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“If you are going to write it, write it right.” Some thoughts about writing as an engineering process for the 2001 SIGCSE doctoral consortium. Fintan Culwi.

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Presentation on theme: "“If you are going to write it, write it right.” Some thoughts about writing as an engineering process for the 2001 SIGCSE doctoral consortium. Fintan Culwi."— Presentation transcript:

1 “If you are going to write it, write it right.” Some thoughts about writing as an engineering process for the 2001 SIGCSE doctoral consortium. Fintan Culwi n SBU London

2 In the past year I have refused to be invited to examine a PhD on the grounds that the sample sent me was almost unintelligible... I have also (tried to) read a PhD thesis which contained little of any value and which was very poorly written... Of course this may be a UK thing!

3 Read the sample given and mark in red: any technical terms introduced without explanation any rhetorical flourishes any hyperbole any incomplete or incomprehensible sentences any changes in voice, style, tense, etc. any redundant phrases any unsupported claims any jumps in argument any overloaded terms any concepts elaborated before introduction anything else that seems wrong

4 The first and most fundamental rule of writing is to know who you are writing for and to write with a suitable style. Writing is an engineering process

5 Engineering is the production of an artefact with regard to the resources available, the costs and time scale involved whilst ensuring fitness for purpose. Writing is an engineering process

6 Which requires production planning and process management. How many chapters? How many iterations of each chapter? Who decided when a quality threshold has been reached? How is a chapter signed off? What is being said in each chapter? In each section? Writing is an engineering process

7 Your word processor is not your only tool

8 Keep your sentences short (average words) Keep your paragraphs short (average 5 sentences) Active or passive - but be consistent Personal or impersonal - but be consistent Less is more - cut out useless words Positive rather than negative Item lists rather than sentence lists tell them way you are about to say! tell them what you want to say! tell them way you have said! Some fundamental rules! The most important thing about rules is to know when and how to break them!


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