1 / 15

Improving Your Technical Writing Skills

Improving Your Technical Writing Skills. R. E. Abdel-Aal COE Department. Some Facts, Quotations. Clear writing is an indication of clear thinking! “In today’s workplace, writing is a ‘threshold skill’ for hiring and promotion among professional employees”

Télécharger la présentation

Improving Your Technical Writing Skills

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author. Content is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only. Download presentation by click this link. While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server. During download, if you can't get a presentation, the file might be deleted by the publisher.


Presentation Transcript

  1. Improving Your Technical Writing Skills R. E. Abdel-Aal COE Department

  2. Some Facts, Quotations • Clear writing is an indication of clear thinking! • “In today’s workplace, writing is a ‘threshold skill’ for hiring and promotion among professional employees” Report, US National Commission on Writing, Sept 2004 • How do fresh US engineers spend their time at work1? Other Work Writing 36% 32% 1Pneena Sageev and Carol J. Romanowski A Message from Recent Engineering Graduates in the Workplace: Results of a Survey on Technical Communication Skills, Journal of Engineering Education, 1 October 2001, pp 685-693 10% 22% Other Oral Discussions Oral Presentations

  3. Contents • Motivation (Why?) • What makes good technical writing? • What are the main writing skills required? • The writing task and process • Typical Structure for Paper/Report • Tips for good writing style • How to improve your writing? • Conclusions • References

  4. Motivation Writing clearly and effectively is essential to an engineer: • Engineers need to communicate results of their work in writing to peers, bosses, and decision makers: Reports, Proposals, Quotations, Request for Quotations, Research Papers, etc. • Lives are often affected not only by the accuracy of an engineer’s work, but also by clear and convincing presentation of his conclusions and recommendations • If you are a decision maker, how would you take spelling/grammar errors in an important engineering report?

  5. What makes good technical writing? • Formal, Direct • Modular, Structured • Focused, Objective • Simple, Coherent • Uses correct theories & terminology • Concise: No padding or redundancy • Consistent • Clarity and Flow • Relevant to the defense of a viewpoint • Shows insight & critical thinking • Aware of audience Original • Contributes to the body of knowledge

  6. What are the main writing skills? Develop Convincing, Persuasive Arguments High-Level Synthesize Findings Effective DataPresentation Organization Style Referencing Low-Level Punctuation Grammar Spelling

  7. The writing task • Wish list:  Productive- Minimum frustration!  Timely  Leads to a final product to be proud of • To achieve this, the task must be:  Focused and Organized  Started early, as many revisions are needed  Adopt a ‘Writing Process’

  8. The Writing Process • Define the topic - clear focus • Collect the data, perform the experiments, etc. • Organize the document: The outline • Write first Draft - writing, writing and writing again ... • Revise: Focusing on higher-order concerns • Proofread: Focusing on lower-order concerns

  9. Typical Structure for Report/Paper • Title: Not too short, Not too long • Abstract: 300 words • Write this at the end • Scope, Motivation, Achievements, Key results, Conclusions • Introduction One paragraph for each of the following: • Background / history • Motivation • Your contributions • Organization of the document

  10. Typical Structure for Report/Paper, Contd. • Background, Theory, Literature Review • Describe background necessary to understand the rest of the document • Previous Related Work • Cite and briefly discuss other related work • Mention how it differs from your work • Mention their limitations, but be polite • Your Approach, Experimental Procedures • Describe your approach • Describe any experimental setupand metricsused to evaluate your solution against previous work

  11. Typical Structure for Report/Paper, Contd. • Results and Discussion • Use graphs and tables to present your results • Refer the graphs / tables in the text… • Describe and discuss your work and ideas, do not just state them • Conclusions/Recommendations • Main conclusions and recommendations derived • Suggestions for possible future work • Acknowledgements • References

  12. Some tips for good writing style- Going beyond spelling and grammar • Write clearly, explicitly, and concisely. Long sentences, ‘delayers’ and ‘distracters’ frustrate readers • Use formal language: e.g. no contractions (couldn't, hasn’t etc.) • Write to get yourself understood: written words need to be chosen more carefully than spoken words • Cut the fat, even one word counts! • Avoid exaggerations and unnecessary qualifiers: (very, basically, actually..) • Avoid clichés: “last but not least?” • Avoid overusing prepositional phrases: the, in, over, of, for, at.. • Ensure clarity: “who did what to whom?” Use active voice

  13. How to improve your writing? • Realize the importance of good writing • Read a lot! and pay attention to others’ writing style • Read critically what you have written before submission • Get others to read what you have written: Feedback, Quality Assurance • Practice good writing in all that you write: emails, letters, etc. • Know your target audience: What they know already, what they expect to know from your document • Know your objective: document?, inform?, persuade?.... • Utilize the plenty of information and help available on the Web (Check the ABET page on the COE Website)

  14. Conclusions • Writing skills are important for a successful career in engineering • Several criterion for good technical writing: Simplicity and clarity • Writing skills span several levels: from spelling to argumentation • Need to employ a writing process and allow adequate time • Typical structures for papers and reports • Guidelines for writing in style • Strategy for improvement • Get convinced and committed and start practicing • There is plenty of helpful resources around

  15. References • The ABET Accreditation page on the COE Website: http://www.ccse.kfupm.edu.sa/coe/abet/abet_accreditation.html • http://dsl.serc.iisc.ernet.in/~haritsa/techwrite.ppt • http://academic.sun.ac.za/taalsentrum/PowerPoint/WritingSkillsMPA.ppt • http://www.depts.ttu.edu/che/classes/che2306/Documents/sageev.pdf • http://www.northwestern.edu/searle/programs_and_research/researchandevaluation/PDFs/28YalvacSmithTroyHir.pdf • http://ecow.engr.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/getbig/cee/949/bank/journalclu/howtowriteagoodtechnicalpaper.pdf • http://www.sussex.ac.uk/engineering/documents/guide_to_technical_report.pdf • http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~anandk/math191/Technical%20Writing.pdf • http://www.soton.ac.uk/~sesg1009/lectures/reportwritingchecklist.pdf • http://www.ivt.ntnu.no/imt/courses/tmr4240/assignments/2008/Assignment_3/technical%20writing.pdf

More Related