Just had a conversation with fellow PhD student about writing experimental design, or Methods section. Top-down principle suggest starting with very broad strokes and go down by refining each item. In our case it looks something like that.
Let’s assume, we’ve decided that is enough writing for the day. But tomorrow we can come back and have energy to work on one of these item. For example, numbers (2) and (3). Our Methods section is turned now into:
Prepare microscope: select filters, laser lines
Set up imaging parameters: Z resolution, XY resolution, temporal resolution, scanned Z extent, temporal extent
Add projector to the microscope
Program projector to present images to the fish
Set up parameters: intensity, time delay, randomization seed etc
Present visual stimuli A, B, C
Control for intensity
Control for spatial location of stimuli
This allows us to work on part of the bigger work, instead of trying to write whole section at once. It also allows making small notes on what should be there, so it is easier to remember and fill-in the details later.
More general site for discussion of anything related to professional workplace. After all, we are working in academia and science too. This is perfect for students, trying to transition into research, since it covers:
relationships in the team
how to ask for raise, promotion
what is expected from professionals
“Is this behavior professional and how should I deal with it?”
There are a lot of ways to make presentation better. And we should, since since is at least 75% presenting and talking about our work. Here some recent ideas from discussion reported by @AcademicChatter:
Agile: main goal is successful research, not following some sort of “best practices” list
Rapid: We aim to move swiftly through the project, figuring bottlenecks as soon as possible
Responsible: We acknowledge that mistakes will be made and proactively look for ways to lower risks
Notes on research
Result of sciencing is clearly presented high-quality scientific results. It can be delivered as statistically significant observations of nature. It can be delivered as novel useful experimental protocols or data analysis tools that help discovery.
Notes on engineering
Central idea for engineers is that they design and deploy products, something tangible that will be used by other people. This could include microscopes, behavioral experimental setups, analysis and control software, data management solutions, and other elements of research environment.
This means that projects should be treated in such a way that:
Development should be based on written specification, result of constant conversations between users and engineers
Final product includes evolving documentation
Final product includes documented way to track issues and users’ requests for new features, as product will contain bugs, but also evolve
Notes on people
We acknowledge that being people is hard and painful.
We acknowledge that talking to people is hard and painful but it is the only thing that ever moved complex projects forward sustainably