Friday, 25 June 2010

Bloggers behind the blogs: Petra Boynton

This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with some of the world's leading psychology and neuroscience bloggers.

Next up, Petra Boynton of Dr Petra.

How did you become a psychology blogger?

Initially because I was doing a lot of work with mainstream media and was concerned over how they frequently misreported sex/relationships issues and I wanted a space to correct this and be able to write about all the things I thought the media were missing.

What's your blog's mission?

To share independent, evidenced and linked information about sex and relationships health with a Social Psychological slant. It's a combination of education, entertainment, critical appraisal and activism. Sometimes it serves as therapy for me as a place to shout about things that frustrate (or inspire) me.

Are you also on Twitter - if so, how do the two outlets complement each other?

Yes am @drpetra on twitter. I feel twitter is more immediate, great for sharing resources, networking with practitioners/colleagues, and for activism. Particularly challenging the mainstream media as a few of us recently did when Danny Dyer/Zoo magazine printed 'advice' suggesting a ditched boyfriend should cut his girlfriend's face as revenge. That led to Dyer's column being pulled and the magazine censured. Because I can now alert people to good/bad practice plus resources quickly via twitter the blog has now become a place to investigate issues or unpack/discuss academic papers/reports in depth.

How does your blogging affect your day job?

My day job as an academic (lecturing in International Health and specialising in research on sex and relationships) and sex educator (teaching health and social care staff, teachers and parents) undoubtedly inform my blogging. However I've traditionally kept blogging separate
from work and had it as a 'spare time' activity. That's something I'd like to see change as blogging, to me, is an extension of my academic/researcher/educator role.

What advice do you have for any budding psychology bloggers out there?

Read around blogs, you'll notice what comes under 'psychology' is very broad, styles vary as do the way bloggers tackle issues. Some use their blogs to talk through their research journey, others to focus on unpacking or sharing evidence, still more to reflect/discuss on their practice. It's important to abide by ethical standards, and have a sense of who you are
writing for. Don't feel you have to be too fixed though, the beauty of blogs is how they evolve and when they work well are a collaborative effort with you and your readers.

What blogs do you read (list up to five)?

I spend far too much time reading blogs, there are loads of great ones out there, but the ones I read most regularly are: www.mindhacks.com - Vaughan Bell's fantastic neurology/psychology blog; Neuroskeptic - critical appraisals from a neuroscientist; Matt's Random Selection - Matthew Greenall writes about health/development issues; About.com:sexuality - Cory Silverberg's education, analysis and awareness of sexual health issues; and Ed Yong's Not exactly rocket science.

And finally, what blog post of yours are you most proud of and why?

In five years of blogging there've been several posts on exposing poor practice in media, bad surveys, dodgy resarch, and unethical practice in psychology I've been privileged to write. But the one I feel is currently most important is focusing on the medicalisation of female sexual functioning.

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