University of Wisconsin–Madison

Writing Assignments for the Research Sequence in Engineering Physics

Professor Wendy Crone, Engineering Physics Sequence 468, 469, 568, 569

Notes on Writing Assignments:

Assignments: Various assignments are given throughout the course. Writing is a critical component of a successful research career and is emphasized in the majority of the assignments given.

Reflective Writing Assignments: All “Reflective Writing Assignments” should be 1 page in length (unless otherwise indicated), typed, single spaced, 12 point font, and 1 inch margins. It is expected that these writing assignments will incorporate good grammar and well thought out, structured paragraphs. All sources should be referenced in a standard citation format and included with the assignment.

Writing Assignments:

Reflective Writing Assignment: Meet with your research mentor and develop a common set of expectations for your research project and your development as a researcher. Write about the skills you will need to develop, how you plan to go about developing these skills, and the goals you have set out for your research project.

Reflective Writing Assignment: Ask your research mentor to identify a “good” senior or master’s thesis in the same general field as your research topic. Read this thesis and turn in a 1 page reflection commenting on the organization of the thesis, what you learned about thesis writing through your reading of this “good” example. What was done well by the author, and what modifications you would suggest to improve the thesis?

Writing Assignment: Find two additional papers relevant to your research interests; read them and write a paragraph that discusses the findings and how they are relevant to each other. This paragraph should be written in a technical writing style appropriate for inclusion in your proposal or thesis. Include the citations of the 2 papers in your assignment.

Reflective Writing Assignment: Consider class discussions, readings, and research experiences. What was the most surprising thing you have learned so far this semester about how research is conducted? How did this new information conflict with your prior understanding/assumptions?

Reflective Writing Assignment: Write a 2 page self-evaluation on your development as a researcher. Reflect on where you have been, where you are now, and what you will work on next in your development as a researcher.

Writing Workshops for the Engineering Physics Research Sequence:

Workshop on Writing a Scientific Paper/Proposal (Writing Workshop I): You will each need to produce a piece of writing by midnight on Monday for the writing workshop you will be participating in during class on Wednesday. Use the eCOW 2 Drop Box to hand in your writing piece including the cover page information discussed in the syllabus. All EP 469/568/569 students also have access to the files placed in this Drop Box. Read “Suggestions for Responding to a Colleague’s Draft” prior to reviewing your classmates’ work. Before class on Wednesday, you must read the writing pieces of all the group members you have been assigned to and come to class prepared to discuss the writings. You will need to come to class with a copy of your own writing piece and cover page as well.

Writing Workshop Cover Page Requirements: The following questions should be addressed in the cover page of the writing piece:

  1. What part of your proposal/thesis is this draft (for example, the introduction to my thesis; or the review of technical literature; or the first part of the results section . . .)?
  2. What are your *main* points in this section?
  3. What *specifically* are you happy with and do you think is working well in this section?
  4. What *specifically* would you especially like some feedback on or help with in this draft?
  5. Anything else your readers should know to read this draft in a way that will be helpful to you?

Follow Up Reflective Writing Assignment:

Reflect on our practice Writing Workshop and Writing Workshop I. Discuss the parts of the process that worked well and what could be improved. Consider Hughes’ “Suggestions for Responding to a Colleague’s Draft” and how it can be refined for technical writing. What are specific critical questions that must be asked for a proposal or thesis?