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HINTS FOR ORGANIZATION OF TECHNICAL PAPER AND THESIS

By

James M. Gregory

Use with the attached 3x3 matrix to cross checks sections of paper or thesis. Usually,
separate sections are used in a thesis for literature review and procedure in addition to the
3x3 writing matrix. Also if one section is extremely short, it should be combined with an
adjacent section.

I. TITLE
a. Write most important key word or phrase, such as erosion.
b. Write modifiers or restrictions necessary to give clear meaning, such as soil to exclude
erosion of metal, etc.
c. Rewrite title four or five ways then select the most simple and clear title.

II. ABSTRACT

a. Why was work done?


b. What was done?
c. What restrictions exist on what was done?
d. How was work evaluated?
e. What are the results of the evaluation?
f. How can the completed work be used?
g. Keep information in abstract as simple and nontechnical as possible. Does information in
abstract stand alone without support from other parts of paper?

III. INTRODUCTION

a. Define the overall problem.


b. Define the specific problem or component of the problem.
c. Relate problem to previous work reported in literature.
1. Write most important fact learned from literature review.
2. Write second most important fact, etc., until all facts are listed.
3. Do any facts contradict each other? If so, write the contradiction.
4. Are any of the facts related? If so, write general topic under which they relate,
etc., until all general topics are listed.
5. How many general topics do you have? This is the number of subsections needed
in the literature reviews.
6. How many facts do you have? This is the minimum number of paragraphs needed
in the literature review.
7. What information is needed but missing from literature review?
8. Why is it missing? Need experiment? Need theory? Need testing? etc.
IV. PURPOSE

a. Write the specific objective of this work and paper.


1. Report theory?
2. Report data?
b. Write any restrictions or qualifiers on objective.
c. Relate the objective to information learned from the literature review.

V. DEVELOPMENT

a. Is development theoretical, experimental, or both?


b. If theoretical, give procedure.
1. What is the starting point (natural law, observation, concept, definition,
dimensional analysis, order of magnitude, or boundary condition)?
2. List steps for development.
3. How is final equation or theory verified?
4. Is the data base- equation system significant?
c. If experimental, give purpose of experiment.
1. What are the treatments?
2. How many treatments?
3. What is thought to be the most important treatment?
4. How many replications are needed to make the test?
d. If the testing treatment, give details of procedure.
1. What are the treatments?
2. How many treatments?
3. What is thought to be the most important treatment?
4. How many replications are needed to make the test?
e. If testing a theory or equation, give procedure.
1. What range of independent variables were needed or used?
2. What materials were used to conduct the test?
3. Does the data base have any regional or other restrictions?
f. When was the experiment done?
g. Where was the experiment done?
h. How was the experiment done?
i. Was the experiment done in conjunction with other work?
j. List other details of experiment or procedure?
VI. RESULTS

a. Did the results answer the objectives?


b. Were differences found between treatments?
c. Were the results significant?
d. Did any interactions occur?
e. What recommendations can be made?
f. If testing a theory,
1. What is the fit or R2 of relationship?
2. How many degrees of freedom were lost due to calibration or evaluation of
constants?
3. How many degrees of freedom were lost due to clustering?
g. How can results be used?
1. In table form.
2. Used with a calculator.
3. Used with a computer?
h. Who can or should use the results?
1. Laymen
2. Professionals.
3. Researchers.
4. Policy makers.
5. Educational system.

VII. CONCLUSIONS
a. What results were conclusive, that is, answer a specific question?
b. Were objectives completed?
c. What additional work needs to be performed?

VIII. SUMMARY
a. Why was work performed?
b. Briefly describe procedure or experiment used to perform work.
c. What are the important results?
d. What can be concluded form this work?

IX. REFERENCES
a. Report all references cited.
b. Report only cited references.
c. Know and start with the format recommended by your profession or the journal
where paper is to be published.
Title Abstract Introduction READER CAPTURE OR
Use a few key words and a Present an overview of the Tell the reader what the REJECTION
key thought. work, subject matter involves
Purpose Development Results FOUNDATION OF PAPER
Tell why you did the Discuss the procedure, Explain what you did
work experimental plan, or and how it affects
theoretical development. present conditions.
Conclusions Summary References REFERENCES AND MATERIAL
Explain what the reader Enhance the reader’s Site only references YOU WANT THE READER TO
should learn from this memory by reviewing the used in text. Use REFERENCE TO YOUR PAPER
work. work. consistent standard
format accepted by
your professor.
Do conclusions reveal that Did you tell the story three How well do your Prepared by:
purpose was achieved? times and three different results fit or match J. M. Gregory and C.B. Fedler
ways? other references or the Agricultural Engineering
overall problem? Department
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX 79409