Monday, May 11, 2015


Today, Sonia and I briefly reflected on our work with the Mod 3 mini report during a study break from making our presentation. We smiled widely after realizing that we had survived all three modules, but, more importantly, something she mentioned really struck me. She mentioned that the mini report was not too stressful of an event because we had built up a lot of confidence with writing throughout the semester (plus working in a team helps). I know that I'm no where near a great scientific writer at this point, but I think one day I'll be decent. This class was a great help with building the confidence for becoming a better writer. The biggest improvement I saw is that I really knew what the criteria for each section was. I know what types of things belong in the results and which types of things belong in discussion. I can create a decent abstract. I know how to construct a clear figure and meaningful, concise caption. I remember stumbling while figuring out how to successfully construct the Mod 1 paper, but now in Mod 3, I was having no difficulty realizing what needed to be done. Of course I still had to make my thoughts clear and make sure I encompassed all the science that was done in Mod 3, but at least I knew the outline well. That made all the difference.

How does one gain confidence? Well, personally, I obtained general confidence years ago after faking it for a really long time. I was really shy going into high school, but as I took on more leadership positions and found myself needing to take charge and lead others, I had to at least pretend that I had the confidence to do so. I would speak with conviction and purpose and captivate the audience. After a while, I found that I actually was not pretending anymore. I knew what I was doing and I felt comfortable being a leader and having people's attention. Less generally speaking though, I think confidence comes from practice. It comes from knowing what is asked of you and knowing how to get it done. It comes from believing that you have the necessary tools to complete the task. It's hard to imagine sometimes, but often we really do know what we are doing and how to do it. This translates directly to scientific writing, in that the more practice I got, the more confident I felt that I could at least put together a decent paper conveying my ideas.

I was searching for a picture to illustrate confidence and when I found this one with a lion on it, I was sold.

Some other things that help with confidence:
1) Keep smiling through it all, I'm not sure exactly how this relates to confidence, but how can you be not confident while having a bold grin on your face? Smiling is just good for you anyway.
2) Don't stress. Believe that you have all the necessities.
3) Be prepared. This one is really important. One thing that really helped with making the Mod 3 mini report not stressful was basically having all of the figures and captions ready to go before class. Having that solid starting foundation made things move a lot more smoothly and efficiently. Starting is always the hardest part, so having something prepared helps knock down that initial wall.

Confidence is key.
Mod 1 - check, Mod 2 - check, Mod 3 - check, research proposal presentation - let's do this.

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