Today marks the third week since the start of my PhD program at Washington University at St. Louis. Inspired by fellow PhD student Saumik, I’ve decided to commit to writing a weekly blog to track the progress of my maturation as a PhD student. You can check out Saumik’s website here.
New to the blogging scene, the first few posts will be littered with rough edges and the website in general will be rather bland. I have lately felt a need to write as it has been years since the days of writing-intensive liberal arts courses resulting in a noticeable degradation in my writing and flow of thinking in general. Hopefully this commitment to weekly blogging will help develop a writing habit that will keep me thinking and bring some structure to this disorderly COVID-19 schedule.
Besides the goal of putting my life together again, writing is a crucial skill to hone as a PhD student. During the next several years, I will need to write numerous papers on prestigious journals and conferences whose primary audience is other scientists in the field. This will require a very specific set of writing skills. Scientific writing must communication scientific information in a concise and precise manner. Flowery, ambiguous, verbose, and redundant language have no place in this writing style. The ultimate goal of a PhD is to write a dissertation that is typically hundreds of pages long. According to this blog post, the average length of a computer science doctoral dissertation from a sample gathered at the University of Minnesota database is 103 pages. The hope is that this weekly blogging project will make the seemingly daunting task more achieveable.
At the moment, I am not too sure what kind of content I will be writing on. I will most likely choose to write on what I learned during the course of the week. These may consist of organized notes on lecture material or particular topics that I have found interesting and have taken a further look at. The makeup of my blog posts will change as I continue with my program. I can already sense that I will be writing my own takes on research papers I have read to gain a better understanding of the subject matter.
Hopefully at the end of my PhD, I can look back at all the blog posts I have written and feel accomplished with not only the improvement of quality of writing but just the sheer amount I will have written over the years.