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Tips for Improving Technical Writing

Tips for Improving Technical Writing

 

Organization of Technical Papers
1. Paper Introduction:
Always have an introduction which introduces what topics the paper will be covering. 

 

2. Section Summaries: Always include a short summary statement of what you covered for each major section of your paper.This provides a smooth transition to the next section of the paper.  

 

3. Paragraph transition statements: When moving to a new thought in a new paragraph make sure last sentence of previous paragraph makes a transition possible to a new thought. 

 

4. Paper Conclusion: Always have a conclusion which summarizes the main points on each of the topics covered in the paper and lists the conclusions the reader can walk away with after reading this paper  In your conclusion but try to avoid saying the redundant comment such as: Conclusions, which can be drawn as in the following sample conclusion section.

Example: In this paper we reviewed the psychoanalytic and neo-analytic theories and their coverage of the acting-out personality trait of low self-esteem Conclusions which can be drawn from this are that both theorists would support the concept of the acting out trait and be able to intertwine it in their own works. In the end, each theorist would explain it to something that had happen in the person’s childhood that had affected them in order to end up with a acting out trait and through therapy the answer would find its way out.

Edited: In this paper we reviewed the psychoanalytic and neo-analytic theories and their coverage of the acting-out personality trait of low self-esteem. Both theorists supported the concept of the acting out trait, which was easily distilled from their respective theories. Both theorists explained the acting out trait was due to something happening in childhood, which affected people and that through

 

Tone of Technical Papers 

1. Be technical and scientific in your tone: Technical writing needs to be technical not folksy. It is imperative that the tenor and tone of the paper is professional and scientific. You can use I statements but it is preferred to use third person when talking about the facts and data to insure a more professional air in discussing the theoretical approach (s) you researched for your paper.   

 

2. Demonstrate self-assurance and self confidence in your tone used in paper: When writing a research paper it is important that you demonstrate to your audience that you are sure of yourself, confident in the material you are presenting, and not tentative about presenting your research clearly and exactly.   

 

3. Do not use First or Second Person in technical or scientific papers

  • When you open your paper: Do not say: In this paper, we will examine the two theoretical models of Piaget and Allport. Do say: In this paper the theoretical models of Piaget and Allport will be examined. 
  • When explaining a theoretical perspective of a theorist: Do not say: A basic drive according to George Kelly's perspective is that each of us tries to understand the world and we do so in many different ways. or A basic drive according to George Kelly's perspective is that you try to understand the world and you do so in many different ways. Do say: A basic drive according to George Kelly's perspective is that people try to understand the world and they do so in many different ways.
  • When you are stating an opinion and do not use the first or second person always use third person in technical papers. So do not use the statement: I think. Rather state your opinion by saying the opinion. Example: I think that he would agree with the assumption that the two are closely related. I think that Jung would be able to incorporate each of the personality traits of low self-esteem into his psychological types. Edited:  Jung would agree with the assumption that the two are closely related. He would be able to incorporate each of the personality traits of low self-esteem into his psychological types. 

 

4. Do Not Snow: Do not try to “SNOW “your audience with a barrage of words, filler, fluff, and facts. Keep it simple, keep it straight, and keep it appropriate.  

Example: Here is a sample introduction from a paper on Freud & Adler The history of psychology began under the broad subject of philosophy. Ancient philosophers such as Socrates and Aristotle were key players in their field. Not until the late nineteenth century did the science of psychology even exist. The beginning of modern psychology can be credited almost exclusively to one man, Sigmund Freud. With Freud’s idea of psychoanalysis he theoretically drew out an extensive roadmap for others to follow. This is the case of the neo-analytical theorist Alfred Adler. In this paper I will explain both the Freudian and Adlerian approaches to understanding and resolving the low self-esteem personality trait of acting out.  

Edited: Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory was the first complete scientific-like body of work on the development of human personality. The neo-analyst Alfred Adler used Freud’s extensive roadmap to develop his own theory. This paper will explore the Freudian and Adlerian approaches to understanding low self-esteem and the personality trait of acting out.

Requirement for Use of Quotes in Research & Technical Papers

Most technical research papers are expected to contain original quotes from researchers or research relevant to the topic of the paper. Technical research papers assigned by Graduate University Instructors must use quotes from original source texts. This means by the authorities, whose points of view, you are researching. 


Quotes must be presented in the body of the text and immediately referenced by (author, year, page #). In the References section of the paper this original source document but be completely referenced using APA style.
When using a quote, you must use Author's name in the reference only if you did not use the author's name within the sentence in which the quote is used.

Example: Kelly states: "Constructs are the channels in which one's mental processes run. They are two-way streets along which one may travel to reach conclusions. They make it possible to anticipate the changing tides of events." Use: (1955, p.126)

 

Example: "Constructs are the channels in which one's mental processes run. They are two-way streets along which one may travel to reach conclusions. They make it possible to anticipate the changing tides of events. "Do use: (Kelly,1955, p.126). In the Reference section of the paper, the source for this quote would appear as follows: Kelly, G. (1955). The Psychology of Personal Constructs. W.W. Norton & Company, New York. 

In the sentence following the quote go on to explain the meaning of the quote but do not say such things as: This quote means....

Example: This is a quote by Kelly which basically explains how in people's minds they set up systems which they refer to in specific events. Edit: Kelly points out that people set up systems in their mind to which they refer in specific events.


Style of Writing in Technical Papers

1. Keep it Crisp: In writing your research paper you must keep your language simple and crisp. Simple: concisely with out extra verbiage.  Crisp: to the point, not running around the mill to say what you want said.

 

2. Eliminate all Fluff and Fillers Eliminate all fluff, word fillers, and extraneous verbiage from your papers. e.g.: Here is a fluff filled Introduction to a paper followed by a more technical introduction: 
Example: Over the past century, psychology has come a long way. The beginning of modern psychology, however, is credited to Sigmund Freud. Through his analytical techniques and explanations, several newer theorists expanded on Freud’s ideas to create their own hypotheses, such is the case with neo-analyst Karen Horney. Each theorist has his/her own explanations and therapies for individuals with low self-esteem. However, the nine types of personality are not easily paired with Freud’s psychoanalytic theory or Horney’s neo-analytic theory. Therefore, these therapists would focus on key elements of the personality traits that parallel ideas in their own theories. In this paper, both a Freud’s and Horney’s perspective will explain the looking-good personality type. Later, low self-esteem will be discussed in relation to the looking-good personality.  
Edited:  Sigmund Freud and Karen Horney developed theories and therapies related to individuals with low self-esteem. However the nine personality traits of low self-esteem identified by Messina (1999-2001) are not easily paired exactly to either theory.  In this paper, both Freud’s (Psychoanalytic) and Horney’s (Neo-analytic) perspectives will be used to explain the “Looking Good” personality trait of low self-esteem. (See how the third person perspective is used, in this paper… this is technically more correct and sounds professional) 

 

3. Be Sparing in Use of Verbiage: Do not use extra words to start new sections like: To begin, or I will begin this paper by looking at… 
Example:  To begin, the psychoanalytic approach was developed by Sigmund Freud. 
Edited: Sigmund Freud developed the psychoanalytic approach. 

Example:  
First we will look at the psychoanalytic theory of personality  
Edited:  Start your section with the first sentence, which follows this statement.  

 

4. Use Economy of Words Try to use an ECONOMY of WORDS: 
Example:  According to Freud, looking-good people would be fixated in the anal stage. Looking-good individuals are generally passive-aggressive. They dislike personal conflict and will avoid it if possible. Also, people with this personality type tend to be organized, appear to be “together” or “with it,” obstinate and independent, all of which are characteristics of anal fixation. Besides being fixated, looking-good people use defense mechanisms to reduce their anxiety. They commonly use reaction formation, denial, and sublimation. Looking-good individuals reject their feelings of guilt and inadequacy by overemphasizing the opposite in their thoughts and actions. In this case, they will appear happy, calm, and together, but deep down that is hardly the case. They are confused, lonely individuals with no real direction. Denial is the most common of all defense mechanisms, and looking-good people are exceptionally good at it. They simply refuse to acknowledge any anxiety-provoking stimuli. “Everything is coming up roses” for looking-good individuals. Finally, sublimation is probably the most important defense mechanisms next to denial. They delay gratification of the Id’s desires by transforming them into goals of the Ego. In this way, those dangerous desires and needs are now acceptable societal motivations. Looking-good people tend to experience an enormous amount of anxiety, and so develop low self-esteem.  
Edited:  According to Freud, looking-good people would be fixated in the anal stage. Looking-good individuals are generally passive-aggressive. They dislike personal conflict and avoid it. These people tend to be organized, appear to be “together” or “with it,” obstinate and independent, characteristics of anal fixation. Besides being fixated, looking-good people use defense mechanisms to reduce their anxiety. They use reaction 

Edited: Adler believed birth order motivates personality development. People with the looking good personality are typically the first-born in a family. Some of the characteristics of a first-born child similar to the looking good trait are: favored, pseudo-parent, and high achiever. According to Adler, due to their need for approval and high achievement, looking good people possess an aggression drive. This drive would become apparent if they failed at accomplishing their goals. Looking good people are usually very social and in his personality typology, Adler would conclude that they fit the “socially useful” category. This category is sanguine or cheerful with high social interests and activity.


Information, to reject their feelings of guilt and inadequacy by overemphasizing the opposite in their thoughts and actions. They appear happy, calm, and together, but deep down is hardly the case. They are confused, lonely individuals with no real direction. Looking-good people are good at denial by which they refuse to acknowledge any anxiety-provoking stimuli. “Everything is coming up roses” for them. Through sublimation, they delay gratification of the Id’s desires by transforming them into goals of the Ego. In this way, those dangerous desires and needs are now acceptable societal behaviors. 

 

5. Use KISS: Use the KISS principle in your writing
Example: In this statement, Freud is telling us that a person’s ego reacts in situations of pressure due to psychic trauma. 
Edited:  Freud points out that a person’s ego reacts with psychic trauma to pressure situations.  

Example: Birth order is what Adler believes motivates a person’s behavior. Adler would classify someone with a looking good personality as the first born in a family. Some of the characteristics of a first-born child include, favored, pseudo-parent, and high achiever, all distinctions of a looking good personality. Because of a looking good person’s need for approval and high achievement, Adler might say that a looking good person could very well possess an aggression drive. This drive would only become apparent if the individual failed at accomplishing his or her goals. An individual with a looking good personality is usually very social. Adler created a personality typology with four categories a person would fit into. He would conclude that a looking good person fits into the socially useful category. This category is sanguine or cheerful with high social interests and activity.

Pronoun Antecedent Agreement

Watch out for the Agreement Trap: Be sure that your writing does not fall into the trap of pronouns not agreeing in number with their antecedent noun  
Example: Freud would probably say that the child’s low self-esteem began to express itself in the anal stage, through their desire to control things such as defecation. As the pulling-personality grows older, their desire to exercise control is shown through their self-reliant, withdrawn nature. This person does not allow themselves to be known, or be vulnerable, and in this way this person feels that they have control over their surroundings.
Edited:
Freud would probably say that people, with the pulling-personality, had their low self-esteem begin to express itself in the anal stage, through their desire to control things such as defecation. As they grew older, their desire to exercise control was shown through their self-reliant and withdrawn nature. These people do not allow themselves to be known or to be vulnerable. In this way they feel that they have control over their surroundings and lives.  

 

Rules of Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement
1. A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number and gender. 

Antecedent
Number
Pronouns
The girl
Singular
she, her, her's, herself
The man
Singular
he, him, his, himself
The tree
Singular
it, its, itself
The girls
Plural
they, them, their, theirs, themselves
The men
Plural
they, them, their, theirs, themselves
The trees
Plural
they, them, their, theirs, themselves
People, Clients
Plural
they, them, their, theirs, themselves

 

2. The antecedent is usually not found in a prepositional phrase:
  • The pictures of my family had their titles printed below them.
  • The girl along with her sisters has forgotten her ticket
  • The students in the band have brought their instruments here. 


3. When the antecedent is a noun joined by either-or or neither-nor the noun closest to the pronoun is used as the antecedent for the agreement

  • Either Don or his brothers will have their notes from the class.
  • Neither the children nor the teacher has her answers ready. 

4. When the antecedent is a compound subject (two nouns joined by a coordinating conjunction), the pronoun will be plural. 
  • Jane and Tom own their own home.
  • The cat and dog have not eaten their food.
  • Songs and poetry have their place in education.

5. Phrases such as one of, each of, and either of require a singular pronoun for agreement.
  • One of the girls lost her keys.
  • Every one of the classes has its own schedule.
  • Neither of the men had their bikes stolen.

6. Phrases such as both of and some of usually require plural pronouns for agreement.
  • Some of the students had lost their books.
  • Both of the boys had their bikes stolen.

7. When the antecedent is a collective noun (a noun which is singular in form but refers to a group of people or things), the pronoun must be singular for agreement.
  • The Looking Good personality is a trait of low self-esteem which seeks to place the people in his or her life.
  • The committee planned its meeting for November 10th.
  • The family announced its reunion date.
  • The jury made its decision.

8.  When the antecedent is an indefinite pronoun, the pronoun will be singular.
  • Nobody may take his or her test until Friday.
  • Everybody wanted to grab his share of the candy. 

 

9. Avoid sentences with cluttered pronouns by use of plurals.

  • Cluttered pronouns example: When a person practices what he or she preaches, he or she tends to be somewhat cautious in giving advice.
  • Edited: When people practice what they preach, they tend to be somewhat cautious in giving advice
  • Recommended forms for papers: Clients, People, Groups, Persons, etc..... 
Online Grammar Resources
HYPER GRAMMAR from University Ottawa:
 http://www.uottawa.ca/academic/arts/writcent/hypergrammar/grammar.html 

ONLINE WRITING LAB from Purdue University: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/index.html