Tuesday, October 7, 2008

trying to say what I want to say... what do I want to say?

Today I got feedback from the lab about my review. Most of the feedback said that I need to make my points more clearly and not bury them in the middle of the paper. As one person commented, I need to do a better job of saying what I'll say, saying it, and then saying what I said. I also haven't found the right audience, or the right angle.

Herb said in grad school he read two reviews on the same topic. One was an exhaustive summary of the literature, and the other took the literature and made a point with it. I need to do more of the latter and less of the former.

Basically, I've done a lot of reading, thinking, and writing, but I still don't have a clear, interesting, or memorable way to communicate my synthesis. I'm a little bit discouraged, but I'm not going to let myself get down about it. I can publish this (someday!); I just need an epiphany like the one I had a few weeks ago about my GRF application.

As much as I want to, I am going to resist the urge to stop thinking about this paper for a while. I'm not going to put as much energy into it until after the GRFP application is due, but I'm not going to ignore it completely. I'm hoping that if I keep coming back to it every few days and thinking about it a little bit at a time that I'll have another breakthrough.


sarcozona said...

When I'm struggling with writing, I like to read a section or just a paragraph of the paper a day. Then it's jangling around in the back of my brain, and I'm more likely have one of those breakthroughs :)

Paulina said...

on the other hand, if you step away from it for a day or two, you may gain some inspiration

EcoGeoFemme said...

I was thinking what Paulina said, but maybe even longer than a couple of days. Maybe if you put the paper down for like, a few weeks, you will have a fresh head about it when you read it again. You are so close to the paper that you may not be able to see places where the logic is muddled, but those passages might pop out at you if you give yourself some distance. Plus you'll be ruminating on it even if you're not looking at it every day.

On the other hand, I can't seem to finish a paper and I'm in my 6th freaking year of grad school, so maybe you want to do the opposite of whatever I recommend.

Karina said...

What I've done in the past is forget about it for weeks at a time. It didn't seem to help all that much, so I'm going to try the small pieces approach. It also makes it seem less daunting.

One thing the Writing Your Dissertation book talks about is evaluating your writing practices every once in a while so you can change them if they aren't working as well as they could. This is such OBVIOUS advice, but I honestly think I'd keep plugging along with the same sub-optimal writing habits if I hadn't read that.

Karina said...

Also, I'm not planning to look at it every day. I just don't want to let myself ignore it for several weeks like I've done before. I'll try to work on a bit every few days.