research paper. ( due in 20 hours)


Introduction to Paper Writing and Peer Review


Research Paper

Research paper/Review paper- high quality paper based on a topic associated with this course

Project should focus on a real-world problem or issue, which is analyzed and critically evaluated.

Examples- Engineering design/solution/product, technical issue, event, disaster, success story

Conduct an extensive literature review to identify key information on your topic. Must include all relevant technical and non-technical factors/issues involved in the event (causes and outcomes/impact on society).

Event/disaster- in-depth discussion of what led up to the event, the event itself, and what happened as a result of the event

Engineering design/solution- how and why it has evolved over time (technical and non-technical)

Discussion of relevant non-technical issues (ethical, health and safety, economic, cultural, environmental issues, political, social).

Topic is student’s choice, pending approval from Professor (Submit topic ASAP- due next class meeting, Week 3)

Sample topics posted on LMS


Steps in the Paper Writing Process

Planning and research

Writing a first draft

Editing and proofreading

Peer and professor review


Step 1- Planning and Research

Go-to Sites for Conducting Research


Google Scholar -

RPI’s library -

Science Direct -



Proceed with Caution when Getting Sources

You have to look at the sources and authors and potential mistakes and biases of anything you read, especially on the internet. A source that seems trustworthy can lull you into a false sense of security (lecture notes from other schools, YouTube explanatory videos, journals that turn out to be not-peer-reviewed, etc.)

Be careful citing websites – select reputable sources

Scientific material (peer reviewed articles in notable journals) vs. articles targeted at the general public that may or may not be based on scientific research (e.g., info from the Internet, trade publications, biased news sources).

Latter may be based on personal examples or have no “check” on the accuracy of the facts or logic of the arguments.

How do you ensure your information is factual?


Fact or Fiction?

by: Nick Robins-Early (Huffington Post 2016)

Notes: Unfamiliar websites plastered with ads and all-caps headlines should draw immediate skepticism. Googling a site’s name and checking out other articles it posts should also help determine whether it’s trustworthy. 

Searching through the author’s previous articles can show whether they are a legitimate journalist or have a history of hoaxes.


Wikipedia and Citation Chaining

To Wiki or Not to Wiki?

Wikipedia can be a great source of initial information

BUT, if you want to cite the information, find it again somewhere else

People can modify information posted, so there is a chance that the information has been falsified.

Sometimes you can find good information in the references

Citation chain process

Using an article's citations to find other citations; Hop from paper to paper by their bibliographies to find related and useful work.

Find an interesting paper or website (or Wikipedia)

Note the references

Follow them back to understand the background and history behind them

Find other citations or just names of other things to google


Step 2- Writing the First Draft

General APA Guidelines

Double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides.

Clear font that is highly readable.

APA recommends using 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Can use APA template in Word

Resources for APA Style

General Formatting

Video on APA Basics

Sample paper in APA Style


Major Sections of the Paper

Four General Sections of a Review Paper

Title Page-

Includes the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. It should also include the running head.

Title should be no more than 12 words in length and should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose.

Abstract –

Brief summary paragraph, double spaced

Approximately 150 - 200 words.

Main Body - Includes Introduction/Literature Review and Discussion/Conclusion

Introduction (80%)

Extensive literature review

Technical and non-technical issues

Discussion/Conclusion (20%)

Discuss what was learned from the literature review and why it is important.

Offer interpretation of findings, their theoretical implications, limitations of the research, and potential applications of the findings.


Appendix (Optional)


The Main Body of the paper should be 6-7 pages in length.

This does not include the title page, Abstract or Reference pages(s).

Total paper with all sections should be approximately 9-10 pages in length.



In-Text Citations

Within body of narrative:

Smith and Jones (2005) found that things aren’t always what they seem to be.


Things aren’t always what they seem to be (Smith & Jones, 2005).


“Things are not what they appear to be” (Smith & Jones, 2005, p.24).

Include quotation marks; Include page number where quote was found, or paragraph number if it is from a website.

When to Cite and When Not to Cite

Davidson Libraries

Reference Page

Lists authorship and source information for all items cited in paper

Provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source cited in the body of the paper.

References should begin on a new page

Number of References- Approximately 1 per page of text; minimum 4



Know what plagiarism is and do not under any circumstances engage in it!

Definition- the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

Put things in your own words (i.e., paraphrase), or use quotation marks if putting an idea in the exact words of an author.

It is not acceptable to copy a sentence or paragraph almost word for word from an article. Any time you are paraphrasing an idea that is not your own you must cite the author.

Do not “over quote” – Use your own words instead of quoting everything.

Plagiarism video from RPI Professor


Step 3: Editing and Proofreading

Iterative Process - Steps:

Create 1st draft of paper

Send to peer for review

Peer reviews/makes edits

Incorporate comments from peer reviewer

Note: Peer review comments are graded

Submit 2nd draft to Professor for review

Professor makes edits

Incorporate comments from Professor

Submit final paper (3rd draft)

Final paper is graded


Self and Peer Review

High level review, followed by detailed review

High Level Questions

Does the draft respond to the assignment?

Has the issue of interest been comprehensively discussed?

Is the paper complete in explaining what occurred/why/how?

Is the paper well-structured?/Well-written?

Is the paper clear and understandable? Does it flow well?

Are the main ideas clear and easy to determine?

Does the paper follow a logical and organized framework that allows the reader to move through the paper quickly with comprehension?

Are ideas adequately developed?


Does the paper contain all relevant sections? Does each section include the information it is supposed to?

Does the paper include a comprehensive literature review of the topic?


Does the author cite their sources throughout the paper?

Are there a variety of sources referenced? Quality of sources used?


Check for - Correct spelling, proper commas, proper apostrophes, complete, straightforward sentences (no sentence fragments, run-on sentences), noun/pronoun/verb agreement, consistent verb tenses, correct word choice.


Peer Review Specifics

What to include in your critique

Praise what works well in the draft; point to specific passages.

Comment on large issues first; Go on to smaller issues later

Concentrate on the most important ways the draft could be improved.

Be specific in your response (explain where you get stuck, what you don't understand) and in your suggestions for revision. Explain why you're making particular suggestions.

Identify what's missing, what needs to be explained more fully, what can be cut.

Include specific suggestions for what to include (e.g., recommend a relevant article).

How to criticize appropriately

Be honest (but polite and constructive) in your response

Be direct but also respectful.

Be critical- your critique will help make for a better paper. If that is not enough motivation remember that you are being graded on the quality of your peer review!

Note: Paper Review Checklist (on LMS)

Checklist of what to look for when reviewing paper/doing peer review