Thursday, December 11, 2014

The BE Fellows as a Writing Resource

During the course of the term, I primarily met with Diana Chien, one of the BE research writing fellows. I met with her usually for the sake of revision rather than brainstorming, showing her a draft piece of writing and having her provide input. I was impressed by the power of the BE Writing Office and the fellows as a resource for writing. I was initially somewhat skeptical; however, the BE writing fellows were constantly prepared. Since they were all pursuing Ph.D.s or had Ph.D.s, they were very quickly able to understand the technical nature of the word and provide meaningful feedback.
Our meetings generally had three main parts. First, I would write down the “key points” I was trying to convey in a section while Diana read them and took notes. Then, Diana would provide any feedback she had. Finally, we would jointly create a plan to improve the paper. This three step approach was very helpful, and was a powerful way to brainstorm individually and then come together to discuss and synthesize feedback. In addition, having to write down the one or two “key points” of an entire section forced me to clarify my thinking and make the “important points” of my writing more visible.

Overall, the BE Writing office provided a strong resource. The only time they provided a small source of confusion was when their advice was inconsistent with the vision of the 20.109 staff. For example during M2, I was advised to broaden the scope of my project from “optimizing the photography system” to “a framework for optimizing synthetic 2CS systems.” While the second framework made stronger claims, it was beyond the scope of the work we had conducted in the module. After talking with the 20.109 staff, however, the “more correct” scope to utilize was made clear. 

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