Listen to a conversation between a student and a professor.
Uh, excuse me, Professor Thompson. I know your office hours are tomorrow, but I was wondering if you had a few minutes free now to discuss something.
Sure, John. What did you want to talk about?
Well, I have some quick questions about how to write up the research project I did this semester - about climate variations.
Oh, yes. You were looking at variations in climate in the Grant City area, right? How far along have you gotten?
I've got all my data, so I'm starting to summarize it now, preparing graphs and stuff.
But I'm just... I'm looking at it and I'm afraid that it's not enough, but I'm not sure what else to put in the report.
I hear the same thing from every student. You know, you have to remember now that you're the expert on what you've done.
So, think about what you'd need to include if you were going to explain your research project to someone with general or casual knowledge about the subject, like ... like your parents.
That's usually my rule of thumb: would my parents understand this?
OK. I get it.
I hope you can recognize by my saying that how much you do know about the subject.
Right. I understand. I was wondering if I should also include the notes from the research journal you suggested I keep?
Yes, definitely. You should use them to indicate what your evolution in thought was through time.
So, just set up, you know, what was the purpose of what you were doing - to try to understand the climate variability of this area - and what you did, and what your approach was.
OK. So, for example, I studied meteorological records; I looked at climate charts; I used different methods for analyzing the data, like certain statistical tests; and then I discussed the results.
Is that what you mean?
Yes, that's right. You should include all of that. The statistical tests are especially important.
And also be sure you include a good reference section where all your published and unpublished data came from, 'cause you have a lot of unpublished climate data.
Hmm... something just came into my mind and went out the other side.
Oh, that happens to me a lot, so I've come up with a pretty good memory management tool.
I carry a little pad with me all the time and jot down questions or ideas that I don't want to forget.
For example, I went to the doctor with my daughter and her baby son last week and we knew we wouldn't remember everything we wanted to ask the doctor, so we actually made a list of five things we wanted answers to.
A notepad is a good idea. Since I'm so busy now at the end of the semester, I'm getting pretty forgetful these days.how can i just remembered what I was trying to say before.
Good. I was hoping you'd come up with it.
Yes. It ends up that I have data on more than just the immediate Grant City area, so I also included some regional data in the report.
With everything else it should be a pretty good indicator of the climate in this part of the state.
Sounds good. I'd be happy to look over a draft version before you hand in the final copy, if you wish.
Great. I'll plan to get you a draft of the paper by next Friday. Thanks very much. Well, see ya.