Monday, August 23, 2010
It's been a crappy few weeks in my world, culminating in an absolutely terrible day at work
, which then led to a doctor's appointment, and finally talking Hubby into letting me watch Grease with him on the couch tonight. (Like I said, it was a really bad day.) I refuse to get into that stuff here, since I see this as more of a science/career-focused blog. Plus, I really need to move on from the whole mess, and what better way to calm my nerves than writing about a topic as innocuous as, say, writing? Of course, there are those who might disagree with me, but I find writing very soothing. It refocuses me, gets me excited about that which I'm writing, and leads me into a very Zen-like state. I never worry about how things sound as I start writing - I just type. A sort of keyboard diarrhea inevitably ensues, but I clean it up later. And the whole process ends up being very therapeutic. So what better way to get past this horrid day than writing about writing?
Of course, I don't want to just write about writing per se
; I have a bit of a bone to pick on the subject. Over the past year, I've heard a number of grad students talk about getting "permission" to write their dissertation. While I've heard this phrase many times before, I worry about the fact that several of these students are actually waiting to get this formal "permission" before writing a lick of their thesis. I DO NOT GET THIS ONE BIT. I guess it's possible
that their committee intended for this outcome, but I seriously doubt it. Alternatively, the committee likely wants the PhD candidate to continue working at the bench until given "permission", assuming that work on the dissertation-writing front is ongoing. I just can't see the desired intent being that a grad student waits until the very end of their doctoral degree to write up any of their work.
On the contrary, grad students should be continually writing throughout their thesis work, one results section at a time. For papers, if possible. If not, then for practice. Writing is an art, and it takes lots of practice. You understand your data and results better when you have time to write and reflect on them. Speaking on those results is important too, but unless you can convey your message on paper, you're doomed.
So grad students, start writing now. Take some time - once a week, every two weeks, at least once a month - and write up some of your results. No results? Then write up an introduction and rationale for the experiments you're working on. Write up your methods. Write up results/conclusions for imaginary data (but don't mix these up with an actual manuscript draft later on). JUST WRITE SOMETHING. Please
, do not wait until you're under the gun. I've seen it happen before, and it's a recipe for thesis disaster. Five/six years into graduate school is way too late to learn how to write about your work. You don't, and will never, need permission to sit down at your computer and write about your