Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mod 1: How does one blog?

I've never quite done anything like blogging; I expect it shouldn't be immensely difficult since it is based on a stream-of-consciousness approach. Honestly though, if I were to truly do this blog in a stream-of-consciousness style, no one would be able to keep up with the wild tangents. I basically have the attention span of a puppy, but I guess I make do with it...
Now to what I am supposed to be writing about, the majestic Module 1 report. And, what do ya know, it wasn't even too bad after all. I would absolutely call it a reasonable assignment and I think we all can admit to gaining from it.  It really came down to conquering the initial road block and just starting to write things down, start to process the data, and get some thoughts going on the consequences of the study. I just had to make it past initially looking at that phylogenic tree, gel electrophoresis figure, schematic, and Unifrac data to really identify what these figures were accomplishing. Sidenote, one of the highlights of this module was Leslie mentioning that Unifrac kind of sounds like a bad word, and, to be honest, it deserved that connotation because I think inputting the data to those specifications might have been the most difficult part sometimes. I can recall an especially fantastic Friday afternoon in lab where Sonia (go Pink Team) and I spent way too much time going over every ID file and every data input to make sure Unifrac was happy with us and would finally show us the figures.
Anyway, I think another difficulty arose from making sense of such a small sample size in the analysis part. It was evident that there was some overlap in the microbiome, but it could have easily been a result of the locations being very close to each other and the minimal samples used. As others have noted, I sometimes felt like I was really pulling some conclusions out of basically nothing.
Overall, I think I have taken a step towards becoming a better scientific writer. I realize sometimes you have to cut the fluff and realize what is most important to tell the reader of the report. This is easy said than done because I've always been a fluffy writer. I know that I have a lot of work to do to really understand all the nuances of scientific writing, but assignments like these help push me in the right direction. Scientific writing is essential and I hope that with each module, I keep improving. Bring on Module 2!

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