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My Degree & Skills

Activity One Feedback

Activity One: My Process Feedback

Here's your process for writing a paper! You have probably never thought in-depth about all of the discrete things that you are doing as part of writing a paper before. Often, in the academic context, all that counts is the paper at the end, so it can actually be really affirming to look at a list like this one.

Doing this kind of fine-grained analysis of your process can show you a lot about the range of work that you're doing and what goes into something like writing a paper. At the same time, this kind of list can function as data about you and your skills. Specifically, it can give you insight into what aspects of the process are motivating for you or get you stuck.

If you look at the list, with the process broken down like this, you will realize you gravitate towards some parts, or some parts come easily, while others are consistently challenging for you. Maybe you really enjoy reading papers to see what information, arguments, or theories fit with your idea. Maybe your enjoyment is more about getting your thoughts out in writing. It could also be that you really enjoy editing the paper once it is written, to refine it so the writing is clear and convincing.

The other thing to look at are the components that you frequently procrastinate on. During what parts of the writing process do you find yourself cleaning up your workspace for the fourth time or baking five dozen cookies because you're just not feeling motivated?

Analyzing these tasks as data about yourself will point you towards skills you have, because it is these specific behaviours that serve as evidence for particular skills. Just like in research, it's important to back up your claims ("I have skill X") with concrete evidence ("I did Y successfully/efficiently/effectively"). And think about it – this is just one task that you do frequently that we've broken down, but you do so much work as a graduate student that is worth thinking about in a process, rather than only in a product-oriented way.

University of Waterloo

Centre for Career Development