Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: writing process

Writing Process

In the past, I have written many papers of similar magnitude for purposes varying from competing for an award to a research paper. However, this is the first time I have written a paper of this magnitude with the purpose of informing and persuading the everyday citizen, or college student of something which they should be doing. With that, one of the biggest challenges was getting the tone of the paper correct. Most of my writing prior to this course was extremely formal and/or technical, and so it has been interesting finding the right balance in dropping a slight amount of the formality in the paper while keeping it at the level of an academic paper.

I have a fairly routine process I like to take when writing longer papers, and it is the process I went with to write this one. After choosing my topic, the very first thing which I do is to look for resources which I can use to learn more about the topic and for references to cite in my paper. After I've got a few of these, I outline the paper with a general layout of what I plan on doing, and in what order. My topic is multi-factor authentication. After an intro, I give some background on multi-factor authentication and all of the types of "factors" one can use. Then I discuss why not implementing multi-factor authentication can be harmful by making it significantly easier for hackers to break into your accounts. Next, I go through each of the main additional factors to passwords which college students can/should implement doing a cost-benefit analysis on each one. What I did once I initially sat down to write the paper was get a good start on each of these main sections to the paper. After that, I just go back and fill each section in until complete, which is my current stage in the writing process.

The most enjoyable part of the writing process for me has always been outlining. I love the imagining at the beginning, thinking of all the different ways one could go about writing the paper, and then choosing one and figuring out how to best implement it.

The Path to Online Voting

I've only recently begun working on my paper, but it has proved to be much more interesting than I originally anticipated. Online voting is such a relevant and current issue, as it very well could be widely instituted in the near future, and it has such large implications. It is basically a distillation of the security vs. privacy debate, throwing in the issue of trust in government. My research has mostly consisted of Google Scholar and the Vanderbilt databases, which are far more helpful than any resources I used in high school. I was surprised that when I search a topic in google scholar, if Vanderbilt has access to it, a link appears on the side of the search results page, which has really streamlined the research process.

The most challenging part of the process thus far has been sifting through all of the information, as there is much more of it than I expected. I'm trying to read sources on all sides of the issue - both pro-online-voting and anti-online-voting - and it's just a lot to take in. Also, a lot of the studies and information I'm finding is from the 2004 to 2008 period, which, while not completely outdated, also aren't completely current in the world of technology. Since online voting still hasn't become a widespread American practice, however, the research and arguments still seem to apply well to the current situation.

I'm currently in the drafting stage, pulling all of the information together. It's a bit difficult to synthesize all the material, but the actual writing is always my favorite part of the process - figuring out which arrangements work, and what words feel right. My topic has definitely pulled me in, and I'm excited to continue exploring the nuances of the issue.

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