Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fun with module one!

        "Fun" might not be the most accurate description of writing the data summary for module 1. I just noticed that it rhymed in the title, so why not use it. Although working for a whole week straight without much sleep was not the most enjoyable thing in the world, it did teach me a lot of interesting things about writing scientific reports. I have written research reports before, but the longest one I ever wrote was with a partner for a science competition. This was the longest individual report I have ever written, and it taught me some very valuable lessons that I will try to follow from now on.

Lesson 1: Organize your data!
        If I had a nickel for every time I had to flip through several different papers to find the data I needed, then I probably could have had enough money to bribe someone to write my report (but I obviously wouldn't do that because I am an honest student). My point is, don't just shove your data somewhere and forget where you put it. You could save SO much time if you didn't...seriously. Organization is key, and I definitely overlooked that a bit until I got started crafting my results section.

Lesson 2: You cannot just "write" a research report. You have to develop it.
       Writing a good research report doesn't just involve having all the data and describing it. It requires making the results flow so that it makes sense to the readers. My strategy going into the paper was to first put all the data down and describe the data. After doing that, I realized that I made a huge mistake.

Not only was my data out of order in certain places, the paper just made no sense when reading it out loud. As the person who wrote the report, I couldn't even understand what I was trying to explain. This lead to many stressful nights, as I had to go through all the data and organize it so that it "flowed". Pro tip for future Mike Chen: make sure you know how and where you want to place your data before actually doing it. It will save time and effort.

Lesson 3: And that hardest part about the data summary was.....Being confident with your writing!
       As I started the paper, I did not even think that the most difficult part for me would have been just trusting my writing ability. Because the paper was worth 15% of my grade and I only had one chance to turn it in, it definitely was a little nerve-wracking to write the data summary. I second guessed myself way too much, and that cost me the most amount of time compared to any other setback I had. I was afraid of writing something that was incorrect or interpreting data in the wrong way. I think the better alternative would have been to outline the paper first before writing it. That would have taken away a lot of the second guessing that I did because it is easier to organize my thoughts in an outline first, so I would have been more confident when I actually wrote the paper.

Finally, with Module 1 complete, I can maybe relax for a day or two; get my head straight again. I am very excited to learn more in module 2 and to apply the lessons I learned in module 1.

Until next time, peace

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