Presentation Review: Prebiotic Synthesis and Microbial Survival in Early Environments

For this week’s blog we were asked to attended or watch a lecture online and to comment on how the speaker presented their material and what our opinions were of it. For my blog I chose to attended a lecture put on by the geology department here at McMaster University. The guest speaker was Dr. Karyn Rogers from the Rensselar Polytechnic Institute, who presented her research on microbial survival in early earth environments. Which looked at how microbial populations can survive in many different types of environments some of which have been believed to be inhospitable. She suggests that because of how resilient some microbes can be, our perceptions of where we can find life in this universe and how life might have started on this earth need to be reconsidered.

Dr. Rogers, opened her presentation with a brief autobiography as to how she got to this point in her life. Speaking to the audience about how she always enjoyed studying geology and evolution. It was during this introduction that I picked up on the tone in her voice. It was clear energetic and confident. She came across as genuine and excited to be at McMaster to present her research. She didn’t use a lot of jargon, and when she did, she made sure to explain how she was using the term. Which really helped the audience not only understand what she was talking about but also how she was using it in her own research. Throughout her lecture, she also incorporated a bit of humor into her lecture and for her final slide she used a comic showing another possible hypothesis as to how life on earth began outside of the RNA polymerization hypothesis. This tone,the spoke the odd bits of humor she dropped in really set the pace and atmosphere as it made the hour long lecture feel like thirty minutes.

In regards to the actual layout of her presentation, Dr. Rogers broke her presentation into two parts. Part 1 provided the audience with a background on the different theories that exist in microbiology surrounding microbial survival as well as an overview of some of the major parameters and environments that are commonly confronted in this line research. The image below titled: “Life in Context” illustrates the various factors that can have an impact on a microbes survival. Part 2 presented her research and how she went about studying and testing the RNA polymerization hypothesis. The RNA polymerization hypothesis suggests that, RNA cells were the earliest cells on earth and that they probably existed in mineral rich environments that were under high levels of pressure. While under this pressure, the crystals in minerals can change and trigger a chemical catalyst to take place within these early RNA cells, unlocking their genetic information and bringing about the earliest microbial populations. Overtime, these early cells would eventually evolve and DNA and protein synthesis would replace RNA’s function.  Dr. Roger’s research was interested in how different minerals can react under different degrees of pressure, and this in turn can have an impact on the chemical reaction within the RNA cells. What she found was that under different pressures, different minerals reacted, and this in turn affected when the RNA chemical catalyst took place.

Dr. Roger’s present this data through the use of photos, videos, graphs and charts. These images showed what she was interested in, what her findings were and methods she used. This approach she took I thought was great, as it forced the audience to focus on her voice, rather than the powerpoint she had on screen. She also used the images to organize her train of thought and help guide the audience through her lecture. She made sure to always circle back to the bigger picture after the a major point was made.

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Dr. Roger’s only used text to present important statistics, key words or for take away lessons and messages for the audience. She also made certain to circle back to her opening questions throughout her presentation to keep the reader focused on the objectives of her research. During her concluding remarks she made had a slide showing her initial questions followed by an animation with the answers to each question and summary of her findings.   image3

Overall, I thought this was a great presentation that kept the audience interested, engaged, that presented a clearly the questions she originally had when she started her research and the findings that she has found thus far. For someone who was not well versed in Microbiology, and Geology, I found I was able to keep up with her lecture fairly well. If there were things that I did get hung up on, the slideshow normally provided an illustration as to what she was saying, or she thoroughly explained it. As such I couldn’t find anything really wrong with the presentation overall. There were a few videos that didn’t work properly, and when this occurred she took the time explain what the video was suppose to be illustrating, and then asked if everyone understood. Another minor detail I picked up on was the choice of colours for her figures and charts. At times they were difficult to distinguish, but I don’t really consider this a strike against her presentation as she was at the mercy of  lecture room’s computer and projector.

 

 

The Good and the Bad of Article Writing

For this weeks blog, the class was asked to read two articles, one which we would consider to be a “good” article, and another that would be consider a “poor” one. For a long time I had never really given much thought as to what makes a good article. I always felt that if I could not understand the article it was my fault not the authors, because of this mentality I have always assumed that every article ever published would be considered a good article as they had made it through peer-review editing. However, as we have progressed through the semester I have learned, that the reader is not always at fault if they don’t understand the article they are reading, and in some cases it could in fact reflect that the article itself is poorly written.

A good example of what I considered to be a well written article would be.

2014. Megan Brickley, Tina Moffat, and Lelia Watamaniuk. Biocultural perspectives of Vitamin D deficiency in the past. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 36, 48-59.

I found this article flowed very smoothly and was easy to follow. The authors provided a clear outline of their objectives in the introductory section of the paper, as well as provide the reader with a brief history of the study of vitamin D deficiency as well as the causes of it, which I thought was a nice addition to provide, and it also helped me transition into their work. They also separated the biological approaches and causes of vitamin D deficiency from the biocultural causes, which kept the article organized and helped the reader follow the authors train of thought.

This article did contain some jargon, however, I found most of these terms were affiliated with medical conditions which had no other way of being described. The jargon itself was spread throughout the paper, and not clumped into sections, which was good as at no point while I was reading this paper did I feel completely lost or have to reread the section over to understand what had been written.

What I also like about this article was their use of headings and subheadings. Not only did they use major terms like “introduction, Results” but they also broke each of these larger sections into specific sections which focused on one particular topic, i.e.  “Sunlight and vitamin D”. This I thought was a nice touch as it informed me that the upcoming section I was about to read would strictly pertain to sunlight and vitamin D and nothing else.

Finally, the tables they included in this paper were a nice addition that provided the reader with background information as well as a summary of populations age ranges, foods, and bones that can be affected by vitamin D deficiency or have an influence on its appearance. The tables make for a quick referencing source that easily be flipped to and navigated should the reader be pressed for time.

An example of a weak article in my opinion would be:

  1. Jokar, Mohammadhassan., Hatef, Mohammadreza and Mirfeizi, Zahra. Rickets and osteomalacia in northeast Iran: report of 797 cases.

What made this a weak article for starters was the lack of citations found in the article. For instance, on page 172, the authors made a comment regarding the dietary deficiency being the most common cause for osteomalacia (pg. 172).  The authors should have cited this because despite being a broad statement it is still not considered general knowledge. Having a citation would allow the reader to be look up the reference and obtain more information if they were interested.

Another issue I had with this article was the length of the article and the amount of information presented in the article. The article came out to be five pages in PDF format, which left me with the initial impression that this article would be a very condensed article that had a lot of information for the reader to go through. However, as I started reading through I found this did not have as much data as expected, and that the authors were repeating their findings in different ways. An example can be seen on pg 171, in the second column the authors say that “In our study one pain was the most frequent clinical symptoms (96.4%)”, two pages below this statement is repeated word for word by the authors. For me this reflects bad writing, and it leaves the reader feeling they experiencing de ja vu, especially when the article is so short.

Another problem I found within this article was it was very descriptive of what the symptoms and causes for rickets and osteomalacia, which is already pretty well understood, and it didn’t really contribute anything new to the research. To make matters worse their conclusion was only a few sentences long and did not present anything new or prompt further discussion on rickets or ostemalacia in populations in Iran.

The final problem I had with this article was the images and their descriptions. I found the descriptions very vague. We were not given the age, or gender which would be useful considering vitamin D deficiency and osteomalacia was appearing in a range of ages and in both male and female patients. IN regards to the images, particularly the x-ray images, there was one image that did not have arrows to direct the readers gaze to the observation they were trying to point out in the description. For someone not familiar with x-rays trying to spot the skeletal evidence may not be easy.

After reading these two articles and getting a feel for what makes for a good and poor article. I sat down and tried to write a list of what I think a good article should have, and something that I would like to strive for when getting ready to publish my own work. My list thus far is the following:

  1. The skeletal structure should be organized, that is the author should use headings, and subheadings with concise descriptive titles so that the reader can quickly navigate the article.
  2. Jargon terms should be balanced. To much jargon can make an article difficult to follow if the reader is not well versed with all of the terms. Yet having to little can reflect poorly on the author as well for not being familiar with some of the key terms or concepts used in the discipline.
  3. The author should be able to keep their article concise, and clearly articulate and present to the reader their questions, methods and conclusions. I believe there is only so much a reader can process before they start to glaze over, which can result in key points can often be missed. Furthermore, the author should strive not to repeat themselves and if they do, be sure to articulate and word it differently so to not throw the flow off.
  4. Finally, it is said a picture is worth a thousand words. If an author can incorporate images, maps or charts and use clear and concise descriptions this can break up the text making the read easier, while at the same time help emphasize certain observations or results, that words might not be able to express as clearly.

Identifying your Audience and Recognzing the Skeletal Framework of Articles

The three articles I have chosen to reflect on were drawn from various journals that cater to audiences that I would one day like both my current and future research to be able to engage with. These journals cover broad fields of interest, which range from bioarchaeology, paleopathology to modern forensic anthropology, to trauma analysis and battlefield/conflict archaeology.Although these articles come from different journals, all of the authors follow a similar layout when it comes to organizing and presenting their data.

I chose these articles for a few reasons, the first being they peeked my interest. The topics covered in these articles don’t often appear in the literature so I was very curious to read about their findings. I also selected them, because these articles tie into fields that I am interested in studying, and so reviewing them is a good way to learn more about how write articles for audiences that fall within my fields of interest.

The three articles I selected were:

  1. Langley, Natalie 2007. “An Anthropological Analysis Of Gunshot Wounds To The Chest”. Journal Of Forensic Science 52(3). Scholars Portal: 532-537. http://: www.blackwell-synergy.com, accessed February 19 , 2016.

The audience Langley is catering her article to are those working within and with law enforcement agencies or the military, to help them identify modern ballistic trauma in skeletal remains. Within the author’s introduction, Langley emphasizes that there is limited literature available on what ballistic trauma looks like in the bony thorax, and so the purpose of this articles is to assist in overcoming this gap in the literature by providing a review of 53 documented cases that involved gunshot wounds to the chest region. 

Langley organize her data by using the various bones in the thoracic region as headings in her article (i.e clavicle, scapula, ribs) where she then proceeds to provide her observations of how the ballistic trauma appears in each particular bone. Within the discussion section Langley, goes over the similarities and differences that ballistic trauma in the thoracic region can have with other areas of the body, as well as how the observations that she made can also provide insight into questions regarding bullet trajectory, velocity and caliber. She concludes with briefly discussing some of the methods and limitations in her research and explains why she omitted them. Finally, Langley, emphasizes the importance of experimental research with cadavers (human & animal) is to forensics, and that is important to continue to do these kinds of experiments as the data it has contributed to our understanding of biomechanics of trauma in the body is irrefutable.

     2.  Appleby, Jo, Guy N Rutty, and Sarah V Hainsworth et al. 2015. “Perimortem           Trauma In King Richard III: A Skeletal Analysis”. The Lancet 385(9964).                   Elsevier BV: 253-259.

In 2012, experts began digging away at the area and established that it was part of the friary and that a skeleton, hastily buried in an uneven grave, was that of King Richard III, who was killed in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field.Mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones was matched to Michael Ibsen, a Canadian cabinetmaker and direct descendant of Richard III's sister, Anne of York.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/16/world/europe/richard-iii-bones-injuries/

Appleby and company wrote this article as a case report, that provides a detailed overview of skeletal remains believed to be King Richard III. This article is catered to a wider audience to can connect with a wider array of disciplines when compared to Langley’s article.Unlike Langley’s which sought to address missing information in the literature, this article outlines the researchers findings in the form of a case study that presents to the reader the methods and procedures used to assess the bones and explain to the reader a little about how this individual died, and how they came to determine and confirm that these remains indeed belonged to King Richard III.

The structural skeleton of the article is straight forward and uses the same overarching headings of “methods, results and discussion” to organize their findings and procedures. The “Methods” section set the article up to provide the reader with how the authors acquired their results, and describe the criteria and reasoning behind how they defined certain terms like perimortem and postmortem, as well as explain the role and purpose of  what each piece of equipment had in the research.  The “Results” section, provides the reader with the core findings and offer a detailed overview of the biological profile (age, gender, ethnicity) and the cause of death (trauma analysis). The authors take great care in describing the location, size and lesions caused by the weapon, and present hypotheses as to what kind of weapon may have caused the injuries observed in the skeleton. To support these hypotheses the authors also mention the use of experimental research to replicate the trauma observed on the bone. It is in the final section “Discussion” where the authors draw upon the historical records to help explain why the patterns of trauma were appearing the way it did and to reinforce that the biological profile produced from their findings matches up with the historical records written and preserved from the time period.

       3.Gaudio, D., A. Betto, and S. Vanin et al. 2013. “Excavation And Study Of                Skeletal Remains From A World War I Mass Grave”. International Journal of            Osteoarchaeology 25(5). Wiley-Blackwell: 585-592.

This article like Appleby et al. is catered to a wider audience to include disciplines outside of anthropology and archaeology, and is structured to present to the reader a overview of the findings they made at a mass grave site they found in Italy. The authors also wish to emphasize to the reader the importance of using archaeological recovery methods to properly remove and recover skeletal remains from mass graves. Proper removal can improve the preservation of the remains and artifacts buried with them, this can provide a clearer picture as to how the remains came to placed the way they are as well as who those remains were.

Gaudio et al., uses the over arching headings of Introduction, methods, results, discussion and conclusion to provide the organizational framework to build off of. The introductory section of the article is designed to introduce the reader to the key issues going on when it comes to recovering mass graves, and to the specific moment in history when the region of Vicenza province where the mass grave was found transformed into a battlefield. Within the Results section, the authors divide the section up in seven sections, with each section focusing on one of the seven individual recovered. Each of these sections give the reader a detailed overview of the skeleton which incorporates the biological profile as well a description of the pathological and traumatic lesions found on each skeleton. In the discussion and concluding remarks, like the other two articles, the authors use this sections to present some of the theoretical and hypotheses surrounding the events that resulted in the remains being found in the way they were. Furthermore, they reinforce their initial statement about the importance of using archaeological recovery methods to properly recover and record the remains when they are in-situ.

After reviewing these three articles, I found that all three shared a similar skeletal frame work that had the traditional scientific method approach embedded at their cores.

https://inquirylearningmyjourney.wordpress.com/tag/scientific-method/

Each article opened with their set of questions and issues, which was then followed by a detailed analysis of the results and observations, and then concluded with a brief conclusion and discussion on how their observations and results matter. These three articles were written to be as objective as possible, with only a little bit of the authors subjectivity being present at the end during the concluding remarks, allowing the readers to develop their own opinions of the data presented, and allowing the reader either agree or disagree with what conclusions or hypotheses presented by the authors.

 

Literature Review: A Bioarchaeological Perspective of the History of Violence, Phillip Walker, Annual Reviews in Anthropology. 2001 30: 573-596.

Walker’s article although now considered dated, can still offers the reader with an overview as to how bioarchaeologists can continue to contribute to the the study of violence, as well as the key theories and methodologies which continue to influence and guide bioarchaeologists studying violence today.

He starts his review off by providing the reader with a definition of what violence is, and how it has and continues to garner interest within the various fields of Anthropology and Archaeology. He then goes onto explain how we study skeletal trauma, and how it is interpreted by bioarchaeologists and what these patterns and observations in the bone can tell us. Walker emphasizes how violence and skeletal trauma can offer the researcher a great window into the behaviors and cultural perspectives past individuals may have had. In addition to providing us with insight on the individual’s life, trauma analysis and its patterning can also tell us about the broader social factors that may have been going on within that particular society. Were there social and gender inequalities? Was there a lot of political oppression or open conflict between states taking place? Was the trauma intentional or accidental? These are but a few of the broader themes Walker suggests we can learn from the skeleton when we take a bioarchaeological approach to studying them.

http://historum.com/war-military-history/98832

Towards the end of his review, Walker discusses the merits and limitations of studying modern patterns of violence and trauma and how it can affect our interpretation of past violence.Walker suggests that modern trauma analysis can provide a baseline that bioarchaeologists to compare with when it comes to trying to interpret the patterns or violence and trauma in the past. Certain patterns of violence that can appear in modern skeletons which can probably translate to the past, an example who be domestic abuse towards children and women. However, he also warns that although this can be helpful, it can also be misleading as behavioral or cultural-historical patterns may not have been the same as they are today. He also emphasizes that trauma we see in the past is not a complete picture of the actual violence that may have taken place. If there is one thing that modern forensics has shown is that there are large number of injuries dealt to victims be it war or assault that only appear in the soft tissue, which is something that cannot be seen in the archaeological record. For bioarchaeologists, this is an important lesson, for even if we are not seeing trauma in the skeleton it does not mean it did not occur.

The article concludes with a return to the importance of violence and trauma analysis, and how it is not just limited to painting a picture of a particular individuals life. Walker wishes to drive home the point that there is a bigger picture that can be understood that violence and trauma can shed light on, and that for bioarchaeologists it is important to look at these bigger pictures as they can tell us that particular society is engaging in the wider spectrum of world, as well as how society is also impacting the individual’s behaviors and perspectives on who is considered the other, and what practices are considered acceptable and what are considered taboo.

http://www.tribalartasia.com

 

Creating an Academic Article: The Timeline

The writing project I have decided to work on over the course of this semester is an undergraduate thesis I wrote back in 2012. The thesis was a case study which examined an incomplete skeleton that was excavated from Fort William Henry.  It is my hope that by the end of the semester this thesis will be condensed and formatted into a publishable article that I can submit by April or May. The journals I would like to submit my article to are either the International Journal of Paleopathology or the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.

Abstract of undergraduate thesis

The price of disobedience: Death by firing squad in the French and Indian War, Fort William Henry, NY, 1754-1756

War has long been a part of human history, however historical accounts of war tend to portray only some aspects of conflict, and often focused on a few key elements such as glory, bravery, strategy, and causes or outcomes of war. Earlier historians also have romanticized war by praising the patriotism and heroic sacrifices of the soldiers who fought in battle. But there is another side to war, a darker aspect not often spoken of in historical texts. Enforcing discipline and obedience in the ranks has long been an issue for military officers but little evidence of punishment survives in the archaeological record. Eighteenth century British soldiers were subject to harsh discipline for a variety of transgressions, and some crimes resulted in a death sentence. We report here on the skeletal remains of a soldier from Fort William Henry, NY whose body was struck by multiple projectiles in a concentrated area. There is a cluster of depressed rib fractures, and damage to the arms, right shoulder and vertebrae. The trauma is consistent with multiple musket ball impacts, fired at relatively close range. Given the inaccuracy and low propulsive power of the 18th century muskets, it is unlikely that these injuries occurred in battle. The extensive damage to the bones and the patterning of the injuries suggest that this individual was executed by firing squad.

Image of Fort William Henry on Lake George. (http://www.fwhmuseum.com/)

The execution of Admiral John Byng in 1757 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/10136826/Family-hope-pardon-for-shamed-Admiral-Byng-will-finally-arrive.html)

The Timeline:

Week 4: (January 25th -January 31st)

  • review the undergraduate thesis and assess what sections of the thesis should focused on and what sections can be reduced.
  • Review written requirements for journals mentioned above.

Week 5: (February 1st- February 7th)

  • Contact supervisor who helped me
  • review academic literature to see if additional information can be added to the thesis
  • search for 5 articles

Week 6: (February 8th- February 14th)

  • Continue searching for articles which can be added to thesis
  • Review photograph formatting for the journals above and select and edit photos that will be used in article

Week 7 Reading Week: (February 15th- February 21st)

  •    Begin editing and condensing thesis

Week 8: (February 22nd- February 28th)

  • Continue to edit and condense thesis and begin laying out thesis into proper formatting layout, begin writing sections that need to be expanded upon.

Week 9: (February 29th- March 6th)

  • Continue to format thesis into publishable article

Week 10: (March 7th – March 13th)

  • article should be ready for peer review.

Week 11: (March 14th- March 20th)

  • revisions and suggestions from peer review will be made, and article will be sent to former advisor for her review of it.

This is a very vague outline of how I would like to see this semester progress, however, truthfully the month of March is very much up in the air and open to change. Depending upon the number of revisions and suggestions made during the peer review process will greatly influence when the article can be sent off to my old advisor, and after that the number of revisions my former advisor requests can also fluctuate.  It is my hope that I can get this article sent off to one of the published journals by the end of April or May, however, this will greatly depend upon the availability of my former advisor.

Reflecting on My Writing Style and Workflow

 

Over the years, I have come to develop a writing style and writing workflow that builds off of a skeleton outline that contains my key points and ideas for how I want to structure a paper, chapter or proposal. I structure my skeleton outline before I even start doing research on my topic. I do this because I like to have a game plan when it comes to what I should be looking up and how I would like my paper, chapter or proposal to flow. This early skeleton outline helps me get into the research mentality and often alleviates the stress and anxiety I often go through when I am writing papers.

Example Outline:

Rum as a Culinary Caribbean Symbol:

  1. History of the Caribbean
    1. Colonialism
    2. History of Rum
  2. Production of Rum
    1. Who made it?
    2. How was and Made?
  3. The Commercialization and Popularization of Rum
  4. what regions had high demand for rum?
  5. Rum as a symbol for the Caribbean
    1. modern advertisement
    2. local perspectives of rum

During the early aspects of research stage, when I am just starting to get an idea for what the literature has to offer, my skeleton outline is fluid. It will constantly evolve and change until finally I have an outline that not only reflects what the existing literature has to say on the topic but also where my stance is on the subject. I use the skeleton outline to organize and keep track of the literature I have read and where each article can be employed within my paper. It incorporates the article citations, quotes and their page numbers as well as a rough sketch of how I want to structure that particular section of the paper. By the time I am done looking at the literature, the skeleton outline that I initially went in with now contains more depth and data from which I can then start to structure and build paragraphs.

With the foundation set in place, I make a copy of the outline and create a second word file, this second document will eventually become the final paper. One of the hardest things for me to do is actually start the paper, and writing the introduction often takes the longest for me. This is not because I don’t have a good grasp of the literature or my arguments, it is rather a writer’s block that I experience that makes me doubt the work I have put into the outline, and if I have done enough research on the topic I am about to write on. To help me overcome this hurdle I often use any abstracts or proposals I have written and submitted for evaluation to act as a starting point to carve out an introduction. Once I am past this hurdle, depending on how much research I have done, and how comfortable I feel with the literature will affect my pace and writing workflow.

When I am writing my paper I do not produce one complete rough draft which I then revise, to produce a second revised draft. Rather, I produce one working draft, which I continuously edit, and modify as I am writing. If I don’t like a paragraph or sentence I have written, or if I think it can fit somewhere else, I do not delete it, rather I simply highlight the section and cut it out from the area I am working in or I create a large gap and return to it at a later time or when I have use for it.

I like to work on my papers and assignments in the mornings right after I have my breakfast and a hot shower. The breakfast and shower wake me up and help me organize my thoughts as to how I am going to go about scheduling my day. The morning hours are when I am the most productive and also the best time to find a place in my house to work quietly. With no one in the house, I can get myself comfortable and not worry about being interrupted. Depending on when I get up (usually 8am) I like to force myself to work for at least 4 hours before I take any sort of break. Around noon I will normally put down what I am working on and eat my lunch. While on my lunch break (which is about an hour), I will assess how much I have gotten done and determine how much longer I should keep working on the paper for the day. Normally, I push myself to work for 2.5-3 hours, which brings me to around 4pm. By this time family members start to make their way back to the house and I no longer have the peace and quiet I need for my writing. From 4pm to around 6pm I am relaxing (be it a movie, catching up with the family or playing video games). The work I do in the evenings tend to either be minor adjustment to the paper, or tasks that do not require a lot of energy. Organizing tables, checking citations, or  selecting images and writing their descriptions for presentations, are a few of the tasks I find still make me feel like I am being productive yet do not stress me out before I end my work day. By 9pm I like to have my microsoft office programs saved and closed. The remaining hours that I am up before I go to bed are spent on helping me relax or unwind from the long day.

The Hang Ups and Moments of Writer’s Block

Over the years, I have found that there are several hang ups I often run into when I am writing my papers. The most challenging one being, actually getting myself into the mood to write. Proposals, abstracts and Introductions are often the hardest aspects of a paper for me to write. It doesn’t matter how much research I may have done to prepare for the paper, it is often still very difficult for me to take those first steps in getting my thoughts onto the page. When I am writing papers that I have no interest in, this can be very difficult to overcome, and often the only fix for this is feeling the pressure and stress of the deadlines. When I am writing a topic that does interest me, often the hang up occurs in the introduction. Before I can even start on the body paragraphs of the paper, I need to make sure the introduction is close to perfect. This is because each day before I start writing, I always have to do a read through of what I have written, and often the introduction is the key for ‘hooking’ and pulling me into the writing zone to pick up where I left off.

Another hang up I commonly run into is I have the tendency to become fixated on awkward paragraphs or sentences that I then obsess about and cannot leave alone until they have been fixed. This hang up can tie into the broader issue I have which is time management and pace. When I become fixated on these paragraphs I can spend a couple hours revising and editing before I actually move on. This hang up often gets me stressed out and second guessing my research and understanding of the topic.

The third major hang up I can fall into is editing in general. Before i submit anything I have someone else read it and tell me if it’s okay or needs more work (As I am typing this I am already asking a few friends if they have time to read this!). I like having a second person review my work because I know my own editing skills are not the best. Even after I do several reviews of my paper, having that second set of eyes go through my work will always turn up a few more awkward sentences or missing words that I may have missed. I also like having a second reviewer (especially honest ones) as they can often tell me if I am sticking to my points and arguments or if I am going off on tangents or am repeating myself too much. I have certainly come a long way since my undergrad, however, my confidence in my writing ability is somewhat low. It is my hope that this course will be able to remedy this writing issue I have and help me get better at it.

For many of us writer’s block can also be an issue. In my experience although I have had writer’s block, in many cases it does not last very long (5 to 10 minutes at most). Often pacing back and forth and thinking out loud helps me work myself out of these blocks. In the cases when they persist over 20 minutes I often just stop all writing and walk away from the paper for a while. After about an hour of relaxing or doing other things I very easily pick up where I left off and often the writer’s block is resolved.

I am hoping this class will be able to help me address some of these hang ups I run into while I am writing papers, and I am looking forward to reading and hearing your suggestions on what solutions work best for you when you are confronted with problems or hang ups similar to mine.

Cheers!