I’m in my final month as a Stanford postdoc and this month I aim to finish writing up one of my projects. For some people, manuscripts are tedious and time-consuming to write. For me, it’s something I truly enjoy.
To me, the time spent writing the manuscript is also the time when I can collect my thoughts and get a proper overview of the project. It’s easy to get so focused on getting experiments from start to end that I lose track of why the experiment was done to begin with. Sometimes, tricky experiments that only add a little value to the project take more time than the experiments that give the main results. But while writing the manuscript I often notice other things – experiments that could be done to further prove the point.
Usually, I try to start writing while the project is ongoing, although most of it gets written when everything is mostly done. It’s when the results sections, discussion and conclusions can be written with confidence. And this is where I’m at now.
The project I’m writing up is a collaboration with researchers from another research group. For me, I’m used to writing my own papers as the only person who did the research work. When writing those papers it’s difficult to keep track of what someone other than myself knows beforehand, and the writing could be made overly simplistic or too complicated for anyone else to properly comprehend. With collaborators, more people will be reading and reviewing the text I write, and hopefully that will make it clearer. But instead, there are other things that become more difficult. When multiple people with different expertise write about different things with different style, merging all of it into a comprehensive text, with images and reasoning that match and flow seamlessly can get tricky, depending on the type of collaboration, but it can also be very rewarding.
At the moment, I’m trying to put it all together, writing new texts and editing others, all to make it readable, understandable, and convincing. After all, it was a very nice project and I really want lots of people to read about it!