Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Multiple Support Beams for Effective Scientific Writing

As a full research article, the module 2 major writing project introduced a series of additional challenges to the scientific writing process. As an article, we were expected to interpret our results in the context of the scientific literature, present the broader significance of our work, and find a unifying story for the experiments. The WRAP presentations, BE Communications Lab, and Agi’s Office Hours helped with different aspects of these challenges.

As an overview of a scientific paper, the WRAP presentation provided critical guidance in how to structure a scientific article. Specifically, it helped me understand where to put specific information about the module as well as how to surround that information to maximize its effectiveness. The most helpful portions of the WRAP presentation were the sample scientific articles which were dissected to show the structure. Understanding such structure greatly illuminated my understanding of scientific writing.

In understanding the unifying story for the experiments, Agi’s Office Hours (including questions I asked in class) were tremendously helpful. Beyond asking guiding questions to help me understand the data, Agi helped me understand the overall story of the module and the unifying thread between experiments. For this module, framing the results was particularly difficult since we were not actually able to optimize the contrast present in the bacterial photography system.

Finally once a full draft of the paper was compiled, the BE Communications lab (specifically Diana Chien) helped me revise the overall focus of the paper and make sure that each section fit in logically with the others. Diana helped me restructure my introduction to fit the actual experimental questions answered by our work, and was thus a tremendously valuable resource in ensuring unity within the overall article.

Overall, the WRAP presentations, BE Communications Lab, and Agi’s Office Hours were all valuable in drafting the module 2 article, especially at different stages of development and I thus plan on continuing to use all three. As an early stage resources, the WRAP presentations helped me understand the theory behind the structure of a good scientific paper. Agi’s Office Hours helped me interpret data and create a unifying story. And the BE Writing Lab helped me polish and tighten the story for maximum effectiveness. I felt significantly more confident writing the Module 2 article and could see how quickly 20.109 is improving my capacity for scientific communication. 

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