Why Tech Comm. Is your Best Friend by yurtgc548

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									   Why you should pay
attention in Tech. Comm.
       Dr. Toni Logar
       October 3, 2007
                   The Program
n   Introduction
n   Writing
    n   The framework
    n   The audience
    n   The story
    n   My guidelines
n   A word on presenting
n   Conclusion
   Introduction




Life isn’t fair
                Introduction
n   Can you solve 2x – 3 = 1?
n   Do you think people who can’t are stupid?
                Introduction
n   If someone walked up to you and said “My
    buddies and me was going to Safeway when
    we was struck by an idea of something funner
    to do.”
n   Would you think someone who said this was
    stupid?
                   Introduction
n   I write a lot
n   I’m a technical writer, not a creative writer
    n   I’m dull
n   Mathematically gifted = pattern matcher
n   Pattern matcher and creative don’t usually
    come in the same box
n   I write algorithmically
                  Introduction
n   How I prepared this talk
    n “Phase Space Analysis of Friction Stir Welding
      Quality”
    - Did every one of these things while I was writing
                 Introduction
n   The big lie : “If you build a better mousetrap,
    the world will beat a path to your door”
n   Lots of miserable mousetraps get sold
n   Lots of brilliant ideas are buried because the
    inventor couldn’t make people see the benefit
n   A marketplace of competing ideas
    Introduction



You must learn
    to sell
                     Introduction
n   You sell your ideas by presenting them
n   That means you must be able to
    n   write well
    n   speak well
                Introduction
n   Science and engineering faculty as a group do
    you a disservice
n   You don’t know how lucky you are
                  Writing
n   Define a framework
n   Know your audience
n   Tell a story
        Writing – The Framework
n   Look at the intended publication venue
    n   Ex : IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks
    n   Pay attention to length
    n   Citation styles, including equations
    n   Picture limitations
n   Organization can make or break a paper
        Writing – The Audience
n   Level of explanation
n   Not all technical people know all technical
    topics
             Writing – The Story
n   This is critical
n   The point of the story must be clear by the end
    of the paper
    n   Need to set the stage
    n   Pace revelations
    n   Make sure the conclusion logically follows from
        the information you have already given
          Writing – My Guidelines
n   Write a rough draft to get the ideas down
n   Golden rule : If the reader can’t reproduce
    your results, you have failed.
    n   Must provide all experimental data and settings
    n   Equation argument (insert vs. rederive)
    n   Publishing is for peer review as well as
        dissemination of knowledge
          Writing – My Guidelines
n   Look at word choices
    n   “This network trains better than that others we
        looked at” Subjective and weak
    n   “This network implements a revolutionary training
        approach” Subjective and over the top
    n   “This technique has been shown to reduce training
        times by 30%” Objective, quantitative, non-
        judgmental (the reader draws the conclusion.
          Writing – My Guidelines
n   Remove unnecessary words
    n   “This is a really good, fast network training algorithm”
        What does “really” do for you?
    n   “This is a good, fast network training algorithm” What
        does “good” tell you? What does fast tell you?
    n   “This network training algorithm is faster than the other
        approaches surveyed in this work”
    n   “This algorithm will train a network in O(n) time while
        back propagation required O(n log n)”
          Writing – My Guidelines
n   Flow is important
    n   Look for repeated or over-used words
    n   Look at sentence length
    n   Look at sentence structure
    n   Avoid words that look/sound the same instigated,
        intimated. Use clearly different words so the reader won’t
        be confused. (instigated, hinted) or Technical readers don’t
        read every word…
n   Always write in the 3rd person. And never, never “I”.
          Writing – My Guidelines
n   Use pictures
    n   Must be clear in black and white
    n   Label axes
    n   Check your scale for distortion
n   Read it out loud to yourself.
n   Write a paper like a proof. Each sentence must
    clearly follow from the one before it.
          Writing – My Guidelines
n   Avoid overstatement. You need to be upbeat
    enough to sell it but technical people are
    suspicious of the “over-sell”
n   Seek professional help
    n   Another technical person should proof-read
    n   If you are lucky enough to have one, a professional
        writer should critique your style and grammar.
    n   And be *appreciative* when you get help!
A word about presenting your paper
Some things I learned the hard way at
   international conferences:
  –   Americans talk too fast
  –   Americans slur words together and don’t
      pronounce all the letters.
      –   “wouldja gimme …”
  –   Tech Comm. teaches “bullets and buzzwords”
      for slides – won’t work in this setting. Pictures,
      pictures, pictures…
         Presenting your paper
4.   The rest of the world is on the metric system
     –   Don’t forget graphs
5.   US 1,234.56    Europe 1.234,56
6.   Humor doesn’t translate
7.   The meaning of color is culturally dependent
                  Conclusion
n   Another inconvenient truth :


    Dr. Sneller can’t teach you to
    write any more than I can teach
             you to code.
                    Conclusion
n   What can you do?
    n   Treat your technical
        communications/humanities/social science courses
        with respect
    n   Read, read, read, and read
    n   Observe and imitate
    n   Practice

								
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