So with our project completed, my next assignment is to begin the paper that we will be submitting for review (and hopefully publication). Yikes – I’ve never written a paper before! Well, I mean, I have…. Countless papers, at this point – but I don’t believe I have ever once needed to write a scientific paper. Big difference!
Ok so its not really THAT big of a difference… The audience and the “voice” of the paper are slightly different than I am used to, and the format is different… Other than that, its pretty much like any other paper, it seems like. But it FEELS completely new.
I started with the “methods” section, and began by listing absolutely everything I have done so far for the project. It’s an interesting feeling… At the same time, I am both embarrassed by how little of my work has actually ended up being used in the project, and impressed with how much I have learned. While it makes me seriously doubt my ability to get accepted into a Masters program (much less succeed in one), at the same time I am more sure than ever that it is the path I want to strive for. What a strange-feeling combination!
There is still plenty of school to go before that becomes an issue – and still plenty of work to do on this paper before I can even begin thinking about any of that – but this experience has, at the very least, caused me to start thinking about ways in which I can keep on becoming more proactive about making a path for myself that way. While there is still plenty of work to do in the meantime, I think one of the biggest benefits of working on this project will end up being the awareness it has created for me of what opportunities I might actually have for my future, and how to begin preparing to pursue them. I’d say this is the biggest benefit I gained from having participated in UROP during this past year, as well.
In short, let me stop rambling and sum up my thoughts: First, that anyone who is even wondering about research should do their best to get involved with it as an undergraduate. Moreover, making sure that the opportunities to participate are there should be a priority of the University. I’ve yet to find out, but it could very well turn out to be life-changing for me, and I’m beyond sure that mine isn’t some kind of special case.
Also, UROP is awesome.
Lastly… Writing a scientific paper can be scary!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I’m not even done with undergrad and am already stressing about getting kicked out of grad school!