Writing for Science and Engineering

Writing for Science and Engineering

Papers, Presentations and Reports

2nd Edition - October 12, 2012

Write a review

  • Author: Heather Silyn-Roberts
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780080982854
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080982861

Purchase options

Purchase options
DRM-free (PDF, Mobi, EPub)
Sales tax will be calculated at check-out

Institutional Subscription

Free Global Shipping
No minimum order


Learning how to write clearly and concisely is an integral part of furthering your research career; however, doing so is not always easy. In this second edition, fully updated and revised, Dr. Silyn-Roberts explains in plain English the steps to writing abstracts, theses, journal papers, funding bids, literature reviews, and more. The book also examines preparing seminar and conference presentations. Written in a practical and easy to follow style specifically for postgraduate students in Engineering and Sciences, this book is essential in learning how to create powerful documents. Writing for Science and Engineering will prove invaluable in all areas of research and writing due its clear, concise style. The practical advice contained within the pages alongside numerous examples to aid learning will make the preparation of documentation much easier for all students.

Key Features

  • Written in modular format, so you only need to access the relevant chapter
  • Covers a wide range of document and presentation types
  • Includes easy-to-understand rules to improve writing


All science, engineering and technology postgraduates will find this useful, as well as research and development workers who are expected to write reports and make presentations.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: How to Use This Book

    Added for the Second Edition

    The Basic Structure of the Book

    How to Use This Book

    Section 1: Document Structure. The Requirements for each Section

    1. Structuring a Document: Using the Headings Skeleton

    The Basic Skeleton of Section Headings for a Technical Document

    Choosing Section Headings: Building an Extended Skeleton

    The Outline Mode of Microsoft Word®: Organizing a Document

    The Importance of Overview Information

    Deliberate Repetition of Information in a Document

    Specific Types of Documents: Using This Book

    2. The Core Chapter: Sections and Elements of a Document

    Letter of Transmittal, Covering letter

    The Title

    Running Title

    A Conference Poster Title

    The Title Page

    Authorship and Affiliation (Particularly in a Journal Paper)

    Abstract (can also be called a Summary)



    Table of Contents (or Contents Page)

    List of Illustrations

    Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations (or List of Symbols, when dealing with only mathematical symbols)





    Purpose Statement, Scoping Statement (or Scope), Procedure Statement, Problem Statement

    Literature Review

    A Section Covering Your Planning of Tasks

    Allocation of Responsibilities




    Materials and Methods (can also be called Methods or Procedure)


    Structuring of Corresponding Headings for Materials and Methods and Results Sections

    Results and Discussion




    Suggestions for Future Research

    List of References or References

    List of Personal Communications





    Designing Tables

    Section 2: Specific Types of Documents

    3. An Abstract, a Summary, an Executive Summary

    Purpose of an Abstract/Summary/Executive Summary

    Definitions: Abstract/Summary/Executive Summary


    How to Write It: General Information for All Types of Abstract or Summary

    Aiming for an Informative Abstract/Summary

    A Conference Abstract

    An Executive Summary

    4. A Literature Review

    What is a Literature Review?

    When you are Likely to Have to Write a Literature Review

    Purpose of a Literature Review

    Common Difficulties

    What Makes a Good Literature Review?

    General Guidelines

    A Possible Structure for a Self-Standing Literature Review (i.e. not part of a thesis)

    Why Your Initial Literature Review Won’t Be Good Enough for a Thesis

    Supplementary Tabulated Presentation for a Thesis

    Common Mistakes

    5. A Research Proposal

    Types and Purpose of Proposals

    How to Write It

    A Proposal to a Funding Body or to a Commercial Organisation

    6. A Journal Paper

    The General Structure of a Journal Paper

    How to Start Writing a Journal Paper

    Guidelines: Writing the Various Elements of a Journal Paper

    Journal Paper Title

    Authorship and Affiliation



    Journal Paper Introduction

    Journal Paper Introduction: Tense of the Verb

    Methods (also called Materials and Methods or Procedure)


    Journal Paper Discussion

    Results and Discussion



    Figures for a Journal Paper: General Guidelines

    The Process of Publishing a Paper

    Collected Checklists for a Journal Paper

    Planning a Journal Paper: Question Sheet

    7. Progress Reports

    A Progress Report to the Funding Body or Organisation

    Possible Structure

    A Project Team’s Progress Reports

    8. Consulting/Management Report and Recommendation Report

    A Consulting or Management Report

    A Recommendation Report

    9. Engineering Design Report

    Purpose of a Design Report


    General Characteristics of Design Documentation

    The Workbook

    Suggested Structure of Design Documentation

    The Summary

    Development of a Model

    Design Calculations

    10. A Formal Letter (Hardcopy or Online)

    The Parts of a Formal Letter

    Overall Layout

    Structure of the Information

    Style of Writing

    Types of Formal Letters

    11. Emails and Faxes

    Formal Emails to Communicate Work Matters

    Formal Faxes

    12. A Procedure or a Set of Instructions



    How to Write it

    Possible Structure for a Procedure

    Guidelines for the Wording of the Instructions

    Common Mistakes

    13. Thesis

    Purpose of a Thesis

    Difficulties of Writing a Thesis

    How to Write it: Writing Up as a Process to Be Managed

    Structure of a Thesis

    Checklists for the Sections of a Thesis

    14. A Conference Poster

    Attending a Conference and Presenting a Poster: The Basics

    Purpose of a Conference Poster

    Advantages and Disadvantages of a Poster

    What Conference Participants Dislike in a Poster

    Planning the Poster

    Design of the Layout

    Figures and Tables

    Section 3: Referencing, Editorial Conventions, Revising, Proofreading

    15. Referencing: Text Citations and the List of References

    General Guidelines

    The Basics of Referencing

    How to Compile the List of References Section

    Example (Both Systems): Text and Corresponding List of References

    16. Conventions Used in Scientific and Technical Writing

    Where to Place the Titles of Tables and Figures

    Using Numbers

    Equations: Formatting in the Text

    Written Style for Headings

    Use of SI Units

    Genus and Species Names

    17. Revising

    Before You Revise

    Aspects to Check: Organisation, Style, Formatting, Document Integrity

    Section 4: Writing Style

    18. Problems of Style: Recognising and Correcting Them



    Verbs and Vivid Language

    Recognising and Correcting Incomplete Sentences

    When English Is an Additional Language

    Section 5: Presenting Your Work Orally

    19. A Seminar or Conference Presentation

    The Constraining Factors of a Presentation

    Strategies for Beginners

    The Time Sequence of Activities in a Science Presentation

    Structuring Your Presentation

    Designing Your Slides (PowerPoint or Other Presentation Software)

    Delivering Your Presentation

    Running Out of Time

    Answering Questions

    Checklist for a Presentation

    20. A Presentation to a Small Group

    Occasions When You Might Present to a Small Panel


    Basic Principles for Preparation

    A Ph.D. Oral Examination

    A Presentation to a Review Panel

    Checklist for a Presentation to a Small Panel

    Appendix 1: SI Units and Their Abbreviations

    SI Base Units and Symbols

    Other Units Used with SI

    Examples of SI Derived Units

    Standard Prefixes Used with SI Units

    Appendix 2: The Parts of Speech; Tenses and Forms of the Verb

    Parts of Speech

    Tenses and Forms of the Verb

    Appendix 3: Recommended Scientific Style Manuals

Product details

  • No. of pages: 208
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2012
  • Published: October 12, 2012
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780080982854
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080982861

About the Author

Heather Silyn-Roberts

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Auckland

Ratings and Reviews

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for "Writing for Science and Engineering"