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A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

Cover Image Copyright Year: 2014
Author(s): Berger, R.
Publisher: Wiley-IEEE Press
Content Type : Books & eBooks
Topics: Engineering Profession ;  General Topics for Engineers
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      Front Matter

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.fmatter
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      The prelims comprise:
      Half-Title Page
      Series Page
      Title Page
      Copyright Page
      Dedication Page
      Table of Contents
      A Note from the Series Editor
      Acknowledgments
      Foreword
      Preface View full abstract»

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      Introduction to the Approach

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch1
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      This introductory chapter of the book describes scientific approach to writing for scientists and engineers and provides some suggestions for using the book. Clear written communication can be approached as a set of principles, each of which is substantiated by sound underlying reasons. Some of these principles are stated in the chapter. The intention of the book is to: (1) unveil these principles and others, (2) explain the reasoning behind them, and (3) demonstrate their validity through numerous examples gleaned from technical writing. In the book, the author follows the narrow-to-broad (inductive) approach that is more familiar to scientists and engineers. In this approach to technical writing, the scientist or engineer, whether a practitioner or student, would first develop an ability to write clear sentences before combining sentences to form paragraphs and combing paragraphs to make an argument. View full abstract»

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      Sentences

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.part1
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      No abstract. View full abstract»

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      Qualifiers Used in Sentences

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch2
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter presents some basic definitions with respect to the writing of sentences and set the stage for the initial inquiry: how to add auxiliary ideas to the core idea of a sentence. The introductory clause is called a qualifier because it serves to modify, limit, or explain the original sentence. Minor qualifiers??-??usually adjectives and most prepositional phrases??-??are components of major qualifiers or of the core. In technical writing, qualifiers are used to explain, elaborate, and modify. Most core ideas need to be qualified to be fully understood. When adding qualifiers to a sentence, three factors must be considered: (1) the need for punctuation; (2) the position of the qualifier within the sentence; and (3) the type of qualifier. Each of these factors is briefly discussed in the chapter. View full abstract»

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      Subordinate Clauses Used as Qualifiers

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch3
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      The subordinate clauses typically used as qualifiers in technical writing are of two types: that and which clauses and adverb clauses. This chapter begins by looking at that and which clauses because (1) they are ubiquitous in technical writing; (2) the rule for punctuating that and which clauses can serve as a model for the punctuation of all other qualifiers; and (3) most of the other qualifiers, both clauses and phrases, can be recast as that or which clauses. That and which clauses were qualifiers that modify nouns, adverb clauses are qualifiers that may modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or perhaps the entire core of the sentence. Finally the chapter presents general rule for punctuating the subordinate clauses. View full abstract»

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      Explanatory Phrases, Participle Phrases, and Major Prepositional Phrases

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch4
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      A general rule that is posited for punctuating both types of subordinate clauses: (1) that and which clauses and (2) adverb (and adjective) clauses. This chapter discusses the explanatory phrases, participle phrases, and major prepositional phrases. It then provides examples in the context of where the phrases are likely to appear within a sentence??-??that is, before the core, within the core, and following the core. Eventually, within this structure, the general rule established for subordinate clauses is shown to be applied when these phrases are used as qualifiers. Explanatory phrases are used to restate, define, explain, elaborate, or provide examples for a noun that usually appears immediately before the explanatory phrase. More often than not, participle phrases modify nouns??-??that is, they function as adjectives. Due to their length or their position within the sentence, some prepositional phrases can behave as major qualifiers. View full abstract»

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      Infinitive Phrases, and the General Rule for Punctuating Qualifiers

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch5
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter is concerned with punctuating the last type of phrase qualifier, the infinitive phrase. It presents examples for infinitive phrases in the context of the type of antecedent that is modified by the phrase. For each type of antecedent, the remaining positions of the infinitive phrase??-??inside the core and following the core??-??are represented interchangeably in the examples. The chapter then presents a general rule for punctuating all of the qualifiers, whether clauses or phrases. The chapter establishes that the use of major qualifiers is essential in technical writing, that all qualifiers can be represented as one of six types, and that correctly punctuating qualifiers will enable the reader to avoid any misunderstanding. In order to correctly punctuate qualifiers, the first step is to recognize that one of the six categories of qualifiers is being used. Once recognized, the general rule for punctuating qualifiers should be applied. View full abstract»

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      Sentences with Two Qualifiers

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch6
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter focuses on the use of two qualifiers in a sentence. Two qualifiers can appear in a sentence in seven distinct ways. Seven sentence forms are presented in the chapter. For the first four, the two qualifiers are separated by all or part of the core. For the remainder of the two-qualifier sentence forms, the two qualifiers appear consecutively, either before, after, or within the core. The chapter provides examples for these sentence forms. In all these examples, the following convention will be used to distinguish the two qualifiers in each sentence: the first qualifier will be underlined once and the second qualifier will be underlined twice. When two qualifiers appear consecutively, two possibilities arise: (1) Both consecutive qualifiers modify elements within the core; (2) The second qualifier modifies an element within the first qualifier. Nested qualifiers are a subset of two consecutive qualifiers. View full abstract»

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      Higher Orders of Punctuation

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch7
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      With respect to the punctuation of qualifiers, a comma (or a pair of commas) is used to set off certain types of qualifiers, namely, nonrestrictive qualifiers. Some situations??-??such as when one nonrestrictive qualifier is nested within another nonrestrictive qualifier??-??a higher order of punctuation may be necessary to avoid confusion. There, a dash was used for this purpose. This chapter explores other higher orders of punctuation. There is no need to formulate a rule with respect to the correspondence between type of punctuation and order of punctuation. However, good technical writing maintains a consistency of use within a given document. The chapter presents some examples that illustrate the use of a higher order of punctuation to set off an interior nonrestrictive qualifier that contains a list. For completeness, it presents examples where dashes and/or parentheses may be used as the first order of punctuation, rather than commas. View full abstract»

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      Strategies to Improve Sentences with Qualifiers

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch8
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter demonstrates that there is a limit to the number of qualifiers that can be added to a sentence. It discusses the general rule for multiple qualifiers. It considers some attempts to insert three or more qualifiers in a sentence. Sentences with too many qualifiers can be clarified by breaking such sentences into two or more, with no more than two qualifiers in each sentence. Combining the two sentences may strengthen the relationship between the points made (separately) in the two sentences. The chapter presents some actual examples for which a repositioning of qualifiers??-?? both major and minor qualifiers??-??can provide additional clarity. The examples will be arranged within three categories, each of which suggests a reason for a potential repositioning: (1) to ensure that qualifiers are in close proximity to their antecedents, (2) to achieve closer subject/verb proximity, and (3) to correct wayward prepositional phrases. View full abstract»

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      Lists

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.part2
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      No abstract. View full abstract»

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      Two-Item Lists

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch9
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      The very simplest list is a list with two items, usually separated by the word and. The important thing to know about two-item lists is the principle of equivalence: both items in the list must be of the same form and must relate to the same antecedent, which is the word that introduces the list. This chapter presents some examples to understand the equivalence principle. A two-item list is considered to be in balance when both of the items are distinct and the principle of equivalence is satisfied. An unbalanced two-item list has two items, but one of the items is not distinct. A compound sentence is a two-item list, in which each item is itself a complete sentence, or main clause. When qualifiers are added to compound sentences, the general rule for multiple qualifiers still applies: no more than two major qualifiers in a sentence. View full abstract»

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      Multiple-Item Lists

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch10
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      Technical writing often requires the use of lists that contain more than two items. These lists can range from the very simple to the very complex. A simple list is one that requires only commas to separate its items. When lists contain items that themselves contain commas, including items that themselves contain an embedded list with more than two items, a higher order of punctuation should be used. For such purposes, the semicolon is the punctuation mark of choice. The semicolon also is preferred when each item is a complete sentence. Sometimes, even if semicolons are used, ambiguities can arise when the reader attempts to distinguish the items in a list. In such cases, the items in the list should be numbered, in order to remove any chance of misinterpretation. View full abstract»

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      Strategies for Writing Better Lists

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch11
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      A list is considered to be well written when the principle of equivalence is satisfied and when each of the items can be clearly distinguished by the reader. This chapter presents some methods for meeting these requirements. First, it presents some strategies for restoring equivalence when it is out of kilter. Second, the chapter provides some examples to demonstrate that greater efficiency can be achieved when scattered items are combined into a single list. Next, it demonstrates how to treat two different lists when they correspond with one another. Fourth, the use of colons with lists is discussed. And finally, the chapter presents some circumstances for which a stacked-item list, using bullets or numbers, would be appropriate. View full abstract»

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      Word Choice and Placement

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.part3
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

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      Adjectives and Adverbs

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch12
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter states the general rule for punctuating a string of adjectives and provides examples to flesh out this rule. It introduces adverbs into the string and show how hyphens can be used to more clearly distinguish the adjectives. The chapter then explains what is meant by awkward adjective phrases and shows how to avoid them. Finally it describes how to position adverbs to enhance communication. When adverbs are included within a string of adjectives, it is often useful to introduce a hyphen between the adverb and the adjective that is modified by the adverb. Adverbs typically modify adjectives and verb forms. When used with compound verbs and infinitives, several choices are available when it comes to positioning the adverb. Although the term split infinitive is often used with a negative connotation, the practice of splitting infinites is acceptable in many instances. View full abstract»

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      Precision in Word Usage

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch13
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      Precision in measurement underlies all scientific discoveries. This chapter addresses a number of subjects that appear to present difficulty with respect to precise word usage: articles, reference words, unnecessary words, and redundant words. Articles??-??the, a, an??-??are used to modify some nouns or noun phrases. Two categories of nouns??-??nouns that indicate a condition and nouns that are nebulous??-?? are indefinite in nearly all contexts. Nouns such as feasibility or efficiency indicate a condition (i.e., the condition of being feasible, the condition of being efficient). Nouns such as energy or information are somewhat nebulous??-??that is, they usually stand for an indefinite collection of things. Reference words??-??usually pronouns such as it, its, this, these, those, their??-??are used as shorthand substitutes for other nouns, noun phrases, or ideas. View full abstract»

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      Beyond Sentences

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.part4
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

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      Paragraphs

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch14
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      A paragraph should make a single point. Make the point, and move on to the next paragraph. Restricting paragraphs in this way has another advantage: shorter paragraphs are easier for readers to digest. In technical writing, short paragraphs enable concepts to build gradually, providing readers with opportunities to pause and process new information. The sentences within a paragraph should flow together. This chapter presents examples that demonstrate the use of linking words and transition words to enhance the flow of the sentences within a paragraph. All paragraphs should have topic sentences. The process of forcing topic sentences could lead to awkwardness, an interruption of the flow, or a diversion of time and energy from the preparation of the main argument. To examine the criteria for dividing long paragraphs, the chapter presents a couple of examples. View full abstract»

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      Arguments

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch15
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      To achieve many professional goals, scientists and engineers must provide a logical written argument, in order to convince others of the importance of achieving these goals. This chapter discusses higher levels of argument: combining paragraphs to argue for a premise and combining premises to argue for a thesis. It examines some of the premises that might be used to argue for three types of theses: attaining funding for a research proposal; publishing an article in a journal; and attracting investors to a new enterprise. The chapter presents three examples of arguing for a premise??-??using one premise from each of the three types of theses listed above??-??with attention to the paragraphs that support the premise. In the examples, the chapter identifies the premise, lists the points that support the premise, presents the set of paragraphs that argue for each point, and shows how the premise fits within the larger argument. View full abstract»

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      Justification of Arguments

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch16
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      Most of the sentences written in the documents prepared by scientists and engineers contain one or more claims. A belief in the truth of points of scientists and engineers carries over to a belief in the truth of premises and thesis of scientists and engineers. This chapter shows how to justify claims of scientists and engineers, so that reviewers can be assured that what scientists and engineers say in each of their paragraphs is true. The easiest way to justify a claim is to refer the reader to another source in which the claim already has been validated. The subject of ethics in writing is summarized rather succinctly: tell the truth. The community of scientists and engineers is understood to obey an honor system: it is presumed that what you put down in writing is true. The major advantage and disadvantage of this honor system are summarized in the chapter. View full abstract»

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      Organization and Presentation

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.ch17
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      A well-organized and well-presented paper enhances the reviewer's ability to keep reading and to follow the argument. To follow the logic of the argument, the reviewer must be able to (1) understand what premises are being presented to support the thesis and (2) easily follow the argument within each premise. The two major means of enhancing organization and presentation involve outlining and the constructive use of word-processing tools. An outline is a tool for organizing the logic of your argument. Headings are used to guide the reader through the logic of the argument. In addition to ensuring that the document is organized so that reviewers can easily follow a logical progression of thought, the material should be presented to maximize readability. View full abstract»

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      References

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.refs
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

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      About the Author

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.about
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

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      Index

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.index
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

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      none

      Berger, R.
      A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists

      DOI: 10.1002/9781118886779.oth1
      Copyright Year: 2014

      Wiley-IEEE Press eBook Chapters

      No abstract. View full abstract»