Citation Needed – without it you have opinion not facts

Heckle every speech like this 🙂 Courtesy of XKCD

Throughout my academic career one thing that was repeatedly enforced was that if you were claiming something to be true in a paper, you needed to show results to prove it or cite a credible source that had those results.  It took a lot of effort in those pre-Google Scholar and pre-Arxiv days1.  Reading the journals, being aware of retractions and clarifications and building the evidence to support your own work took time2.  Writing up my thesis was painful solely because of finding the right references for things that were “known”.  I had several excellent reviewers who sent me back copies of my thesis with “citation needed” where I’d stated things as facts without a reference.  My tutor at Oxford was very clear on this: without a citation, it’s your opinion not a fact. Continue reading Citation Needed – without it you have opinion not facts

Creative writing – harder than it looks

Procrastination while writing is easy… Cartoon by Cathy Thorne.

As a child I wrote a lot of stories.  I think my English teachers were disappointed that I chose a Science route rather than literature.  However, just like art, creative writing is something I’ve continued to pursue throughout my technical career (when I’ve felt creative enough!).  I wrote a novel during my PhD that I’ve not yet revisited to see if it’s worth publishing1 and have always jumped at opportunities to write articles and blog posts about the things that interest me.  However, I have had one idea for a book bubbling in my mind for the last twenty years and I have never really had the time to focus on it properly. Continue reading Creative writing – harder than it looks

Writing for other websites

Some of the websites that have published my postsTowards the end of 2016, I didn’t post as much content as I usually like to on here.  While there are all the usual excuses of free time, the main reason was that a lot of the ideas I had were being written for other websites.  So here’s a collection of my posts from the last few months of last year that didn’t make it on here. Continue reading Writing for other websites