It’s not science until you write it down: Starting the New Year with Clarity

Happy New Year from one of the most beautiful countries in the world!

I’m starting off the new year back in Rwanda. For those of you who have been following along, I travelled to Rwanda last January as well to begin a project related to my research. For lots of reasons that can be summed up as “international research” the project was delayed for a year, and now I’m back to try again.

Many things have changed over the last year regarding this project. Simply put, I have more responsibility this time. I am thrilled to be trusted with so much and terrified of messing things up.

I remember the following quote:

You never rise to the occasion. You sink to your lowest level of training.

With that in mind, I’ve been training like crazy getting the procedures and equipment ready. Though I’ve worked with this equipment previously (in India) and been trained since undergrad, I’ve come to realize something important: none of that matters unless it’s written down.

It doesn’t matter that I can do all of the procedures. What matters is that I train others to do them just as well. What matters is creating standards and references and training materials. What matters is passing my knowledge along so that others can achieve results. This is called reproducibility, and clear writing is key.

One of my perpetual goals is to communicate more clearly in writing and when speaking. This trip to Rwanda will force me to communicate in plain English (and perhaps garbled French) what I want and need. It also strengthens my written communication with friends and family back home since I cannot call them.

Happy New Year everyone. The ball is about to drop in NYC. Here is to a clear 2013!

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