Saturday, February 20, 2016

To create

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it." - Colette

As most of you know, friends, I've been spending a lot of time lately writing my dissertation. I'm a fourth-year Ph.D. student, and that's just the way it is - after traveling the world and collecting all my data, it's time I sit down and actually write the thing. As you may imagine, the process is long.
If there's one thing I've learned about the scientific process during my Ph.D., it's that science is a lot more creative than most people think. Sure, I have to analyze my data objectively in order to answer scientific questions, but there's a lot of thought that goes into choosing those questions. A single data set can show very different results, depending on the question the investigator asks of it. A single habitat or study organism can also yield very different data, depending on what question the investigator seeks to answer. 

I've spent plenty of time the past four years asking, modifying, and re-asking scientific questions. I've analyzed my datasets a minimum of four times each, and I can't even begin to tell you how many collective manuscript drafts I've gone through to properly present the results. I've told you about modifying one of my analyses before, and I insist the process is just as complicated (and fun) each time.

This past week, most of my time was spent with my shipwreck manuscript. I actually thought I was finished with it in December, but after my committee meeting in January, I decided to back up and start over. The committee asked me to draw stronger parallels between the shipwreck analysis and my analysis of dropstones. Even though it meant a bit more work this week, I'm optimistic about where the paper is going.

Slowly but surely, with lots of material created and then destroyed, re-shaped, and re-hashed, my dissertation is coming together!

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