How to Write a Research Paper

In high school, I took something called “Experimental Biology” where all we did was to do experiments and write papers. The culmination of this class was a giant “research” paper based on citations we looked up, old-style via microfiche, on the bacteria we grew in the lab. It took forEVER to find 3 articles on the bacteria I was working with. I will never forget the final, which was a set-up question for a paper written on the fly, in research paper style, during the 3 hours’ final exam time we were given. I was lucky. I had many classes that taught me how to write, two of which were in high school (I took creative writing as well). My old alma mater forced all freshmen to take a “How to Write a Paper” class and you had to pass it or else you spent the rest of eternity taking that class until you did. Thank god I passed the first time ’round.

For the people who aren’t so lucky, I found one (of many) helpful sources: Writing a scientific article: A step-by-step guide for beginners. And for those who want more sources, this paper has some citations to check out.

Online Transcribing for Fun

The past two days I’ve been spending some time at the transcription center of the Smithsonian. I’ve always loved looking at things people wrote in the past, before there were computers. It’s a glimpse into how things were, in a very concrete, this-journal-was-held-by-history kind of way. I was browsing pictures of old journals all over the place, trying to read them. Then, somehow, I found that the general public can go online to help transcribe old writing. Some places, like museums, look for people who can read cursive because most of the old written stuff was in cursive, the further back in time it goes, the fancier the cursive gets. I’ve transcribed tables of rations given in the south from 1867, contracts between land owners and “Freedmen” from 1866, and some of Clara Barton’s writings. I’m going to go back to the Clara Barton stuff, which is at the National Library of Congress; her handwriting was really neat. There are tons of things to transcribe and for those who are bored who want to find something worthwhile to do (make history more accessible) can just go to these sites and start without having to make an account!