BrainFacts.org Celebrates Its First Anniversary
One year ago, to celebrate the launch of BrainFacts.org, SfN leadership and founding partners the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kavli Foundation gathered at public launch events in Washington, D.C., and London. Today, the new website has made tremendous strides in fulfilling its mission to share what neuroscientists know, explore what they don’t yet know fully, and discuss how today’s research advances understanding.
Through the partnership of SfN and the Gatsby and Kavli Foundations, BrainFacts.org has become a destination for the brain-curious public. By offering unique resources and providing fresh, up-to-date information that encourages visitors to return repeatedly, BrainFacts.org has enjoyed success in its first year. The site also continues to grow, expanding its offerings for people around the globe.
BrainFacts.org – Success!
Evidence over the last 12 months has proven the new website is attracting an average of more than a thousand visitors daily. Guided by a global editorial board of leading scientists, BrainFacts.org enhances visibility of the brain and nervous system to audiences around the world.
To date the site has generated more than 1 million page views, from hundreds of thousands of visitors worldwide. The site has:
- Emerged as an international destination, with nearly 50 percent readership from outside the United States. Top countries include the United Kingdom, Canada, the Philippines, Australia, and India, in addition to the United States. Outside the United States, London was the greatest local source of traffic. When the number of visits per country is normalized by those countries’ populations, Norway is a top traffic source, with almost 2.5 more per capita visits than the United States.
- Featured more than 50 articles from content partners and published more than 50 new pieces of original SfN content.
- Added more than 25 resources to the educator section.
- Created an active social media community with more than 6,000 followers on Twitter and nearly as many likes on Facebook.
- Welcomed the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and TED as partners, with more to come.
Early evaluation of the site’s popularity indicates that visitors access information about basic science as often as translational content. The site provides extensive news about research discoveries, as well as articles about brain function and disease. Neuroanatomy pages are among the most visited.
“We are pleased that many of the site’s visitors are interested in how the brain and nervous system work at a basic level,” said Nick Spitzer, editor-in-chief of BrainFacts.org and professor, vice chair of neurobiology at the University of California, San Diego, and director of the UCSD Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind. “One of the goals of BrainFacts.org is to share the excitement of fundamental scientific discovery and educate about the scientific process. Preliminary analytics show that the site is successfully engaging people at that level.”
Raising Public Awareness Around Brain Science
“The website launched at an exciting time for neuroscience,” Spitzer said. “Dialogue about the brain and brain health, as well as new discoveries about the brain, are engaging people around the world. Visitors toBrainFacts.org can learn the latest news about neuroscience, get background about specific issues, and even engage in an online discussion, all through this website. It’s an exciting endeavor to be part of.”
Visitor feedback on social media illustrates the energy and excitement about the site. On Twitter, one message read, “Just found a great website @Brain_Facts_org very interesting #brain#neuroscience.” Another follower wrote, “Really enjoyed #brainawarenessweek, great posts from @wellcometrust @NeuroscienceIRL @Brain_Facts_org the brain getting coverage it deserves.” On Facebook, according to the site’s analytics, BrainFacts.org content reaches an average of 10,000 viewers each week, mainly due to users sharing articles posted on the site.
New Website Features
In December, BrainFacts.org launched a blog to enable greater engagement with the public, as well as bring additional perspectives to provide commentary on the latest research findings in the field. Positive Twitter messages from notable science writers and researchers, along with retweets from science journalists and outlets, all helped to welcome the blog to the online science community. “New blog sponsored by #SfN! looks off to a good start!” tweeted Scicurious.
In addition, an online promotional campaign expanded the blog’s international reach, making China the number one source of traffic. SfN members who are blog contributors have engaged with the public in a timely, informal way that provides opportunities for learning, dialogue, and discussion. Initial success in reaching public audiences has encouraged the BrainFacts.org editorial board to explore additional blog possibilities.
Visitors to the site are also able to create a free account to sign up for personalized messages called e-alerts, which provide subscribers monthly emails with the most current BrainFacts.org content. In recent months, nearly 250 science educators signed up to receive these updates.
Plans for Next Year and Beyond
SfN’s partnership with The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kavli Foundation has allowed BrainFacts.org to reach success in its first year. Along with SfN’s volunteer leadership, these organizations have shown dedication to the advancement of science and technology worldwide by providing guidance and sharing content. Future plans for the site include continuing to enhance the site’s breadth of coverage across the field by partnering with additional content providers to raise the visibility of brain science and health.
A public information initiative of The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, The Kavli Foundation, and the Society for Neuroscience, BrainFacts.org is a resource for the general public, policymakers, educators, and students of all ages.