After reading the book Six Degrees by Mark Lynas and based on my previous research on climate, I knew that I wanted to tackle an issue on human environment impact. Not how climate change will affect our situation in the future, but how we are currently changing the environment around us, and what we can do to prevent the Earth from reaching its tipping point. I started doing research on how humans are affecting the environment ranging from impacts on biodiversity to carbon emissions. While I did find all sorts of interesting articles and websites (you can check out some links here), I realized that I was about to bite off way more than I could chew.
With some advice from my professor, I decided to narrow my topic down and after writing my research proposal, reading recent news articles, and thinking at length about what types of topics interested me, I finally decided on overfishing. This was a long process and took several steps of narrowing down my ideas until I arrived at this point. This development was definitely a learning experience, and I now have a better idea of how specific a topic should be in order to pursue it to its fullest over the course of several pages.
Having refined my topic to a more manageable size, I began an extensive research period looking at a combination of news outlets, scientific journals, and government publications. I learned what was currently being done to limit overfishing, the effectiveness of those systems and what other options are being considered. After reviewing this research, it all seemed to point me in a single direction; that is, preventing overfishing had to be taken back to the source, the consumers and the industries driving the fishing market. The basic economic principles of supply and demand became the cornerstone of my argument.
I organized my research into different categories to ensure that I had all opinions on the matter represented. The next step was to create the basic outline of my paper. The intended audience for my essay was people who may be familiar with overfishing, but not the most informed on current issues and solutions. I organized my paper to follow the most logical progressions for the reader. The first few pages provides all the necessary background information in case there are some holes in their knowledge. From there, I discuss current government regulations and other “sustainable” methods, how these systems don’t quite reach the bar, and what options I found in my research that were better suited to decreasing overfishing.
With this knowledge in hand, I tackled my rough draft, mixing in statistics with scientific information, providing examples and even an analogy woven throughout the paper. There were a few technical issues with my draft such as the distribution of my paragraphs, use of passive voice, and wordy sentences. I reviewed my paper looking over one sentence at a time to see how it may be improved, and re-read the paper as a whole to better space out my paragraphs and make it more accessible to a reader. I reviewed the tone of my paragraphs as I read to make sure it matched with the issue I was discussing, and that it was most inspiring for the reader.