Two questions I get asked now and then are A. "What do you study?" And B. "What is it good for? (as in "Why should my tax money fund you?"). Now that I have an excellent platform like this SciAm blog, I might as well take advantage of it to answer at least the first question (I'll let you decide if it's worth the taxpayer's money).

I study Information or Library Science, and my sub-field is what used to be called Bibliometrics, “the application of mathematical and statistical methods to books and other media of communication,” (Pritchard, 1969). The term was invented back in 69', when official scientific communication involved dead trees. The Russian version, "Scientometrics" was coined around that time as well. Today we have a variety of other terms, perhaps more appropriate for the net age: Cybermetrics, Informetrics, Webometrics and even Altmetrics. But for now, let's stick with Bibliometrics.

Bibliometricians measure, analyze and record scientific discourse. We want to learn what impact scientific articles, journals, and even individual scientists have on the world. Until recently “the world” meant “other articles, journals and individual scientists” because it was next to impossible to research the way scientific discourse affect the rest of the world, or even how scientists affect it when they’re not in “official” capacity (publishing a paper or speaking at a conference). Now Bibliometricians not only need a new name, but new indices. That's what I (and plenty of other people) work on. We ask what scientists are doing on the Web, how and why they're doing it and the most important thing – can we use it to evaluate the impact of their work.

In particular, I currently study Researchblogging.Org's science blogs, because I find the notion of using a formal mechanism like the citation in an informal surrounding like the blogosphere fascinating. It's a new and exciting way of using citations. Who knows, perhaps the bloggers actually read everything they cite!

As for my background, I actually have a degree in Life Science, but after an unfortunate incident involving my lab coat and open fire, and less than stellar success in actual lab work, I've decided a BSc in Biology is quite enough. I switched to Information Science for my MA and I'm now working on my PhD. While I can't say I never looked back, I'm as happy as one could be with my profession.

I started blogging in 2010, mostly because I was working on a literature review about science blogs, and almost all of the articles I've read advocated blogging in one way or another. The blog wasn't supposed to be something special – sort of a notebook to keep track of what I've been reading so far. But it turned out to be fun, and people were actually reading what I wrote. I kept reading and blogging, and here I am now. I hope you'll enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

Reference

Pritchard, A. (1969). Statistical bibliography or bibliometrics?, Journal of Documentation, 25, 348–349.