Thursday, November 13, 2014

Moving up in the (module report writing) world

The process of writing the module two report was as different from the first round as possible – in a good way! While I did not go into it expecting a great experience, given that many of the results we were looking for in this module did not materialize, I found myself really enjoying compiling the report. I think the main difference between this report and the last was that I spent a lot of time mapping out the different components of the experiment. Whereas last time, I pretty haphazardly started creating figures and writing paragraphs, I forced myself to walk through each day of this module to make sure I knew why each step was important. Ironically, it was the fact that we had to modify some of experiments and that certain aspects of the original protocol were changed that prompted me to take this approach. I also had to closely look at the results and make sure I knew exactly what was going on, since they didn’t turn out as we expected. During module 1, I actually had a pretty good handle on theory behind each of the steps taken given the cloning I had done previously, and that, combined with the results turning out as desired, made me overconfident as to how easily I’d be able to write the report.
In addition to getting off on a better foot in writing this report, I benefited from the various resources we were provided with. Presentations by the WRAP faculty were very helpful in determining what to include in each section, and the degree of conclusions to be drawn in each. For example, I caught myself writing out conclusions in my figure captions, as opposed to reserving that material for the results text. Shannon’s lecture helped a lot on the statistics used to analyze the data. I used the feedback on the module one report, as well as the FNW figure 1 and materials and methods section drafts to pare down my writing to the essential information. The feedback we’ve received overall in 109 has definitely helped me focus my scientific writing and make it more efficient. I found it really helpful to read the background literature on the EnvZ-OmpR two-component system to supplement the material presented in lecture and pre-lab, if only to get familiar with the terminology used to describe the system.

Now that I know what works when writing a report, I look forward to applying that knowledge to any Module 3 write-ups we put together, and scientific writing beyond this class. 

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