Writing

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Leonardo da Vinci programme
European Commission

Writing in English
A Practical Handbook for Scientific and Technical
Writers

A Pilot Project

Project Partners
Zuzana Svobodova, Technical University Brno, Czech Republic
Heidrun Katzorke and Ursula Jaekel, Technische Universität, Chemnitz, Germany Stefania Dugovicova and Mike Scoggin, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia Peter Treacher, ELT Centre, University of Essex, England

Writing in English
A Practical Handbook for Scientific and Technical Writers
CONTENTS
Page No.

Page No.

Foreword
1

Types of Writing

1.1

Scientific Articles

1.2

Research Papers

Language functions

1

4.1

Agreeing and Disagreeing

2

4.2 Classifying

3

4.3

Comparing and Contrasting 37

4.4

1.3 Proposals

4

Defining

39

4.5

Emphasising

41

35
36

2

Composition

2.1

Titles

5

4.6

Generalising

43

2.2

Planning your Writing

6

4.7

Paraphrasing

45

2.3

Paragraph Writing

7

4.8

Quoting

47

2.4

Introductions

9

2.5

Writing the Main Body

12

5

Grammar

2.6

Conclusions

14

5.1

Adverbs

51

2.7

Sections of a Research
Paper

5.2 Articles

53

17

5.3

Numbers

56

Describing Tables and
Graphs

18

5.4

Passive Voice

56

2.8

19

2.10 Plagiarism

21

2.11 Abstracts

21

2.12 Summary Writing

5.5 Punctuation

58

5.6

Verb Tenses

62

5.7

Word Order

65

6

2.9 Referencing

Words

6.1

Abbreviations

24

3

Style

3.1

Objectivity

27

3.2 Clarity

28

3.3

Formality

29

3.4

Hedging

29

3.5 Signposting

31

67

6.2 Prefixes

68

6.3 Suffixes

70

Foreword
No science stands alone. If research done, findings found, conclusions drawn are not presented to the world then it is arguable whether they are of any real use at all. The reason for the research paper is to present the findings to the world, to share the information learned for others to do with it what they will. Why the research was originally conducted is of interest, but the researcher’s intentions, goals and conclusions are not the end.

For example, a zoologist’s published observations of the chemical means of trail marking by ants may be read by a biochemist, who in turn researches the make-up of the chemical. These findings are then read by a chemist who synthesises the chemical and through that research finds a means of bonding that is both durable, but removable. Meanwhile a scientist in robotics reads the zoologist’s work and other possibilities arise. This roboticist creates a robot that can detect and respond to chemicals applied like paint to the floor, solving the problem of how to guide and instruct robots on their mail-delivery rounds through an often-changing maze in an assembly plant. No research stands alone. No researcher can foresee all of the consequences and ramifications of their work. All science is interdisciplinary. This is why research results and findings are published.

Since no one knows what impact the research might have, and on whom, the work must be published in a way that is easily accessible not only for fellow researchers in the particular field, but to everyone. The work must be presented in an ordered, conventionally agreed upon way. A research, technical or scientific paper is not the place for creative or artistic writing, but for the organised, logical, deliberate dissemination of knowledge. The researcher did the research; the reader should not have to.

This handbook has been designed to be a reference book and guide for researchers who have to write up their scientific work in English and who may need help to compose and write more clearly and accurately in the language. At present it is only a pilot version and the final edition will be ready during 2001. Your comments on the usefulness of this draft will be invaluable to...
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