Sunday, May 10, 2015

The "Low Stress" Mod 3 Paper

The mod 3 paper is a short 3 page paper that you write with your partner on the last day of lab. It is supposed to be low stress. Besides the Mod 2 paper, it might have been the most stressful. You walk in thinking how hard can it be, but then

You start off not too stressed. I mean you have like 3 ish hours and only at most 3 pages to write between the two of you, and you have several experts on standby ready to answer your questions. Then your computer tries to open the really large TIF pictures from the TEM, and you make the mistake of trying to open all of them at once making your PC freeze and making you start to wish you had a mac.
Luckily you have a partner though, and he is on top of his game. Already done with the first figure and agrees to tackle the second figure because your computer sucks while you take care of some writing. As I mentioned in previous posts, one of the hardest things to do is to just start writing. Once I was able to break through the wall, I started flowing. Time flew and by the time I started writing there wasn't time to make sure what I was writing made sense. I just had to get stuff down and go back and check it at the end.
One of the hardest things to do is to stay focused, though. People will ask a question and you will want to help or someone will just want to talk and then your momentum is ruined. If you make it to the part where I actually give advice about how to tackle this paper and use that advice you won't need to give short rude answers when someone wants to just chat.
By 4:55 we were still hurriedly typing. Trying to get as much info down, converting bullet points into sentences, finding sources to cite. Luckily after taking this class you know how to read an abstract and know whether or not a paper is useful or not. You also learn how to write an abstract so others know this when they read yours but that's getting a bit off the point. We get two sources and its 4:59 there's no time to cite the third so we just slap on the link. "Wait we need to spell check," I say as the clock is ticking. "There's no time!" Will exclaims. It is better to have poor spelling and have something submitted than it is to not have it accepted because you were 10 seconds late because of spell checking. I was able to slip in a spell check luckily before he saved it, but after submitting I felt like that was much worse than expected.

All that said, I think (or at least hope) the professors know that it is a first draft and wont be perfect, so don't stress as much as I did.

Now the advice:
Come prepared. Go through the data ahead of time and make an outline of what you want to write. Maybe even draft up some topic sentences or full sections. Pre-make your figures. If you find out you did something wrong, it is much easier to make edits to it to fit the requirements than it is to start when you walk in. You actually have everything you need to complete the paper before you go to lab that day. The only thing you gain is knowledge of what should be in the paper.

Side note: Although he likes to buy razer sharp thin crust pizza, I am glad I ended up with such a great lab partner. Congrats on getting the job and good luck when you apply to med school, Will!

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