Three days in Akumal - TNC Writing Workshop 2012

Overused among budget-strapped universities and research institutes, the term "Publish or Perish" is the mantra of many for success in academia. However, often times local coral reef managers and institutions within the Caribbean are not as bound by the obligation to publish for wider audiences, and opportunities for sharing success stories, lessons learned and research  are lost.  Recognizing this, and with the support of The Nature Conservancy Reef Resilience Programme, for 3 days in December 2013 reef managers, researchers, students and educators, were essentially "nailed" to chairs and "glued" to computers, and aggressively encouraged to write; so that they could share their important work with new audiences, either as a peer reviewed journal publication, blog posts or op-ed pieces. 

I attended the workshop as a coral reef scientist from the Institute of Marine Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago with the intention of generating a publishable manuscript describing the impact of 2010 mass bleaching event on Tobago and the identification vulnerable sites to climate change impacts.  By extension, the techniques learned will be used to publish the other reef research (success stories and lessons learned) currently underway in Tobago, such as the valuation of coral reef ecosystem services, reef vulnerability to climate change impacts and reef connectivity.

For three days, in Akumal, Mexico a team of scientists lead by The Nature Conservancy's Chief Scientist, Peter Kareiva provided rigorous reviews of our would-be manuscripts, as well as one-on-one consultations on the best way forward. Often times scripts were riddled in red and yellow with corrections and comments by each reviewer, but by the end of the process a polished manuscript was in the making. Participants were also separated into groups depending on the nature of their manuscripts, where they reviewed each iteration of the others' evolving material. This was probably the most valuable message for the workshop, by having a group of reviewers among whom your work could be critically assessed before publishing.  Other messages came from Peter, who stressed that we should make our writing might be a good place to start, and the Bobs, stressing time management (I think I'm beyond the help of a Pomodoro)...sorry Bob. This was definitely a great experience for all that attended and more similar workshops should be conducted to build capacity among other coral reef managers. Three weeks later, I was able to submit to a peer reviewed journal, and I'm currently awaiting feedback.

As small note on Mexico from a first time visitor, I appreciate a good taco like everyone else, but why put tacos in soup? And diving in Cozumel was awesome.

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Comment by Jordan Jobe on January 27, 2013 at 2:24pm
This is such a great review of the workshop! I hope that we are able to bring this workshop to other regions, because it sounds like it was a great experience for you and the other participants!


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