Researching Techniques from a Microbiologist .
"We are expected to have read every single research paper that has ever been written on the topic that we are researching," a difficult task for Whitney Amyot. She is a microbiologist and when writing, whether it be a research paper or her honors thesis, a great amount of research is involved. This is mainly what her profession involves; reading, researching, experimenting and then writing. I interviewed Whitney to find out how she manages the research aspect of the writing process because the research before a major paper can be a daunting task and it is helpful to see how a professional accomplishes it.
When Whitney first gets her assignment, whether it be studying bacterial conjugation or mobile sequences or DNA called transposons, she typically has the same researching process each time. She starts off with a "literature search", which in her field means anything and everything relating to her topic in scientific journals. This is where she looks up every article ever written on her general subject and reads them all. Usually each article references other articles as well, so she must look those up and read those too. "A typical article will have 40 to 140 sources cited, so organization is key," explains Whitney. And because articles are published on line the second they go to print, new articles come out every day or two. When asked how she keeps herself organized, Whitney stated, "Most researchers will have hundreds of files and folders.and often we just resort to piles all over the floor." Like most writers, she also has things organized in outline fashion, with big topics and each little subcategory. As she writes she realizes more and more subcategories that she might need to explain, " because so much of biology is tied to other stuff; so its important to look at it from different perspectives and most importantly show the significance of your research.