Bottom-Up Design for Research Paper:
Conclusions first

Kris Stewart,
CS 583 3d Game Programming
09Feb 2011

Courses such as RWS 503W Technical Writing (Technical Communication: Situations and Strategies, Mike Markel, St. Martin's Press, 1996) develop the skills over a semester to design, write and present professional documentation. This is an excellent course that I would recommend to all Computer Science students for satisfying their Upper Division Writing Requirement for GE and tends to follow the Top-Down Design approach for documentation preparation. Within CS 583 you have course-specific constraints: 1) documents must be readable on a UNIX system, 2) documents are the Research Paper reporting your investigation of a paper related to 3d Game Programming Syllabus.

Development Cycle for Research Report

A Learning through Discovery approach that has been successfully used in this course is:
  1. Use Reading Exploration to gain familiarity with the topic for your paper.
  2. Refine your topic to focus on conclusions for your problem.
  3. Identify conclusions and make them clear
  4. Write body of report to develop terminology used in the Conclusions.
  5. Write introduction of report provide a succinct statement of the problem you are investigating and what you will cover in your Research Report. You want to entice someone to read your report.

I call this Bottom-Up Design because the initial focus is on discovering what conclusions you can make based on the readings for your topic. You can DISCOVER more by reading more. You can then refine your topic to produce nicely formatted information, to support the conclusions that you have decided on. As you obtain additional information, you just might discover more information about your topic.

The Order for Writing the Research Report

When you approach the actual writing of the Research Report, it should follow our standard format of: a) Introductory Section, b) Narrative Section, c) Concluding Section, d) Appendix (with well-index bibliography of your reading references). But take care to keep your writing focused on the conclusions you have discovered. Therefore, I recommend that the first section to write is your Concluding Section.
  1. Appendix (bibliography of the references you actually use)
  2. Concluding Section
  3. Narrative Section
  4. Introductory Section
The Concluding Section summarizes the careful arguments you present in the Narrative Section. The Narrative Section should not ramble, instead it should be focused on stating the topic, developing the terminology that you use to make your conclusion and establish the specific linkages with your statements (with references to bibliography) to support your conclusions. Your topic should be referred to in the Narrative Section by Bibliography reference number so that the reader can clearly identify the resource that convinced you of your conclusions. The final section that you actually write is the "Introductory Section" to entice the reader to read your Research Report.

The Order for the Reader of a Technical Paper

In the technical world, it is often the case that the first section to be read is the Concluding Section, to see if there are some worthwhile, interesting results. If the report looks interesting, then the Introductory Section is read to understand what the report is actually covering, then the Narrative Section, then the Concluding Section.

Once you have put a lot of effort into a topic and worked hard to understand new concepts, it is tempting to include everything that you learned in your final research paper. But this can lead to a lengthy document that dilutes your focus on the really important results that you worked so hard to obtain. [Highly recommend the Research Tutor and the Scholarly/Peer Review Journals items] Computing & Computer Sciences resources from our SDSU Library
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