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by: Garett Kovacek


Garett Kovacek
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Class Notes
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Garett Kovacek on Thursday September 17, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PHY 3091 at Florida State University taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 29 views. For similar materials see /class/205529/phy-3091-florida-state-university in Physics 2 at Florida State University.




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Date Created: 09/17/15
Phys3113 Discovering Modern Physics Tips on Writing a Short Paper Michael A Morrison Version 34 April 30 2000 INTRODUCTION Now that you ve researched and sharply de ned the topic of your paper you re ready to write the preliminary version Don t panic The preliminary version is just a trial runia chance to try out your ideas about how to present what you ve learned about your topic This is not however a rough draft The preliminary version should be as good an approximation to your nal paper as you can construct So it should include gures tables references and any other elements you plan for your nal version Of course anything you do in the preliminary version can be changed before you write your nal version Why write a preliminary version First you can best sort out your ideas if you write them down Second you will get invaluable feedback from your readers who will offer constructive criticism on your version Finally returning to a preliminary version after you ve gotten a little distance from it will immeasurably improve the nal version you m e W en you revise the preliminary version This version therefore gives you a chance to nd out what works and what doesn t work Using the feedback and your re ections on the preliminary version you ll be able to develop a nal version that is effectively embodies your ideas How do I get prepare a preliminary version77 of my paper Every paper is or should be an organic thing evolving as the author shapes drafts and revises it until it satis es his or her goals Since a preliminary version is a trial run of the nal paper it should contain all the pieces that will make up the nal paper Below you ll nd a list of the speci c elements that must appear in your preliminary version and your nal paper In addition construct whatever gures or tables you want to include with captions Add references to external resources you used Type it up Run it through a spell checker Proofread it carefully And you re done When you write your preliminary version be free with your thoughts Remember you can always revise what you write A great way to selfcritique a preliminary version is to do something else for a day or so then come back to it and as objectively as possible ask yourself the following questions lfl knew nothing about this subject what in this paper would confuse me How can I restructure add or subtract material or rewrite certain paragraphs to make my paper more interesting andor comprehensible What elements must be in a preliminary version The structure of your preliminary version should be the same as the structure of your nal version At the most basic level here is the structure all papers about anything should have1 H Introduction Body of the paper Conclusion F90 Figures Tables etc if appropriate 5 References The following paragraphs look at each of these sections and other elements in a little more detail Re member though that within this overall structure and the rough guidelines below the subject matter of your paper will help you shape your particular paper 1You should have a section called Introduction and a section called Conclusion but don t call the central section of the paper Body Instead devise with a short succinct title for this section that describes what it is about eg The Theory of the Photon or The Physics of BoseeEinstein Condensation or The Compton Experimen Similarly if you label subsections of your paper devise short appropriate meaningful titles for them The purpose of all this is to help your reader see at a glance what each section or subesection is about Tips on Writing a Short Paper 2 Introduction The introduction consists of a paragraph or two that sets the stage for your paper The goals of your introduction are to situate your reader so he or she knows what you re going to be talking about and to make your topic so interesting that your reader wants to read on Somewhere in your introduction you must state clearly and in a single sentence what the paper is about this statement must be speci c and focused not vague and allencompassing That is your reader must get from it a clear idea of precisely what aspect of your topic you ll be discussing Body of the Paper In the body of the paper you develop a logical sequence of ideas that leads your reader through the topic to an understanding of Whatever point you re trying to make3 Depending on the focus of your paper this part might contain historicalbiographical background information about experiments you re discussing physics that is relevant to understanding your topic necessary mathematics gures and tables with captions and other relevant material The particular sections and subsections that will appear in the body of your paper will depend on the approach you re taking to your topic Conclusion he conclusion is one of the most important parts of your paper It s the part your reader will most likely remember In the conclusion you step back from the detailed discussions in the body and bring the paper to closure The goal of the conclusion is to take your reader out of the paper leaving us satis ed that we ve learned something interesting The conclusion must reiterate the focus of your paper and brie y summarize the high points of the development you ve constructedi Appendices optional ou may include appendices containing information about your topic that isn t required or doesn t belong in the main text For instance appendices are good places for mathematical derivations or supplemental data References You must include an entry in the reference list for all citations in your paper similarly every citation must include a reference in this list Your paper is not supposed to be a report of original research rather it s supposed to be an original synthesis of What you ve learned about your topic a construction largely in your words of your ndings about the subject You must clearly and unambiguously reference very insight paraphrase result derivation idea or direct quotation you take from an other source every gure andor table you include unless your own work must include a citation Failure to properly cite the literature you used constitutes plagiarism one of the most heinous crimes in science Tables and table captions optional You may include tables in the body of your paper near where you rst refer to them or on separate sheets of paper at the end In general tables are far less useful than gures which are easier for readers to assimilate and authors to discuss Every table must have a caption All tables must be cited sequentially in your paper Never include a table Without explicitly discussing it in your 2Never write in any paper like My topic is clearly stated in your introduction As a rule of thumb give each subeidea at least one paragraph Remember that a paragraph is a kind of miniature paper Each paragraph should make and discuss one and only one point One sentence in each paragraph should clearly indicate directly or indirectly what the paragraph is about If you can t nd such a sentence then you need to revise the paragraph or combine it with a prior or subsequent one or This paper is about Rather make sure the topic and focus are Tips on Writing a Short Paper paper7 telling your reader What you want him or her to notice about the table and Why it s important Figures and gure captions optional You may include gures in the body of your paper or separately at the end Figures must be numbered sequentially as cited in the text Each gure must have a caption in your own words that clearly identi es each element of the gure Figure captions must explain the gure in su cient detail that a reader with a background in your subject can understand the gure without having to read the text Never include a gure Without explicitly discussing it in your paper How do I get started Everybody is different There are no rules Here are a few suggestions drawn from lots of experience of lots of writers 1 Do one thing at a time This is the most powerful tip for writing papers and preparing talks that I know It means don t try to organize your ideas gure out how to explain them decide which equations and gures to use decide about how youlre going to say what youlre going to say try to write effective transitions between items youlre discussing check the spelling x the grammar polish your proseidon7t try to do all these things at the same time Do rst things rst Get your ideas in logical sequence this will help you organize the paper quickly Then write out your ideas in general terms not worrying about technicalities See if they follow logically if not try other arrangements Then decide what gures tables equations witty audiovisual clips MP3 les or whatever will help to explain the ideas more effectively en gure out where to put each one and what to say about it Only late in the process in writing your nal version should you give close attention to small details ne tuning like thorough spell checking polishing gures etc including all references in the correct format etc Develop your paper from the inside out At the simplest level this means write the body rst It7s impossible to write the Conclusion before you know what you7ve written in the Body And its much easier to write the Introduction once you know fairly clearly what youlre introducing So leave these until the latter stages of putting together your preliminary version E0 Don t try to write a polished preliminary version Of course even a preliminary version should be readable and as free of grammatical errors as possible But don7t try to make it perfect The key point here is to get your ideas on paper in some sort of sensible sequence You ll have lots of opportunity to polish later5 CA3 4 Include something about each gure or table you will likely want to include Again don t spend lots of time making these items pretty But your preliminary version will be much more valuable to you and comprehensible to your readers if it includes something about each gures table etc you now intend to include If you don7t have time to prepare a gure or table include information that describes it roughly Even that7s better than nothing 5 Include something about every subsection of your paper If you intend to include a sub section in your paper but havenlt had time to fully research it write a rough summary of what will be in it and label this paragraph as a summary Again the key thing is to get something that looks as much as possible as your nal version as you conceive it now T e same principle is often very helpful in organizing and writing elements of the paper For instance I often write down the equations for a short subesection or discussion rst Then I can decide exactly which equations to leave in and w ch to toss what notation to use and what I want the reader to know about the equation before worrying about the prose to stitch the equations together or how 17m going to get into and out of the derivation You can do the same thing with Figures and Tables and lots of other elements of the paper other reason to not spend a lot of time polishing a preliminary version is that you may decide after you get some feedback to drop stuff rewrite a few paragraphs or restructure the body of your paper Time you spent polishing parts of your rst draft you later toss is wasted timegsomething you can7t a ord Tips on Writing a Short Paper 4 How can I make my paper more effective The rst trick to writing an effective paper is revision The more versions you do within your reason time constraints and other responsibilities the better your paper will be The second trick is to solicit and pay attention to constructive feedback on your preliminary version6 Here are a few tricks of the trade77 for writing effective short papers 0 Write in your own voice Don t adopt the stilted passive voice77 construction often found in bad physics papers lt7s OK to use I77 when discussing your ideas and conclusions On the other hand don7t use colloquialism expressions or slang Strike a balance between conversational informality and arch formality Remember your prose should be invisible lts sole job is to communicate your synthesis of what you7ve learned clearly and interestingly to your reader 0 Keep your audience in mind Remember that you are writing for readers whose background is comparable to yours Don t write your paper at an arti cially high a leve De ne all symbols specialized terms and abbreviations One of the most common and serious aws in short papers is the use of symbols or jargon or acronyms without de nition Remember your reader doesn t know as much about your topic as you do For each abbreviation you use spell out the full name the rst time you use it thereafter you can use the abbreviation by itself 0 Don t pad your paper lnclude what you need to make your point clearly Cut everything else 0 Discuss each table gure or equation you present A common mistake in short papers is including these items without explanation Everything you include should be in your paper because it relates clearly to the discussion you re developing For each such item you must explicitly tell us what you want us to notice and what insights or conclusions you draw from the item In other words you must explain why youlre including the gure equation or table Remember your reader can read only your prose not your mind 0 Don t loose focus be selective Avoid tangents sidelines and detours that lead your reader away from the main idea the focus of your paper Don t include every fascinating tidbit or note you dug up during your libraryinternet search Part of what is original77 about this paper is your selectivity choose from the material you7ve gathered information only that which contributes to a clear understanding of the single aspect of your topic that is the focus of your paper 0 Be speci c Don7t generalize Be sure to support every major step in the development of your thesis statement with examples or references As you revise your paper scrutinize every paragraph and eliminate all generalizations or vague statements 0 Tell a story The very best papersieven physics papersihave an internal logic to their organization that makes readers want to read the paper Writers who want to sound sophisticated call this the narrative arc77 of the paper Even if you later write research papers or technical reports you can almost always organize your material so the papers has a wellde ned beginning middle and endi must like a story The structure suggested above ensures this If you then construct the body of the paper so every new step or point follows logically from the one before it then your paper will tell a story and will be much more compelling interesting and memorable Never unless there is a compelling reason to do so allow mere chronology to de ne the logic of the paper7 What format should my paper have 0 It must be typed doublespaced on one side of the paper only Leave margins of one inch no more on each side of the page and on the top and bottom If you use a dotmatrix or laserjet printer be sure the inktoner is dark 6 Pay attention does not mean that you implement every suggestion your readers make It means that you consider seriously each such suggestion solicit clari cation from your reader if the suggestionisn7t clear and decide for yourself whether implementing the suggestion will improve the paper and is feasible be single exception I can think of is an historical paperisuch as say a history of the discovery of the electron Here you at least would want to establish a chronology in your Introduction but even here the chronological sequence should serve more as a frame for the main discussion in the paper than as the only organizing principle Tips on Writing a Short Paper 5 o It must be free of typographical7 mathematical7 and grammatical errors Run it through a spell check get a friend or two to proof it for you do whatever is necessary but don t hand in a sloppy errorridden paper You7ve worked hard to develop your ideas they deserve the best presentation you can give them 0 It must have a title page The title page contains the title of your paper your name the date7 and details of this course The references must follow standard American Physical Society APS style7 including journal abbreviations You need not follow APS format for anything else in the paper although you certainly can if you want to You can download handouts on both topics from our web page What mistakes should I avoid like the plague Here s a short list of things that turn almost all readers off when they read a paper The absence of these from your paper will guarantee that it does the job you want it to as well as possible and guarantee a higher grade 0 typographical errors 0 unexplained symbols 77 u 77 u o the words obviously clearly easily77 etc o uncredited ideas paraphrases etc 0 gures tables7 or equations presented without explanation o no introduction 0 no conclusion 8V739hy is eliminating all typographical spelling and grammatical errors so important Well have you ever watched a really good movie or TV show on a television whose reception was so poor that there was a lot of snow or noise on the screen and lots of static on top of the audio Pretty irritating isn7t it That7s what reading a good paper which is full of typos is like These errors distract your reader from w at you want him or her to focus oniyour ideasito mentally correcting your errors and with increasing frustration trying to gure out what you7re trying to say Every error undermines all the hard work you put into researching and writing the paper Get them all out


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