Research Writer Interview With Richard
Geologist And Environmental Scientist
What makes academic style writing enjoyable for you?
The structure of academic writing actually makes it quite a bit easier than fiction, at least for me. As an analogy, when I paint a room, the success lies in the preparation, the taping, the sanding and making sure that everything is covered as it should be. The actual painting is the easy part. In the same way, while the research can be strenuous, the actual writing is usually straightforward.
From a completely different perspective, I enjoy stretching my knowledge base and I enjoy reading. The combination is a natural fit for academic writing. I get the chance to explore a new topic and can provide a service at the same time.
Where do you write? What is the physical setup?
There is a scene I recall from a Sherlock Holmes novel in which his housekeeper dusted his apartment. When he returned, he was quite angry with her because he used the depth of the dust on various items to know how long they had been sitting in a particular place. She had basically wiped out his hard drive. My physical writing space is a far cry from that method, but I do not mind a certain amount of chaos as I tend to work on many projects simultaneously, so I keep the resources opened and available. When I am writing assignments, my most important tool is my reliable paper calendar that ensures I am aware of deadlines.
I also keep my guitars nearby which allows me to take periodic breaks and flip on the recorder to capture a little burst of musical expression. In addition, I am one of those people that must have a background distraction. As a result, I generally leave my little television running in the background.
With what topics are you particularly comfortable?
Without question, my foundation is science and technology. I have been a professional scientist for over twenty-five years, working as a geologist and environmental scientist. Concurrently, I have maintained a strong interest in emerging technologies. As a result of this foundation, I have kept abreast of almost all emerging technologies, ranging from the "mundane," for example radio frequency identification tags, to the extraordinary such as bioengineering and nanotechnology. However, as my career has progressed, I have also had the opportunity to observe how technology interacts with organizations and society. This interest has provided me an avenue to study organizational management, social networks, human-computer interfacing and a plethora of other related, and not-so-related topics. In the not-so-related category, my interests range from the impacts of religion on society to the ethics of building androids.
It might be worthwhile to provide a list of topics with which I am not as comfortable. Because I grew up reading science fiction, I do not have a good grasp of literary topics such as classic novels. I am marginally comfortable with historical topics, although I enjoy gaining the new insights afforded by developing a document on such a topic.
What has prepared you for this type of work?
For most of my professional career, I have been involved with the development of documents and presentations to present technical material to a variety of audiences. In 2004 and 2005, I returned to school and earned my Masters degree online. The online environment requires copious amounts of both academic and conversational writing. For eighteen months, I produced at least fifteen pages of academic writing each week.
I will also confess that I really enjoy writing. A colleague once described me by saying, "Why use fifty words when five hundred will do!" The opportunity to combine something I enjoy doing with the opportunity to expand my knowledge base, and of course, the opportunity to be rewarded for those efforts seems like a mutually beneficial path for all.
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