Janell Sihay

A little research life update

Currently wrapping up my thesis manuscript! AHHHHH!!!

One major realization that dawned on me was that I didn't know how to write. Oh wait, I forgot we're not doing that negative self-talk anymore. Haha. What I mean is, that my writing skills need improvement. I easily get overwhelmed when I come face to face with the blinking cursor of death. What's helping me so far is that I try to first manage my mindset when it comes to writing. I couldn't get anything started before because I always thought my writing was bad, and that it was not worth anything. Then, I reminded myself that the only way for me to get better is through practice. I also switched from passive to active voice. When I read my first drafts again, even I didn't understand any of it! It was painful to read. I guess it was because it was written in a passive voice, much like the traditional scientific way of writing. I also hadn't come up with an overarching message yet, something that I had to think about and sit on for a few days. I also noticed that there are a bunch of rules and guidelines when it comes to scientific writing, but ultimately we go back to first principles - we write to effectively communicate our research. We always have to have our readers in mind. What do we want them to know?

Research is truly an iterative process. Heck, I still find myself downloading ocean data even if I'm one week away from the manuscript deadline. But honestly, if I take the backaches, anxiety, and negative self-talk out of the equation, this experience is so far the most challenging but definitely rewarding project I have done. I learned to code in Python! I enjoy visualizing and analyzing ocean data. I am grateful I have found a creative outlet through my research, and I am excited to prepare for my defense scheduled in January 2024. AAAHHH! My heart rate just went up just thinking about it. But it's okay, this is normal. I know that everything will be fine as long as I prepare for it.

Wish me luck!