Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Figuring Outlines Out

I have been trying to work on my upcoming PhD proposal. PI'd like to see a rough draft by the end of the summer. Went to talk to him about ideas for experiments and he showed me a new way to outline.. PICTURES. I've always been a bullet point girl, list the topics that must be covered and then develop each one.

Went in to his office (which can be a swirling black hole of lost time, seriously we all know do not go into the PI's office if you do not have at least 30min to lose). I wanted to discuss upcoming protoplast work and my ideas for different experiments. We were talking when he whips out a blank piece of paper and tells me he learned to do this during his post-doc. Draws the graph that started this whole line of reasoning and labeled it 1. Next, he drew the graphs for the 2 experiments I was proposing.

"Not enough for a paper, so what comes next?" he asked me. A question I had not thought about.. I mean I had these experiments and was going to see what they said. He pushed me to think about it, well assume it will go the way we expect. What would be the next step. Thought about.. proposed something and we went from there. In about 10 minutes we had 5 figures drawn and a potential 6th for if X happened.

It was a light bulb moment for me. You have a piece of data that gives you an idea.. how do you flush it out to be a whole paper.. draw the rest of the figures! This could be the path to figuring out my PhD Proposal. What figures would hopefully go into each chapter of the dissertation? What questions do they answer? How do I generate them? If I can answer all of those questions, or at least get close, the experimental layout portion of my proposal is going to be a piece of cake!

Have you ever tried using pictures to outline? Any advise for proposal writing?

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