her comment policy here. Follow on Twitter @KateClancy.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.



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