Saturday, July 4, 2015

The importance of writing

Students who enter the world of research are often unprepared for the amount of writing it entails. Most people see PhD students as living in dark labs, huddled around their experiments and with little concern for the rest of the world. Indeed, at some points of time, this is fairly accurate - but not always. For, the essence of good research is the peer review process, which inherently involves sharing and discussing research. Indeed, research (once you have some results) is actually a rather social process. And that process involves a lot of writing - scientific writing, in fact. For every paper that is written, submitted for the peer review process and (hopefully) published, knowledge is being shared and, in many cases, philosophical differences are being established.

But a fundamental requirement of this is that whatever is written, is written well. While advisers do have a responsibility in ensuring that papers are well-written, the ultimate thrust lies on the students themselves. Therefore, PhD students need to keep practicing the fine art of scientific writing - for only that can make them better at it. I've spent most of this summer writing - papers, my thesis and later this week, a presentation and a poster. I thought research would mean continuously finding out new things. Turns out, while it does include that, it also includes sharing it.  

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