Sensational science -or- why I should still publish my own autobiography.

I’m writing up the results section for my MS thesis.  Although I am gearing my writing style for the typical L&O format, I am still concerned about the “readability” of the text.  In essence, I am saying that if it’s boring to me and I lose interest after the first 2 sentences, what does that say about the reader? The future editor? My audience? Well, it says a lot to me.  I have high expectations in the writing department and it is frustrating to have accomplished all this work and distill it down to some cut and dry results section.

As an example (of how boring this is):

“Population C abundance was blank cells per ml at time point Y whereas population E showed little change in abundance throughout the duration of the experiment.”  (YAWN!)

With the exception of an illustrative table, the descriptive results section is so boring I can’t stand it.  I’m not sure how to make this more readable and interesting.   What I’ve come to realize is that the majority of papers that I read need to have an exceptionally interesting or relevant abstract, a clear and concise methods section as well as a well-written discussion.  Perhaps the results section is just that – you state what you found/measured/observed and then be done with it.  Move on to bigger and better things, get to the meat of the paper- the discussion and greater context right?

I went to an informative workshop about the in’s and out’s of publishing at the AGU Ocean Sciences meeting.  It was extremely helpful and at the same time somewhat intimidating.  It seems as though I am miles away from publishing and have a lot to learn.  This seems true when you are starting out as a graduate student.  The fine craft of telling a story through your science must surely be an art unto itself.  How does one become skilled at crafting such a storyline? Despite uncooperative research, experimental design and messy environmental data, scientists are able to publish, some are prolific and yet, it remains this mysterious world to me.  I am embellishing a bit now, but you get the point – that publishing is something that isn’t cut and dry.  Although some (if not many) aspects to scientific research are tedious and (at times) boring, it is a challenge to pull out the interesting aspects that relate pertinent information that others can utilize – AND- at the same time – sell your story!


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About hawright

marine ecologist

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