NextGenForensic is one year old!
In fact, NextGenForensic was conceived two-and-a-half years back on September 6th, 2012, when Ian McPhail fired out an email to seven early-career-types with the idea of a ‘multi-author blog’. That email began, “Hello dear friends and colleagues, I have a modest proposal for you all.” Modest as the proposal may have been, it was an inviting and exciting one. However, it wasn’t until February 20, 2014, that NextGenForensic was born. On that day, the two Ians (McPhail and Elliott) finally accepted parental responsibility, gave ourselves fancy grandiose titles, and recruited Caoilte, Kelly, and Ross. Along the way, we also acquired our link to the student world, Danielle.
The 12 months that followed NextGenForensic’s genesis have been amazing. The blog has published 30 substantive posts on a variety of topics and issues in the field of sexual violence. We have had over 6,300 unique visitors to the blog in that time and over 15,000 page views. Looking at the map below, of the many nations in which those visitors reside, it ain’t swagger to suggest that we have been seriously international in scope.
The vital impulse of NextGenForensic is to foster new, exciting ideas and communicate these ideas to a public audience. Some of the most exciting and important parts of science and therapeutic development happen in private, or restricted, spaces. Taking newly minted ideas, experiences, and current developments and translating these into a comprehensible form for wider consumption and debate, this is what we strive for because it is a noble ideal for academics, scientists, and clinicians. The first year of NextGenForensic’s existence has hopefully achieved this ideal to some degree. We look forward to the next year and making further strides to more inclusive science communication in the field of sexual violence prevention.
Nonetheless, the learning curve has been steep and we appreciate that we have, at times, made mistakes that have had consequences far beyond our expectations. We have embraced the education those experiences have provided.We also still have ambitions to make the blog more collaborative and public than it is currently – and for that we need to be more accessible and appealing to you, the audience!
However, it’s important to celebrate this important milestone and to show our appreciation for the hard work and effort that has gone into this project.
On behalf of all of the Editors, we sincerely thank everyone who contributed pieces to NextGenForensic 2014-2015: Alexandra Bailey, Nick Devin, Ethan Edwards, Craig Harper, Chantal Hermann, Lesleigh Pullman, Michael Seto, and Tony Ward. We are truly grateful for your contributions.
Thank you also to all of our readers – without you we’d just be data in the cloud! We hope that you have found the resource practical and engaging and, as always, we encourage you to submit your thoughts and musings!
The Ians would also like to specifically thank to our fellow Editors, whose effort, encouragement, enthusiasm, and energy (and willingness to work gratis!) has been and continues to be extraordinary. Our output has not been the only source of learning at NextGenForensic; the range of perspectives and thoughfulness of our own little conversations has (hopefully) been valuable for each of us. We thank you all.
We asked some of our editors what they made of the first year:
Kelly replied, “In our first year, we have published 30 posts and created an actual readership! In addition to taking pride with NextGenForensic’ success, I have also learnt a lot from serving as an associate editor. As academics, most of our writing is targeted to fellow academics and, most typically, is in the form of a journal article. Writing blogs allows us to publish our thoughts quickly and to a wider audience, helps us improve our synthesis skills (what is the main take home message?), and allows us to sharpen a different writing style that can be counterintuitive but is an essential skill (removing academic jargon and unnecessarily complicated language to allow for a wider breath of readership). It is also a new reality that academics are online, likely given the many benefits of blogging and engaging in social media, so join in the fun if you haven’t already!”
Caoilte said he learned 4 things:
1. Blogging and academic writing are very different. All of us, editors and contributors, have struggled with the transition from the rigidity of writing for journals to the freedom and challenges of expressing science for a wider audience. I still haven’t mastered it as you can see. “Expressing science” is a terrible phrase – it’s as if the blog was some kind of science-teat feeding the internet community with knowledge milk.
2. Blogging about sexual offending did not embroil us in constant battles with people disagreeing with the stance(s) taken by our contributors on issues such as treatment for sex offenders, or incest, or on whether virtuous pedophiles exist. I genuinely thought we would face more wars in the comments sections. Perhaps this will come next year as our readership continues to increase.
3. A blog post of 1000 words can give me a serious case of writer’s block. I can find myself asking myself “is it interesting for a general audience”, “will anyone read it?”, “are my points scientifically informed, or rambling musings?”. I’m therefore extremely grateful to all our contributors as I appreciate that the brevity of their offerings often belies the depth of thought that generated them.
4. The internet loves lists. Michael Seto’s eight habits for highly effective researchers was one of our most viewed posts. Perhaps the internet just loves Michael Seto. A cursory glance at Buzzfeed informs me that they are also fond of lists.
In summary, it’s all been worth it. Expect us to be haunting office doors and badgering people at conferences to contribute. We appear to have an interested (and interesting) audience – hopefully we can make this a much more collaborative place to visit!
So, happy birthday NexGenForensic! Many happy returns of the day!
Now, where’s the jelly and ice cream…?
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