By Charlotte Weber,
This last spring, during April 2017 I spent my days at the Center for Policy Modelling at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in the UK. A collaboration with my fellow SAF21 colleague Shaheen Syed is what had brought me there in the first place. He had been working on some interesting research, where he looked into the hidden topics of fisheries publications over the last 26 years with a very advanced computer science method called Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). LDA is a sophisticated machine-learning algorithm that helps you find these hidden topics in the text, which is the underlying idea of an article. While Shaheen was working with that, he came across some topics on modelling, which made him contact me because he knew I was working on models for my PhD. That made us both decide to look a bit further into these models and take a closer look at the topics within these modelling publications. In addition, to make the best use of this research we decided to write a paper together in order to be able to present our results to the scientific community. However, paper writing can be a rather difficult task for some of us. A great paper is about so much more than just the science behind it. It is about how you present it, if you are able to fascinate your reader enough to read it to the end, and if you can make a point of why your research matters. That makes scientific writing an art that is hard to teach and is very unlikely to come naturally to you (unless you are among those few lucky ones). It, therefore, takes a good amount of practice, meaning learning by doing. This is where a little support from your friends can also be of great help: so, off to Manchester I was…
Arrived at MMU, Shaheen and I started drafting and writing our paper together. Luckily, our fellow SAF21ers Luz and Lia happened to just sit across the room. And like I said, there is nothing better than having a team of colleagues around you, who might teach you a thing or two. We all have different strengths and different skills. So I approached Lia, who loves the writing and would prefer to do nothing but that! She was more than happy to read our paper drafts and to give feedback on the text. That helped us majorly to improve our writing, especially if a native English speaker proofreads it for you!
Now, the text is not everything in a scientific paper. You also want to use some graphs and other visualizations to display your results, to make it nicer for the reader and because a picture can say more than 1000 words. That was when our SAF21 colleague Luz came in very handy! Luz is doing her PhD on visualizations, so who better to ask how to best display your results? Luz could help us out with graphics related questions and therefore contributed to improve the figures in our paper.
This paper has now been submitted to a journal and is currently under review. How exciting! Therefore, I want to give a big shout out and say: thank you team MMU, thank you SAF21 and thank you for the privilege of being part of a network that lets you know that you are not alone!