Thursday, 27 June 2013

Preparing a paper is hard; and other difficulties

I feel a bit like this... 3 years old and lost in a maze!
I've been trying my hardest to put together a full paper to submit to the 10th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (Evolang X).  It's the perfect motivation to dive into some related research before I start my PhD this Autumn.  It forces me to read and think about my project, and I'm hoping it means I'll have a good head start on getting to grips with the material.

But - and here's a news flash - preparing a paper is really hard!

It makes me wonder about the process researchers go through when submitting a paper.  Why did they choose that topic?  How did they decide what journal to submit to?  Is it a stipulation of a research team you're a part of that you need to produce a certain amount of publications?  Or is it entirely on the onus of a researcher to decide whether they want to publish a certain aspect of their work or not?

I'm full of lovely naieve questions like this.  Hopefully I'll come to understand this strange world more as I enter into it more seriously.

But back to the difficulty of writing this paper.

I guess I started out with 'wanting to write a paper for this conference' instead of 'having a piece of research and wanting to publish it' first.  It's a sort of top down rather than bottom up approach.  Is that a weakness in my research?  Like, I sat down with a blank page and wondered what question I could address, rather than having some original research I had been working on already, which I then decided to share.  Wrong approach?  Perfectly fine?  Who knows!

The piece is really pointing out a correlation between two cognitive abilities, and bringing together the research from the one discipline and offering it as something to apply to questions we have in another.  Is that reasonable?  Useful?  Warrented?  Interesting?

I have a project proposal that I submitted for my PhD, which I am treating as a roadmap for what areas of research I should further familiarize myself with, before creating a more robust project idea that really will end up shaping something that can confidently be called a PhD project.  At the moment I'm aware it's more 'grand proposals' and less 'coherent plans' at this stage, but I really want to get to grips with what I will be addressing and how I will address it over the next three years.

And the first step I have decided is to write this paper.  It will be a small piece of research that will (hopefully) be the first contribution to the form and shape of my PhD.  Will it come together as something useful?  I hope so.

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