Saturday, May 14, 2016

Too Much of A Good Thing...

I came into 20.109 feeling pretty confident about my scientific communication abilities. I had been doing science fairs for years and was pretty used to poster-style presentations. I was honestly super na├»ve about the other forms of scientific communication and I’m so glad I got exposure to them through 20.109. I think with both verbal and written communication, I struggled (and continue to struggle, but less so) with including way more than is necessary. In our first min-presentation in Mod 1, I had a hard time cutting down all the stuff we did into 3 minutes and in the journal club I was rushing through the whole presentation because I had just included way too many things for a 10-minute presentation. I never thought I would feel like a 10-minute solo presentation would feel short, but at the end I was left wanting much more time to speak. 

But this was a product of my own doing, I definitely could have presented the contents of that paper really well within those 10 minutes had I just omitted some of the repetitive and unnecessary stuff. Which is what I tried to keep in mind for the grant proposal presentation. Too much detail was definitely a bad thing. I was constantly trying to strike the right balance between actually providing the needed information but not going overboard in the details that I included. It felt a little bit like the process of methods writing, which is still an area that I need to get much better at (I have this compelling desire to include every single step because I’m just constantly worried that the reader won’t be able to actually discern what the experiment was). I know writing methods sections are super boring and I’m sure are super boring for the teaching staff to read, but I think it might be beneficial (at least for people like me) to have one or two more homework assignments that have us write just one subsection of the methods section. It’s a little daunting to do a half of a full module, but I think it’s a skill I need to develop further and that might have been achieved by smaller methods section homeworks spread throughout the semester.

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