Engineering Writing 3

UCI School of Engineering ENGR 190W
Midterm Research Paper – Spring 2020 Page 1 of 3
Assignment Description – Midterm Research Paper
Assignment Deadline and Topic Selection
The midterm research paper is due in the Canvas drop box by 6:00 PM on Monday (4-27-20). The
revised requirements for the midterm assignment are as follows. Plan, research, and write a 4 to 5-page
paper (body pages of text) on seismology or any engineering-related topic. The inclusion of graphical
elements to support your text is recommended and will increase the page count, which is acceptable.
Sample midterm research papers are shown in the Sample Assignments module in Canvas.
The suggested field of seismology covers a broad range of topics, which should allow you to find a wide
variety of sources related to your specific topic (see suggestions below). However, you may optionally
choose any other engineering-related topic for your paper. As an example, if you are currently
conducting mentored research or are working on some type of engineering project in another class, you
may write about that topic instead. Some suggested topics for seismology are as follows:
 explain the basics of how and why earthquakes occur (plate tectonics, seafloor spreading, etc.)
 describe/discuss the various proposed/tested earthquake prediction schemes
 describe a specific earthquake (e.g., 1906 San Francisco earthquake, 1989 Loma Prieta
earthquake, etc.) and its effects on the environment, economy, and/or society
 describe/compare the methods used for structural assessment and retrofitting of older buildings
for seismic safety
 discuss some recommended earthquake preparedness plans (residential/business environments)
 provide an overview of plate tectonics and seafloor spreading theories
 describe the evolution of seismographs and how they are used to measure earthquakes
 describe the various types of electromechanical devices used for monitoring geological faults
 describe the types of seismic-resistant foundations designed for use in high-rise buildings
Completing Your Midterm Writing Assignment
Use the following steps to complete your midterm writing assignment:
1. Plan your research (develop an outline)
2. Gather your data (select relevant and credible source material)
3. Organize your data (develop a logical hierarchy based on your outline)
4. Write the draft (visit the UCI Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication)
5. Add headings and subheadings as needed to show your chosen hierarchy of information
6. Review and revise your final copy (check syntax, word choice, spelling, grammar, etc.)
7. Proofread your final copy and inspect the final formatting for balance and consistency
8. Upload an electronic copy (native file and PDF file) of your finished paper to the Canvas drop box
Assignment Specifications
The midterm paper should conform to the following specifications:
FORM (organization and hierarchy of the information presented in your paper)
The paper should contain the following sections:
 Cover page – (descriptive title, your name, student ID number, and class time)
 Abstract – (written as a stand-alone document on a separate page – double-spaced text)
 Table of Contents – (optional – NOT required for this writing assignment)
UCI School of Engineering ENGR 190W
Midterm Research Paper – Spring 2020 Page 2 of 3
 Body – (should contain an introductory paragraph followed by the main body of text, which
should be appropriately subdivided using descriptive first and second-level headings as needed
to indicate your chosen hierarchy of information (avoid stacked headings), and end with a brief
conclusion that ties the paper together and brings closure to your selected topic)
 List of References (IEEE citation format) – (should include at least five sources, preferably not
all web pages – not to be confused with online sources such as electronic copies of books,
journals, or conference proceedings)
FORMAT (visual cues and aesthetic appeal)
The paper must be set up with the following formatting parameters:
 Body text must be double-spaced and left-justified (not full-justified)
 Font size should be approximately 12-point (depending on the font style used)
 Margins should be approximately one inch (top, bottom, left and right-hand margins)
 Headings should be appropriately sized to indicate first and second-level status
 Pages must be numbered (page one begins on the first page of body text – not the cover page)
STYLE (tone and formality of the writing)
The paper should reflect a formal scientific tone (avoiding unnecessary use of first-person pronouns
when possible – I, me, my, we, ours, us) and be written to an audience of your peers. To maintain a
formal tone, avoid colloquial expressions, conversational idioms, and metaphorical phrases.
Peer Audience Considerations
Sufficient technical detail should be included in your paper to meet the expectations of your engineeringbased peer audience. Be careful not to overgeneralize or oversimplify the information presented in your
paper, making it more suited to a generalist (non-technical) audience. Considering the intended scope of
your paper, it would be better to provide greater technical detail on fewer points in your paper than to
provide overgeneralized or oversimplified information on several points in your paper.
Depending on your chosen topic and rhetorical mode, you could, for example, introduce your topic by
providing a general introduction or overview (background and/or historical information to provide context
for the reader) and then go into technical detail on selected points/components/characteristics of your
topic, followed by a conclusion (restating your main points or conclusions, or restating the significance of
your findings, or providing some forward-looking statements) to bring closure to your paper. If using an
argumentative rhetorical mode, your paper should begin with a strong thesis statement tailored to the
interests or possible concerns of your target (peer) audience. The body of the paper should be used to
develop your argument. Organize your points of discussion to create a logical flow of factual evidence.
Rhetorical Mode Selection
You may use any rhetorical mode of writing (argumentative, classification, descriptive, cause and effect,
comparison/contrast, exemplification, etc.) appropriate for your particular topic and purpose.
Assignment Review and Submission
It is recommended that you visit the UCI Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication at least
once to have a writing specialist review a draft or final copy of your paper. Although the writing center
accepts walk-in appointments, it is recommended that you make your appointment several days in
advance to ensure you can meet with a writing specialist before your paper is due. After making the
necessary final revisions to your paper, upload an electronic copy of the paper (both the native
application file and a PDF file for printing) by clicking on the Submit Assignment button for this
assignment by the published due date. Before submitting your paper, ensure the pagination is correct
(page one begins on the first page of body text – not the cover page, abstract, or table of contents).
Please name your uploaded file using your first and last name (e.g., John Smith.docx).
UCI School of Engineering ENGR 190W
Midterm Research Paper – Spring 2020 Page 3 of 3
Grading Criteria
You will receive two grades for this dual writing assignment, one for the abstract based on the criteria
shown below (an upcoming lecture will explain how to create a concise abstract), and one for the midterm
research paper. The midterm research paper will be graded on its form, format, style, and content (based
on the criteria shown on the midterm research paper evaluation rubric posted in the Assessment Rubrics
module on the Canvas course space). As stated in the course syllabus, the midterm research paper
represents 20% of your course grade. Your writing should reflect the writing concepts represented by the
“4Cs” (clear, concise, complete and correct).
Creating a Concise Abstract
Your abstract should be a condensed version of your finished work that highlights the major points
covered in your document and concisely describes the content and scope of your writing. Therefore, the
abstract can only be written after you complete your midterm research paper. As a general guideline for
this assignment, an abstract consisting of only two or three sentences is most likely missing pertinent
information contained in your paper. Conversely, an abstract that fills an entire page (using doublespaced text) most likely contains too much detail and should be further revised and reduced.
An abstract is presented first in your paper but is written last (after you finish your paper). In general, the
qualities of a well-written abstract can be characterized as follows:
 Designed as a unified, coherent, concise, stand-alone document
 Uses Introduction/Body/Conclusion structure
 Follows the chronology of your paper
 Provides logical connections (transitions) between the main points of information provided in the
 Adds no new information (information not covered in your paper)
 Maintains the same level of technical language used in your paper (written to the same audience
as your paper)
Consider the following suggestions when writing your abstract:
 Keep your abstract as short as possible by avoiding lengthy, complex sentences. However, be
careful not to focus too narrowly, which may lead to inadvertent omission of important
 Ensure your abstract contains key words (especially important if you plan to post your abstract on
the web).
 Avoid abbreviations (acronyms and initializations), jargon (specialized vocabulary used in a
particular discipline) and mathematical expressions.
 Do not include any tables or graphics (diagrams, photographs, line drawings, etc.).
 Do not include any in-text citations (all references to your sources are assumed to appear in the
body of your research paper)
 Avoid referencing other works in your abstract
 Do not comment, evaluate, or otherwise editorialize in your abstract.
 Avoid stating the obvious (e.g., “This paper will discuss…” or “The paper begins with…”)
 Write an interesting abstract that entices your reader to read your paper (the abstract is an
advertisement for your intellectual product).