Sunday, March 15, 2015

Module 1: The Plague of a Chatterbox

          After working for more hours than I thought possible to put into an assignment, I can officially say that I have completed my first abstract and data summary. Yes, that is right. I have dotted my i's and crossed my t's, and now all that's left is to cross my fingers. Scientific writing is... a challenge to put it simply. I could probably use a string of twenty adjectives here, but as my recent scientific writing adventures have taught me, I should probably refrain. By nature, I am loquacious. I talk loudly, rapidly, and frequently. I can make a story that should last 2 minutes last twenty, and I generally just enjoy exercising my vocal chords. However, up until 20.109, I had always embraced my chattiness in my writing. I write with flowing phrases and clauses, throwing in as much figurative language as possible to truly paint pictures with my words. As Module 1 very quickly taught me, this was a habit I was going to have to kick to the curb or at least send on an all-expenses paid vacation for a couple of months. Scientific writing is about getting to the point. It is about showing clarity of thought and demonstrating data in the most effective way possible. You want your results to speak for you, and if they can't do that, then they probably are not very good results. Everything I wrote over the past month and a half would have about a fifty percent reduction before it was finally appropriate for "publishing."I would have to sadly hit the 'delete' button repeatedly over the sentences and phrases I so desperately loved, I found that the more in depth we got in discussing results, the harder this was for me. Finding the words to truly express your data and results is extremely challenging. You want desperately for your reader to see what you're seeing, but you also have to only say what is explicitly backed up by your results. There is no room for fluff in the scientific world. Science respects facts. Science respects numbers. It does not respect gerundive lists and adjectives that sound like they're out of an SAT prep book.
           However, I am grateful for this newfound skill. As much as I may love my modifiers and phrases, to be concise is a skill that I know will benefit me greatly in the future. It is far easier to talk in circles than to get your brain to efficiently express exactly what it wants to say. Through this assignment, I was forced to truly give my brain a workout, as I found the words to make my points and washed away the other hundred words that tried so desperately to spew out of my fingertips onto the keyboard. Scientific writing is a challenge, a confidence-building, brain-exercising, tiring, exciting, and enriching challenge.

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