GENERAL TOPICS

How to Write a Seminar Paper, a Research Proposal and a Thesis

Contents

  1. Your Seminar Paper
  2. Your Research Proposal
  3. Your Thesis
  4. Good Writing Style

Your Seminar Paper

A seminar is a small group of students and teachers. A seminar paper is a record of what you say to the group about a topic you have studied.

Preparing a seminar paper gives you practice in technical writing which will help you when you write your thesis. For information on format see the instructions at the end of each issue of the Asian Journal of Energy & Environment, or any other international journal.

Title

The title of your seminar paper should state your topic exactly in the smallest possible number of words.

Author's Name

Put your name, your ID number, the name of your department, and the name of your university under the title.

Abstract

The abstract should state the most important facts and ideas in your paper. It should be complete in itself. The length of the abstract should be about 200 words. The abstract should state clearly:

Do not put information in the abstract which is not in the main text of your paper. Do not put references, figures, or tables in the abstract.

Text

The main text of your paper should be divided into sections, each with a separate heading.

The first section should be an introduction to your topic. This section should review the background of your topic and give an outline of the contents of your paper.

You should get the information for your paper from various sources, such as books, journals, lecture notes, etc. You must write the paper yourself using this information. You must not copy text written by other authors. Instead, select only the information you need and summarize this information in your own words.

The final section of your paper should summarize your conclusions.

Symbols and Units

Write mathematical equations in the simplest possible way so that they can be typed easily. Every mathematical symbol you use must be defined in the text. Use S. I. units for physical quantities.

References

You must give references to all the information that you obtain from books, papers in journals, and other sources. References may be made in the main text using index numbers in brackets.

Put a list of references, numbered as in the main text, at the end of your paper. The information you give in this list must be enough for readers to find the books and papers in a library or a data base.

For a journal paper give:

  1. the names of the authors,
  2. the year of publication,
  3. the title of the paper,
  4. the title of the journal,
  5. the volume number of the journal,
  6. the first and last page numbers of the paper.

For a book give:

  1. the author,
  2. the year of publication,
  3. the title, and the edition number if there is one,
  4. the name of the publisher,
  5. the page numbers for your reference.

For an internet reference give:

  1. the author of the web page,
  2. the date of the web page,
  3. the title of the web page,
  4. the complete URL.

Every reference in your main text must appear in the list at the end of your paper, and every reference in the list must be mentioned in your main text.

Tables

Tables must have a number and a caption above the table. The reader should be able to understand the table by reading the caption without looking at the main text. Every table must be mentioned in the main text.

Figures

Figures must have a number and a caption below the figure. The reader should be able to understand the figure by reading the caption without looking at the main text. Every figure must be mentioned in the main text.

Recommended Procedure for Writing a Paper

  1. Write your title first. This will define your topic clearly and focus your mind on exactly what you want the paper to contain.
  2. Search the literature and select the references on which the contents of yor paper will be based. Write your list of references.
  3. Make a list of your section headings and subheadings. This list will define the organization of the contents of your paper. The sections and subsections will contain not only material collected from other sources but also accounts of new work you have done:-- your observations, analysis of data, and conclusions.
  4. Write the sections and subsections one by one in a simple clear style. Remember that the reader does not know in advance any of the details of the work you have done, so your account must be complete and easy to understand.
  5. Write the abstract last by picking out the main points in your paper.

Your Research Proposal

The purpose of the research proposal is to show your examiners that you can do good research for your thesis. The proposal must be a well written document (like an extended paper or a thesis) containing a thorough study of your research topic.

Guidelines for Writing a Proposal


Your Thesis

A thesis is a complete record of the research you have done for a postgraduate degree. It should contain

The chapters of your thesis should be numbered 1, 2, 3, ... ; the sections in the chapters should be numbered 1.1, 1.2, ... ; 2.1, 2.2, ... ; 3.1, 3.2, ... ; etc.).

References must be made in the main text of your thesis wherever you refer to the work of other researchers, or use information from other sources. These references are usually required in every chapter of the thesis. The references are made by giving the names of the authors and the years of publication in the main text. In a thesis with a large number of references this method is easier to manage than the method using index numbers. The full references are listed at the end of the thesis in alphabetical order of the authors' names.

The First Chapter should give:

The Middle Chapters should give detailed information about your work so that other people could repeat what you have done, or could do further work starting where your work finished. In these chapters you should

The Last Chapter should:


Good Writing Style

Short scientific articles, such as the sections in a paper or in the chapters in a thesis, have a title and a number of paragraphs. The title indicates the main topic in the article. The first sentence in each paragraph indicates what the paragraph is about. The other sentences give facts and reasoning about the topic of the paragraph.

EXAMPLE

The Growing Hole in the Ozone Layer

Scientists at NASA have recently detected the largest-ever hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. The ozone protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The hole in this protective layer is blamed on human-made chlorine compounds such as refrigerants and aerosol sprays.
Chlorine is present in the ozone layer in forms that do not affect ozone. But in early winter, when it is very cold, clouds form in the stratosphere. The chlorine gases collect on cloud particles; there they are converted into forms that are extremely destructive to ozone. Sunlight over Antarctica then triggers the reactions that destroy the ozone.
The size of the hole in the ozone layer used to be about 12 million square kilometers covering only Antarctica (1985). Now (2000) the size of the hole is 28 million square kilometers. The growing hole has reached the tip of South America and is approaching New Zealand.

[This example is based on an article in the Bangkok Post, 2001.]

Analysis of this Example

The title indicates (1) that the article is about the hole in the ozone layer and (2) that the hole is growing.

The first sentence in the first paragraph indicates that the paragraph is about the detection of the largest-ever hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. The remaining sentences in the paragraph give more facts about this topic:

The first sentence in the second paragraph indicates that the paragraph is about chlorine in the ozone layer. The remaining sentences explain how chlorine destroys ozone.

In the third paragraph the first few words indicate that the paragraph is about the size of the hole in the ozone layer. The rest of the paragraph gives data on the size of the hole.

EXERCISE

The following paragraphs are about the formation of fog. The information contained in the two paragraphs is similar but not exactly the same, and the information is presented in different ways. Write a paragraph of your own about the formation of fog based on these passages.

"Most fog formation involves the withdrawal of heat from the air, mainly through cooling of the ground by radiation and movement of the air over the colder ground. The temperature of the air in contact with the ground is cooled to the dew point temperature where saturation is reached. In contrast, we have seen that stratus and cumulus clouds above the ground form when air is lifted to the condensation level." [Based on: H. Reihl, Introduction to the Atmosphere, 1978]
"Unlike thick, rain-producing clouds, which are characteristically formed by the expansion and cooling of rising air, fog is usually caused by the cooling of humid surface air below its dew point temperature. This cooling can result from radiational processes, from the mixing of warm and cool air masses, or from warm moist air moving over a cooler surface." [Based on: G. T. Trewartha & L. H. Horn, An Introduction to Climate, 1980]


By R. H. B. Exell, 2001. King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi.
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