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How to Write a Successful

Technical Paper

• Intro

• The Simple Story

• Mechanics of Writing Clearly

• Types of Papers

• The Publication Process

• Important Source Material

• The listener cannot re-read. . Technical speaking and writing share a common goal: Express an idea clearly. So the writer must anticipate confusion. So the speaker must repeat creatively. • The reader cannot ask questions.

with results P. . I saw.” — Julius Caesar’s description of his expedition to England. vici. Q. Tell a Simple Story “Veni. B. We approached it by Z. and many people have worked on related topics [review literature]. and R. vidi. and C. The implications of these results are A.” ⇒ “I came. I conquered. One common technical simple story: X is an important problem because Y.

and C. and many people have worked on this [review literature]. Tell a Simple Story Another common technical simple story: Progress in area X is blocked by Y. Its major subsystems are P. B. . Q. we built a system that did Z. and R. Future work includes A. To address this.

• Write a simple story for each section. Mechanics of writing a paper — 1. • Those main points are the subsections. • Organize minor points in each subsection into their logical order. • Start an outline with those main points as sections. • Collect every minor point under its relevant subsection ⇒ group related things together. • Identify the idea you wish to express. incorrect logical order. • Identify and fix points of possible confusion ⇒ Missing info. and write it down. • Write down the simple story that tells the idea. etc. .

• Write (Very Approximately!!) a paragraph for each minor point. • Rewrite for clarity. • Rewrite (many times!) for clarity. • Write the abstract. • Circulate to friends and colleagues. . Mechanics of writing a paper — 2. • Add intro and summary paragraphs to each section. • Squeeze out excess words and sentences.

And edit. . Writing Clearly — 7 Keys • Omit needless words. condense many. Its major actors = its subject and objects. • Prominently elevate important things. • Tell a simple story. many. • Group related things together. revise. simple. • A sentence’s major action = its verb. declarative sentences and common terms. • A paragraph’s topic sentence announces or summarizes its content. clarify. many times. • Use short. re-write.

ICS-198 Report. etc. Types of Papers • Unpublished material — tech reports. • Thesis. • Conference Proceedings paper — Note page limit! Space is always too short! • Journal — technical article. • Journal — review article. workshop notes. . • Book Chapter.

Accept or Reject.The Publication Process — Conference • Write it. and occasionally may request that it not be sent to someone (provide a brief reason). • If accept. Add any new data or new results. • Circulate to colleagues and revise. prepare camera-ready copy of paper. Revise and submit to another conference. . • Submit it. A cover letter may suggest referees (reviewers). • Reviews and decision come back. • Return by deadline. Address reviewer’s comments as appropriate. • If reject. understand why.

Revise and resubmit. The Publication Process — Journal • Write it. . • Submit it. or (rarely) the reasons not to accept that suggestion. • Reviews and decision come back. and occasionally may request that it not be sent to someone (provide a brief reason). • Prepare a BRIEF cover letter itemizing each re- viewer point and how you revised the manuscript in re- sponse. • If reject. understand why. Accept with major revisions. Accept reviewer’s suggestions unless clear reason not to. . • Send in again . revise in accord with reviewer’s comments. Revise and resubmit to another journal. • Else. . Accept with minor revisions. • Circulate to colleagues and revise. A cover letter may suggest referees (reviewers). or Reject. Put these almost in “bullet” form.

more favorably regarded by your peers. Impact • Salami strategy — slice publications as thinly as possible. – Gets material submitted quickly. Quantity does count. “Salami” (LPU) vs. – In general. Reduce each result to the “Least Publishable Unit. – More prestigious. .” – Adds weight to resume. attempt to maximize number. less likely to get “scooped. grant proposals.” • Impact strategy — strive for the most visible pub- lications that will be regarded as important work by your peers. Strive for a balance. the scientific and technical litera- ture would be better off with half the quantity and twice the quality.

ISI Press. Williams. White. and E. MacMillan Publish- ing Co. Read Cover-to-Cover: • “The Elements of Style. Buy these for your personal library and re-read them periodically. Day. . HarperCollins Pub- lishers.. B. have a dictionary and thesaurus handy.” Robert A. • “How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. Jr. • “Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity & Grace.” William Strunk. Also.” Joseph M.

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