Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Summary of Abstract and Data Summary

I will now write a lovely summary of my experience writing the abstract and data summary for Module 1. :)

So...the week leading up to the due date of the Abstract and Data Summary was one of my busiest weeks with school work, UROP tasks, and life in general. On the Friday before the due date I had class straight from 9:30-5 and then I UROP-ed (I don't know if that is a word but whatever) from 5-7:30 plating more cells, yippee. I took a necessary mental health recovery break at Chipotle, and then prepared myself to start the abstract and data summary. I knew it would be a long weekend of writing.

Around 9pm on Friday with my lovely lab partner, we planned out a timeline for finishing our assignment and we began organizing data. I had grand plans of staying up until the majority of my report was done, but my eyelids refused to stay open and I succumbed to my tiredness. The next morning, I woke up and Joseph and I met to complete the UniFrac Analysis. Within a few hours we were done, and then we separately began writing. I spent a long time, probably too much of my time on Saturday just doing the Abstract. I am a writer who edits as she writes, so I have trouble writing a "first draft" because I want to make everything sound good before I move on. On Saturday I also edited the past assignments, began my introduction and thought about the overall structure of the assignment. I wasn't the most productive in terms of actual writing; however, I felt alright spending some time planning and organizing my thoughts.

Sunday, referred to by some as a "day of rest," involved no rest for me :(. With the due date looming around the corner, I knew I had to pick up my pace. So, I worked for most of the day, taking breaks for food/short conversation/bathroom/etc. and I eventually found myself done at 7:30am Monday morning. I am not typically a person who pulls all-nighters and actually, before this assignment I could proudly say "I have never pulled an all-nighter." However, I have lost the ability to truthfully say that anymore. But, what did I learn from this experience?

Overall, through the Abstract and Data Summary, I learned not only about the bacterial diversity in the avian microbiome, but I learned about scientific writing in general. I had never made figures before for a paper, and I found it especially hard to boil down all of the results into the most clear and meaningful figures. I kind of enjoyed playing around with PowerPoint and making the figures. Well, at least I enjoyed making the figures more than writing haha. I learned that the number of sentences in the Abstract is certainly not proportional to the time spent writing it. I thought it would be easy to write such a short blurb about the paper, but due to the required length of the Abstract I spent a long time trying to think of the most important words to include.

To anyone taking this class in the future, I would definitely recommend starting the Module 1 Abstract and Data Summary well in advance. However, many lessons are often learned the hard way, and sometimes you just cannot start assignments very early-- so anticipate sleeping very little, and keep your stock of K-cups high. Caffeine is wonderful, and will be your best friend throughout the writing of your Abstract and Data Summary. It will also be your friend immediately after you submit your Abstract and Data Summary and have a 9:30am class. Lesson learned: A four shot latte is a thing at Area Four (probably not good to drink on a frequent basis)!

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