Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meeting with a BE Writing Fellow

This year, I visited the MIT BE Communication Lab twice. The first time, I met with writing fellow Georgia Lagoudas to ask her advice on how to revise my resume for the Fall career fair. I was having trouble condensing my bullet points to convey only the most important information. (From afar, the paper looked quite like a solid block of text covering the whole page…) When we worked through my resume, Georgia would have me tell her the experience that I was trying to describe in as few sentences as possible. This exercise was useful in that it helped me realize what information was necessary and what was simply superfluous. Originally, I had thought that my points were already as succinct as possible; but surprisingly, Georgia showed me how much more it could still be reduced, not only for ease of readability, but also to help guide the reader in the direction that I wanted.

The second time I visited the writing lab, I requested to meet with Georgia again. This time, I was working on the outline for the introduction of the Module 2 research article. Once again, she had me orally relay the experiment that I was conducting to her. Doing this allowed me to recognize what the reader needed to know immediately in the introduction section to understand and follow my research. In terms of stylistic quality of the writing, she suggested that I look at how other currently published research papers formatted their introductions. I was so hyper-focused on my own piece of writing that it had escaped me to utilize other writing as a model and example for my own. To get out of a writing block, it can be a good idea to look to the pros for inspiration.

Scientific writing is still a relatively new art to me, so seeking help was a smart move. It was encouraging to hear advice that was thoughtful, relevant, and applicable to my future work. I appreciated that, rather than simply feeding answers, Georgia actively worked with me to come up with the solutions together. This way, I will have the awareness and tools for how to make the same edits for my other writing. I’m unfamiliar with the other majors at MIT, but the BE writing lab is truly a hidden gem for Course 20.

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