Progress Not Perfection: Dr. Jay Smart Talks Writing & Researching During COVID

The research team at Miami’s Smart Postural Control and Coordination Lab (SPoCC) consists of about a dozen students, ranging from dissertating graduate students to undergraduate assistants. Together they investigate questions regarding the regulation of perception and action in different situations, like how can postural motion predict motion sickness? It’s hands-on, data-driven work. Which means it’s work that got harder to coordinate during this time of Covid-19 and social distancing.

Dr. Jay Smart, associate professor of psychology and an alum of the Howe Faculty Writing Fellows program, directs the lab. He found that while the pandemic may have limited the team’s ability to experiment, it also afforded them an opportunity to focus on writing.

In the video below, adapted from a workshop he led for the Howe Center for Writing Excellence (HCWE) earlier this month, Smart shares the guiding principles and operational processes that have kept his lab writing and publishing (7 new articles since 2020). The goal, Smart says, is to establish a writing environment geared toward progress, not perfection. He details the merits of a social and recursive approach to writing, offers procedural best practices for collaborative writing online, and breaks down the research report form into clear, discrete steps.

Those who run labs themselves or teach in the sciences may have particular interest in what Dr. Smart has to say, but his methods are a wonderful model for all teachers of writing, regardless of discipline.