Preparing a Technical Paper

Professor Fisher's notes for preparing a technical paper

Some advice for graduate students to think about when preparing a technical paper. When writing papers for your graduate classes you should be practicing skills to facilitate your ability to publish in conference proceedings, technical papers, etc.

  1. All papers should be proof-read for clarity and to eliminate typographical errors. If English is not your first language consider having a native English speaker proofread your paper for clarity. (This is particularly important for articles submitted to journals.)

  2. you MUST ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY correctly reference material that you have taken from another source. This includes text, figures, and tables. Under absolutely no circumstances is it appropriate/allowable to copy text from a paper/website without properly acknowledging the original source.

  3. Include captions for ALL figures and tables, and each figure/table MUST be referenced in the text. If the figure/table is important enough to include in your paper, then there must be some discussion in the text which refers specifically to the figure/table.

  4. Formatting counts. Poorly formatted papers are difficult/painful to read. If you are not careful in formatting your paper, why would the reader assume that you are careful in your experimental/modeling work?

  5. Use an outline to organize your paper. Sections should flow naturally - your paper must be organized in such a way that it is easy for the reader to follow. When a paper is difficult to follow, the reader will do one of two things: 1) continue to struggle through the paper, or 2) stop reading. Which would you do?

Stevens Lab