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Technical Writing and Presentation Margaret J. Kupferle, PhD, PE Summer REU May 21, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Technical Writing and Presentation Margaret J. Kupferle, PhD, PE Summer REU May 21, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Technical Writing and Presentation Margaret J. Kupferle, PhD, PE Summer REU May 21, 2013

2 Think of your research as part of a world-wide conversation among scientific peers...

3 Your reports, peer-reviewed journal manuscripts, oral presentations and posters are your turn to contribute to the conversation!

4 Preplanning Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Audience? Purpose of author/speaker? Venue? Deadlines? Placement? Gain to audience? Format? Length?

5 Spend more time prewriting and rewriting Collect, synthesize, organize info Brainstorm take home messages Work out ideas away from computer Write complete sentences in order at computer Read your work out loud Get rid of clutter Do a verb check Get feedback from others Adapted from ideas at OJITpO3aEdM&feature=related, OJITpO3aEdM&feature=related accessed June 11, 2012 [1] [2] [3]

6 The 4-S Formula Short Simple Strong Sincere

7 Technical Writing Basics Be clear by using precise language Avoid long sentences Keep verb tenses consistent Define terms Present facts or inferences, not feelings Maintain a professional tone

8 Sentence-level tips Use active voice Choose strong (and specific) verbs Avoid turning verbs into nouns Place main verb where it is easily identified Cut unnecessary words Avoid jargon and abbreviations

9 Use active voice* PASSIVE The apple was pierced by the arrow. Mistakes were made. Data quality was improved by the new technique. ACTIVE The arrow pierced the apple. The technician made mistakes. The new technique improved data quality.

10 Use strong and specific verbs... I went to the store. The house was on fire. Goliath was much taller than David. He did not pass the math exam. She did not remember to lock the door. I drove to the store Flames erupted from the kitchen window. Goliath towered over David. He failed the math exam. She forgot to lock the door.

11 Avoid turning verbs into nouns Carbon capacity reductions for phenol adsorption occur when natural organic matter is in competition with it. Natural organic matter may compete with phenol and reduce carbon capacity for adsorbing phenol.

12 Place main verb where it is easily identified Because of the great diversity of pathogenic microorganisms transmitted by contaminated water and the difficulty and cost of directly measuring all microbial pathogens in environmental samples, organisms that may indicate the presence of sewage and fecal contamination (indicator organisms) are often used for monitoring and regulation of recreational and drinking waters. Can your team do better?

13 Cut unnecessary words

14 “This paper provides a review of the basic tenets of cancer biology study design, using as examples studies that illustrate the methodologic challenges or that demonstrate successful solutions to the difficulties inherent in biological research.” Adapted from, accessed June 11, 2012 Can your team do better?

15 Avoid jargon and acronyms

16 Paragraph-scale tips Communicate one central idea per paragraph Tell the reader the “punch line” early Improve paragraph flow with: Logical flow of ideas Parallel sentence structure Transition words (when absolutely necessary)

17 Try Sorting It Out... See what your team can do with the following paragraph: “Enormous mining companies are both continuing operations at old gold mines, such as the case of the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota, which has operated continuously since 1877 and is continuing to increase its operations [Hinds and Trautman, 1983], and opening new gold mines, often in very disturbing locations, such as the proposed, and for now, postponed, New World Mine, whose proposed location was about 2.5 miles from the border of Yellowstone National Park, near Cooke City, Montana.” #7 at, Accessed June 5, 2012

18 Be consistent in your use of capitals, captions, units, and scale of graphs. Fig. 1 – CV for 0.04 mM NaCl + Phenol Figure 2. CV for phenol at 0.05 mM NaCl How many things can you find to fix?

19 Cite your sources in the text carefully and use quotes when appropriate – avoid plagiarism*. * See for complete discussion of plagarism Rathbun (1936) and Hechtman and Johnston (1947) suggest... Kishi and Chen (1986, 1987a, 1987b) found... There are a number of finite element models (Kishi and Chen 1998, Desai 1990, Desai et al. 1995, Zaman et al. 1998) suggested in the literature. - adapted from your handout

20 General page format : 1 “ borders around text Single Line Spacing for All Titles Use double line spacing for text. This makes it easier to read and edit. page number in footer center 9

21 Specific formatting requirements for your reports are spelled out in your guidelines handout.

22 Title Slide Project Title, Team Members & Affiliations, Date Introduction One or more slides introducing problem and stating project goals Tasks A few slides describing the tasks you plan to accomplish Methods A few slides explaining basics of experimental methods General Presentation Format Results Slides of data; graphical or embedded video format preferred Conclusions One or more slides concisely summarizing important conclusions Relevance One slide summarizing relevance of findings to audience Timelin e One slide with a chart showing schedule for tasks

23 Assertion-evidence slides are more effective than bullet lists for making key points*... Bullet ListAssertion-Evidence Example from, accessed June 6, 2012 *especially for intro, background and results slides vs.

24 Providing Access to Clean Water in Urban Centers Relying on Water Reuse Lisa Jones, Biomedical Engineering, University of Cincinnati Susan Smith, Civil Engineering, University of Cincinnati James Turner, Environmental Engineering, University of Cincinnati May 24, 2013 EXAMPLE

25 Project Timeline Task/Week12345678 Learn methods Prepare samples Analyze samples Prepare reports EXAMPLE

26 Resources (other than handouts) Effective Scientific Writing -- Manuscripts and Grants Write Well and Prosper - Science Writing Tips Americal Chemical Society ACS Webinars™ Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students

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