Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In which I Discuss Student Stuff......

For the few folks reading this who may not be aware, I have recently re-embarked on my educational journey - becoming a formal student for the first time since I dropped out of high school sixteen years ago. As part of this journey, I am taking several classes that are prerequisites required to complete the program I am taking. I intend on discussing some of those classes here, because one, I'm spending a hella lot of time in them and two, because some of the things I am studying are relevant to discussions I am trying to foster here.

One of the ideas I am tossing around, is posting some of the papers I am writing at any given point. For the most part they will tend to be papers on topics that I am rather interested in, given that I am embarking on a course of study that I find interesting. At the moment, I am taking a college writing and research class and have managed to get an instructor who is allowing me to pick the topics I write will have to write two major papers on. And this is where you, my readers can come into my world.

I would like to know what you think I should pick as a first topic. I was originally thinking I would write a paper on harm reduction and a new addiction paradigm, but the recent discussion about eugenics (knowing that I am going to spend a fair amount of time researching and blogging about it) has led me to consider writing the paper on eugenics. And of course there is literally a world full of other topics to consider. I am definitely going to keep the topic within the realm of science, either psychology, neurology or genetics. But within those categories are a whole lot of options. So please weigh in. What would you like to see me write about? Given the same assignment, what would you choose as a topic? If you were restricted by the parameters I mentioned, what would you choose?

Also, would it be silly to post papers? I promise they will be nearly as edge of your seat exciting as the breathtakingly thrilling posts I write. Or more to the point, they will be no more boring than the sorts of stuff I write already. They will be longer though. Probably quite a bit longer. And it has been pointed out to me before, that I am certainly not going to gain a reputation in the blogosphere for my brevity.

I know most of the people reading have spent far more time in school in recent years than I have (especially those of you who are profs) and probably have more recent experience with this sort of thing. And now that I mention it, if you happen to be a prof, feel free to tell me what you like, or don't like to see in a paper. (And in case any of my profs stop by) Did I mention that I have the most remarkable and stimulating instructors ever?

I will probably soon be posting my first paper, in which I discuss;

To learn to think is to learn to question. Discuss a matter that you once thought that you knew "for sure" that you have now begun to question.
When reasonably possible, I will also try to bring into the discussion here, the things I am studying in school. Coincidentally, the discussion about eugenics and where it has gone thus far, in my humanities class today, we watched a video that I have seen before, from the Genographic project, something that my dad has taken part in and something I would take part in if I could afford to. Unfortunately the whole eating and not living in a box thing makes that impossible at the moment. But be assured, I am going to get around to blogging about it, in relation to our discussion on eugenics. I actually have had the video from today in mind since this conversation came up again.

Oh, and I am also hoping to get back into talking about talking to our kids about drugs. And sex. And other dangerous things. Keeping in mind that mine are one and seven and that we started the discussion with the seven year old, three years ago (albeit in a very general fashion). If this is an interest to anyone, please feel free to pressure me to hit on it sooner than later....


Ambivalent Academic said...

I would be careful about posting the actual text of your papers (they're assignments, right?), at least until after they've been graded and returned to you.

Lots of universities search the internet for text from student assignments in order to ensure that the assignments aren't plagiarized.

Sure, it's your blog and your assignment and you write both of them. It appears as if you are not blogging pseudonymously so technically this shouldn't be a problem. But you could have a hard time proving that you are the author of both if you had to.

There's also the issue of "getting help" with your assignments from your blog readers if people offer comments on the text that you post. Some profs won't like that.

It may never come up, but like I said, many universities are getting very strict about this.

I think you'll be fine to post assignments after they've been graded, or to write about your ideas for these papers in a paraphrased way on your blog.

Best of luck!

DuWayne Brayton said...

Thanks for the input. I was actually planning on discussing posting papers with my instructor and don't plan on posting until they come back to me.

I also don't figure on actually seeking help from readers, so much as help figuring out the best topic to write about. My big problem is, there are about a million things I want to write about and only two papers. I'm mostly interested in narrowing it down a little.

Juniper Shoemaker said...

AA's right. You should let your professor know you plan to post these papers. The last thing you need is a false accusation of plagiarism upon your momentous return to school!

I don't think posting papers is silly. I think it's a great idea. I am also thinking of posting one or two papers I've written, to improve my woefully adrift Method and Theory series. I'm all in favor of posting well-crafted content. (Not that you haven't done so already.) Especially in science blogging, because I notice it steadily (if slowly) improves my ability to write analytically.

Posting papers to your blog, too, has the potential to help keep you academically engaged when times get rough.

JLK said...

You should definitely let your professor know you're posting them.

But honestly, considering the qualifications and experience of your blog readers, you could possibly get some really great feedback on them if you post it before submitting it for grading. Considering how important peer review is (I have had to do it in every single English and writing class I have ever taken) what difference does it make if you're getting feedback from scientists or fellow undergrads? It's not like we'd be writing the papers FOR you.

As for a topic, why not do a paper on the genetics of predisposition for addiction? I find fascinating the idea that there is a gene for addiction that may or may not get "turned on" depending on environmental and experiential factors in a person's life. You could add in the eugenics component as well, depending on how long the paper needs to be.

kehrsam said...

I think JLK's suggestion is great, because, after all, this is a research course, and there's great developing research in that field, some of which you may well already have read as it matches several of your interests. Actually that is a very ambitious topic for undergrad work.

Brevity is a virtue only when you are not sacrificing quality. I tend to shorten things by leaving out steps in my argument. That is not so good, but fortunately my current line of work (tax law) makes it difficult to skip steps.