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Writing the Final Draft
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Remember, this is the manuscript, not the camera-ready copy. To make it
easier for your advisor to review and comment on your paper, the manuscript
should be one column, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, in a type size
that won't cause eye-strain (12 point is OK).
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Both these audiences are "well-educated." BUT!!! That does not give
you license to use every highfalutin' word you know. Impress your readers
with content, not verbiage!
Fellow graduate students in Computer Science. May not have completed the
MS degree yet, but have taken at least the basic courses. For example,
if your paper is about software, you can assume your readers have taken
Software Engineering I. They probably know a bit about your general topic,
but probably don't know much about the specific problem you're investigating.
The conference is open to the public, and anyone who wants to can buy the
proceedings, so there could be several different groups here. One is obviously
Rensselaer at Hartford's Computer Science faculty. Others might include
managers, engineers, or others who work in MIS or in the computer industry.
Helpful Questions to Ask Yourself:
Now, use your answers to these questions as a guide for making your paper
meet their needs.
What are the audiences' reason(s) for reading your paper? Curiosity? Solving
a problem at work? Ideas for their own research? Something else?
What Computer Science courses have they probably taken?
What do they probably know about your specific topic? Consider jotting
down a two-column list -- in column 1, write down the concepts, terms,
and issues the audience knows about; in column 2 write down the things
they don't know about. What does your list suggest to you about what you
do and don't need to explain?
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Style and Readability
The Most Important Point: Write to express, not to impress! In other
words, write to tell your readers about your ideas. As it says in the "Audiences"
section, impress your readers with interesting, original, well-reasoned
content, not pretentious, unnecessary verbiage!
"Good scientific writing is logical, clear, precise, direct, and concise....The
language used should be as simple as is compatible with the subject and
as concise as is compatible with ready understanding. An extremely terse
style, which can be cryptic, is as much a barrier to communication as is
verbosity." (ANSI Standard on Technical Reports and Presentations, No,
Z39.16-1979, Section 6, "Principles of Style")
See also some of the books and on-line references on the "References
& Resources" page.
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Tips on Organizing the Paper
A very useful guide to organizing a technical paper can be found in an
article by Clifford B. Fedler and James M. Gregory. The article is "The
Information Matrix: Taking the Trouble Out of Technical Writing," published
in Engineering Education, December 1988, pages 183 - 185. What follows
is a brief overview of their advice, adapted for the Seminar paper. For
more detail, see the original article, in the Rensselaer at Hartford Library.
Summary of Fedler and Gregory's article
Adapting their advice to your Seminar paper
1. Summary of Fedler and Gregory's article
NOTE: The article is summarized here with permission of the authors.
Fedler and Gregory break up technical papers into nine blocks of information:
title, abstract, introduction, purpose, development, results, conclusions,
summary, and references. They then arrange these blocks in a 3
X 3 matrix (shown here). The arrangement helps you see two key things:
Three basic objectives for technical papers, and how to use the information
blocks to achieve those objectives:
Capture the reader's attention: title, abstract, and introduction
Present the body of your work: purpose, development, and results
Summarize material readers may use or cite, and credit the sources used:
conclusions, summary, references
Three basic ways to check your paper for coherence and organization:
Do conclusions reveal that the purpose was achieved?
Did you tell the story three times, three different ways? (a.k.a. "Tell
'em what you're gonna tell 'em; tell 'em; tell 'em what you told 'em.")
How do your results fit in with other references or the overall problem?
reveal that the purpose was achieved?
||Did you tell the
story three times, three different ways?
||How do your results
fit in with other references or the overall problem?
|Capture the reader's attention.
Use a few key words and a key thought.
Present an overview of the work.
Tell the reader the subject. What will be learned from the paper? How
does it relate to other work in the field?
|Present the foundation the body
of the paper.
Tell why you did the work. Were you answering a question? Solving a
Discuss the procedure, experimental plan, or theoretical development.
Explain what you did and how it affects present conditions.
|Summarize material readers may cite and
works you used.
Explain what the reader should learn from the work. Did you answer the
question, or solve the problem?
Enhance the reader's memory by reviewing the work
Cite only references used in the text. Use consistent, standard format.
2. Adapting their advice to your Seminar paper
You may find that your paper doesn't fit neatly into the nine blocks specified
by Fedler and Gregory. That's OK. Your paper doesn't have to have nine
sections, labeled to match the matrix. Many students have found it helpful
to combine some of the related sections. Some of the common ways students
have adapted the matrix to suit their papers include:
A typical structure might then be:
Including the statement of purpose in the introduction
Using the conclusion to summarize the work as well as state the conclusions
Combining the results and conclusions into one section
Notice that although the paper doesn't have nine sections, the nine things
identified in the matrix are still included, so that the paper still does
all the things it should do.
Introduction, which includes an explanation of the purpose
Development (or Discussion)
Conclusions, which summarizes the work as well as states the conclusions
Results and Conclusions, which combines the results, conclusions and
summary of the work
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Copyright © 1997, Kathleen L. Farrell
First Release: March 20, 1997