TRANSPORTATION Electric cars (electric only) current status, future prospects
Ph313, Spring 2014: guidelines for writing the term paper
The size: A reasonable minimum size of the “main body” of the term paper
(Introduction – the Main Section – the Closing Section), I believe, is 5000 characters.
To give you an idea: go to the “Example”; between the title “I. INTRODUCTION”,
and the end of the first paragraph on the third page (with the last words: but almost
all of it is the “bad” 240Pt isotope.), there are 4912 characters. So, 5000 characters
correspond to about 2 1⁄2 single-spaced pages, or, about 4 double-spaced pages.
The title page, the abstract, figure captions, and the list of references should not be
included in the 5000 character count. No “minimum count” is set for these paper
Figures: I would be disappointed if there are no graphic illustrations in the paper –
say, at least two figures is a reasonable number. Figures may be inserted in the text,
but it OK to give only a reference in the text (for example: see Figure 1, or …as
shown in Figure 1), and put the figures (marked Figure 1, Figure 2,…) at the end of
the document; the captions may be on a separate page with a heading FIGURE
References: references to, say, at least three sources (such as books, printed articles,
or internet documents) should be given, but there is no upper limit. A numbered list
of references should be placed right after the closing section, with a heading List of
references, or something similar. Don’t put the whole address of a given reference in
the text, give only the number on the list; for instance: … as shown by Smith  and
later confirmed by Brown and co-workers ,…
There are no rigid rules for writing scientific or technical reports, or articles popularizing
science, new technologies, etc. However, there are certain “rules of thumb” that have
emerged over time. If you take a copy of any scientific journal, you will see that all
articles in it are composed in a similar manner, according to the same “general scheme”.
They consist of distinctive elements, or “building blocks”, that are arranged as follows:
The paper title, followed by the name of the author (or names, if there are two or
more authors), and her/his/their affiliation(s). The title has to give the reader a
general idea of what the paper is about.
Abstract: a single-paragraph summary of the entire paper. It should briefly
describe the question posed in the paper and the conclusions. It should be
possible to determine the major points of the paper by reading it. The abstract is
very important for the reader, because after reading it she/he usually makes a
the decision of whether the subject is of interest to her/him, and whether the entire
paper is worth reading (although the abstract is located at the beginning of the
paper, it is easiest to write it after the paper is completed).
The body of the paper – and it also has to be “structured”, i.e., it should contain
the following “blocs”:
(a) a section titled “Introduction” – it should explain why the topic
presented in the paper is important. And it may also outline the
“general plan” of presenting the material in the main part – for
instance, it may identify and briefly describe the “subtopics” that will
be discussed in it.
(b) The “main section” of the body. It may be a single section, but if the
general topic presented in the paper may be split into several
“subtopics”, it makes sense to divide the “main section” into
“subsections”, each one discussing a separate “subtopic”.
Note: In the past years, it happened more than once that the in
term papers students had written for me, some of them had used the
phrases “Body of the paper” or “Main section” as titles. It is not
appropriate, of course – if you don’t understand why :o) , please pay
me a visit during my office hours, and I will explain.
(c) A closing section, called “Summary and conclusions” (or
“Discussion”, or “Closing remarks” – whatever suits the author better).
Here the major points of the paper should be again summarized, with
a brief discussion (if needed) following, and then a paragraph or two
containing the final conclusions. A person writing a report or article
usually wants to pass a certain message to the reader – so, the closing
section is the right place to do that. Of course, the message should be
passed to the reader in an elegant manner, using highly logical
arguments, not “brutal propaganda”.
Additional sections, such as the list of references quoted in a paper (references are
very important, what is written in a good paper always has to be based on
trustworthy sources, and the reader must be given a chance to access those
sources her/himself. Also, if the paper is not in a final printed form, but in a
manuscript form, then putting figures and their captions in the main body may
not be easy. A common practice is therefore to put the figures – each on a
separate page – after the list of references and to group all captions on yet
As I say, this is not a “rigid recipe”, but time has proven that following the above “rules
of thumb” helps to attain maximum clarity of the presented material, and is also a form
convenient to a potential reader. In most cases, the reader “scans” the paper not exactly
“page by page”, but in the following order: title abstract introduction closing
section and only then the main section. So, the closing section is very often read
before the main section. It should be kept in mind, and the closing section should give a
reader an additional temptation to read the main section, in the case she/he has skipped
|Academic Level||High school|
|Paper Type||Critical thinking|
|Number of Pages||3 Page(s)/825 words|