The technical writing process

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  • Defining an unsolved problem determines what kind of literature search is appropriate, and performing a literature search helps define an unsolved problem
  • The technical writing process

    1. 1. THE  TECHNICAL  WRITING  PROCESS  NAVIN  CHARI  DALHOUSIE  WRITING  CENTRE  
    2. 2. Stages  in  Research  §  Iden>fy  your  topic  of  interest  §  Perform  a  literature  review  §  Generate  related  ques>ons  §  State  your  unsolved  problem  or  hypothesis  §  Find  or  develop  a  solu>on  §  Document  your  results  
    3. 3. Thesis  Guidelines   §  Abstract   §  Introduc>on  (Objec>ve  &  Mo>va>on)   §  Literature  Review   §  Materials/Methods   §  Results  &  Discussion   §  Conclusions  &  Future  Work   §  References   This  presenta>on  will  focus  on  the  three  sec>ons  in  bold.  
    4. 4. ABSTRACT  WRITING  
    5. 5. Abstract:  Mo>va>on  §  Why  do  we  care  about  the  Problem  and  the  Results?     §  Importance  of  your  Work   §  Difficulty  of  the  Area   §  Impact  if  Successful  §  Helps  to  make  the  problem  more  interes>ng  
    6. 6. Abstract:  Problem  Statement  §  What  problem  are  you  trying  to  solve?    §  What  is  the  scope  of  your  work?   §  Generalized  approach,  or  for  a  specific  situa>on  §  Be  careful  not  to  use  too  much  jargon  §  Put  the  problem  statement  before  the  mo>va>on   §  Only  if  audience  understand  the  problem’s  importance  
    7. 7. Abstract:  Approach  §  How  did  you  solve  or  progress  on  the  problem?    §  Did  you  use  simula>on,  analy>c  models,  solid  models,   FEA,  prototype  construc>on,  etc.?  §  What  was  the  extent  of  your  work?  §  What  important  variables  did  you  control,  ignore,  or   measure?  
    8. 8. Abstract:  Results  §  Whats  the  answer?    §  percent  faster,  cheaper,  smaller,  or  otherwise  be]er   than  something  else.    §  Put  the  result  there,  in  numbers.    §  Avoid  vague,  hand-­‐waving  results  such  as  "very",   "small",  or  "significant."  
    9. 9. Abstract:  Conclusions  §  What  are  the  implica>ons  of  your  answer?   §  Is  it  going  to  change  the  world    §  Are  your  results  general,  poten>ally  generalizable,  or   specific  to  a  par>cular  case?  
    10. 10. LITERATURE  REVIEW  
    11. 11. Lit  Review:  Importance  §  Provides  background  regarding  your  own  research  §  Shows  your  familiarity  with  research  in  your  field  §  Demonstrates  how  your  work  contributes  in  your   field’s  knowledge  base  
    12. 12. Lit  Review:  Outcomes  §  Recogni>on  of  the  relevant  and  important  research  in   your  field  §  Understanding  this  research,  by  organizing  and   evalua>ng  it  §  Seeing  where  there  is  a  gap  in  the  research  which   your  study  will  a]empt  to  fill  
    13. 13. Lit  Review:  Steps  §  Finding  Sources  §  Synthesizing  Informa>on    §  The  literature  review  is  both  a  step  and  an  itera>ve   feedback  loop  -­‐  Defining  an  unsolved  problem   determines  what  kind  of  literature  search  is   appropriate,  and  performing  a  literature  search  helps   define  an  unsolved  problem    
    14. 14. Lit  Review:  Tasks  §  Brainstorming:  What  informa>on  you  will  need  §  Researching:  Where  to  get  your  hands  on  it  §  Developing  a  tracking  method  to  maintain  a  complete   record  of  all  of  the  informa>on  and  their  sources  §  Construct  a  list  of  experts  in  your  field  
    15. 15. Lit  Review:  Wri>ng  &  Summarizing  §  Become  familiar  with  the  geography  of  the  source  §  Locate    the    point  of  the  argument  §  Iden>fy  key  subpoints  §  Iden>fy  key  themes  §  Skim  paragraphs  
    16. 16. Lit  Review:  Condensing  Research  §  Do  not  write  everything  down  §  Create  your  own    shortcuts  and  shorthand  §  Use  numbers  for  numerical  terms  §  Leave  out  vowels  when  you  can  §  Record  all  vital  names,  dates,  and  defini>ons  §  Mark  items  that  need  further  examina>on  §  Check  accuracy  before  returning  or  filing  the  source  
    17. 17. Lit  Review:  Summariza>on  §  Analyze  Accurately  and  Cri>cally  §  Present  an  overview  of  what    your    source    offers   §  Topic,  research  problem,  resolu>on,  and  arguments  §  Counterproduc>ve  to  try  to  read  everything  in  detail   §  Focus  on  the  abstract,  introduc>on,  and  conclusion  sec>ons     of  each  source  document    §  Categorize  and  understand  what  sources  you  have   and  what  might  s>ll  be  missing  
    18. 18. REFERENCING  
    19. 19. Cita>ons  §  Common  Styles  in  Engineering  Include:   §  APA  (Author,  Year)   §  h]p://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/   §  IEEE  [Footnotes]   §  h]p://www.ieee.org/documents/ieeecita>onref.pdf  

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