Saturday, 12 October 2013

Time to write a proposal

I've written, scrambled, summarised and expanded on my project for various funding and scholarship applications. Funding "proposals" must be simple, concise, and sell the project as something that really needs doing. I have mostly been focusing on the conservation benefits of my project, and not going into too much detail with the methods.

Now, I have to write a proposal for the university. Although the primary purpose is to convince my university that I can do this project and that it is worthwhile, it's also a really useful thing for me. Writing a longer, more detailed proposal allows me to think really carefully about my project, how I'm going to do everything, how long each part will take. I have a lot of thoughts floating around my head so it's great to get them down in order and organise things a bit. However, there is also a lot of learning to do, as my undergraduate degree didn't really cover any of this stuff. So I have many a book out from the library, many a paper downloaded, and many a cup of tea.

In the first two days of writing my proposal, I wrote a sentence and a half. On the third day, I deleted the first sentence and completed the half. That was only because I was reading a lot, honestly! This is how it seems to always be with academic writing; it takes a while to get into the swing of it. Things are indeed improving, as on Friday I wrote a page and today so far I have written a paragraph.

At the same time as I am writing, I am trying to improve my writing style. Academic writing is very easy to do badly, especially because nobody really gets trained in it and all the constructive criticism I get on my writing style is really just opinion. This is something I feel strongly about, because I dream of a world where scientists and non-scientists alike will willingly and painlessly read papers in academic journals, understand and discuss them. People will make informed decisions based on original research, because it will be set out clearly in a way that everybody can understand and nobody can ignore. So I'm reading a really good (so far) book, Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword, and trying really hard to make my proposal interesting and easy to read without sacrificing the information it contains.

It's probably time for me to tell you about my project. Next post, I swear!

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