Data Mining Applications in Medical Informatics

Report
Improving Your
Technical Writing Skills
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?
Writing
Other
Work
36%
1
Pneena 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
22%
Other Oral
Discussions
32%
10%
Oral
Presentations
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
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?
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
What are the main writing skills?
Synthesize
Findings
Style
Develop Convincing,
High-Level
Persuasive Arguments
Effective Data
Presentation
Organization
Referencing
Punctuation
Grammar
Spelling
Low-Level
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’
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
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
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 setup and metrics used to evaluate your
solution against previous work
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
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)
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
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/researchande
valuation/PDFs/28YalvacSmithTroyHir.pdf

http://ecow.engr.wisc.edu/cgibin/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

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