You’ve completed your mechanical engineering study or robotics engineering research, and the results are all you hoped they would be. You believe your study will make an important contribution to your field. However, this will mean nothing if nobody knows about it. You need to publish your work. This article will provide you with some resources to help you prepare your research manuscript according to publishing standards.
Types of writing resources
Whether you are a researcher in electrical, civil, industrial, or any other engineering discipline, many types of writing resources are available to help you get your research published and communicated to your target audience. These resources include style guides, university-based academic-writing resources, and subject-specific resources for researchers in engineering fields. The most well-known of these resources are style guides.
Style guides are documents that provide guidelines for language and grammar along with formats and references and are designed to ensure document consistency. They specify how a document should look, from font size and type to section headings and citation formats. According to the Purdue University Online Writing Center, “style guides are used as a way of making common elements consistent across documents written by many writers, in many places, and in many circumstances1.” Researchers looking to publish their manuscript must adhere to the style guide required by their target journal. Some academic journals do not follow a specific style guide but have their own requirements. For example, electrical engineering research articles are often required to follow the guidelines of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and mechanical engineering research articles frequently follow those of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Therefore, it is essential to identify your target journal and follow the author guidelines provided by that journal.
University-based academic-writing resources are also available to help researchers produce publishable manuscripts. These can provide researchers with a deeper understanding of the style guides, help with more basic information, such as grammar and language, or provide technical writing tips. Finally, subject-specific resources are available related to mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and other engineering disciplines.
During your professional career, you will frequently see references to various style guides, and you will read articles in many different formats. Although you will need to follow your target journal’s guidelines for formatting and citations when you publish your work, as engineering researchers, you should become familiar with the following frequently used style guides.
- American Psychological Association (APA)
Published by the American Psychological Association2, this style guide is traditionally used by researchers in the behavioral sciences and business but is also common in other disciplines such as civil engineering, industrial engineering, structural engineering, and manufacturing engineering. The current (7th) edition of the APA manual is all encompassing and provides guidelines for all aspects of a manuscript, including formatting and reference and citation styles.
- Chicago Manual of Style
Published by the University of Chicago Press3, this style guide is commonly used by history researchers and occasionally by humanities and science researchers. Industrial engineering researchers sometimes make use of this style, and the Chicago citation style is used by several discipline-specific associations, such as ASME and IEEE.
- Journal-specific style guides
Once you identify your target journal, it is vital that you follow the publication guidelines specific to that journal. You can find those requirements on the journal’s homepage. The following are short descriptions of the style guides used by some of the most popular engineering journals.
Published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers4, this is the guide used predominantly by mechanical engineering researchers to write articles for publication in the association’s journals. While these guidelines specify requirements such as document formatting and submission procedures, the manual primarily uses the Chicago Manual of Style for formatting citations and references.
Published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers5, this resource must be used for submissions to any IEEE journal. This format will be used mostly by electrical engineering, telecommunication engineering, and robotics engineering researchers and occasionally by civil and structural engineering researchers. Although almost all the style information is included in the online resources, the manual also refers other issues to the Chicago Manual of Style.
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Guidelines for publishing in ASCE journals can be found online6 and include document, reference, and citation formatting requirements as well as comprehensive information on types of manuscripts accepted and submission requirements. The complete author’s guide is available online as a PDF file. ASCE journals are especially relevant for civil engineering researchers.
Other writing resources
Listed below are several more general academic writing resources that will be useful for engineering researchers when communicating or publishing the results of their work.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab – This extremely useful site includes resources for all disciplines. It presents tips related to all the major style guides, as well as helpful information on avoiding plagiarism and a section on writing in engineering, which includes a handbook on engineering research reports and a mechanical engineering writing enhancement program.
- Writing as an Engineer or Scientist – Published by Penn State University, this site provides a number of short films on specific writing topics of interest to engineering researchers. According to the website, “a large gap exists between what many engineering and science students have learned about writing in high school and first-year English and what is expected of their writing as professional engineers and scientists.” These films are designed to help close this gap.
- A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists – This book is a useful resource that presents an overall approach for writing scientific content in an understandable manner.
- Writing in the Sciences and Engineering – This website, published by the UCLA Graduate Writing Center, provides links to extensive writing resources for engineering researchers, including lists of online resources for specific types of reports relevant to specific disciplines, such as civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering.
Becoming familiar with using these and other available resources will help you follow the appropriate style and make the publishing process much smoother, thus allowing you to publish your engineering manuscript and effectively communicate your results to researchers and other interested parties for the benefit of all. And if you need expert support, Editage’s experienced editors can help you prepare your manuscript for journal submission.
- Purdue University. Purdue Writing Lab. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html [Accessed 8 February 2022].
- American Psychological Association. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/ [Accessed 8 February 2022].
- University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style Online. https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html [Accessed 8 February 2022].
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Journal guidelines. https://www.asme.org/publications-submissions/journals/information-for-authors/journal-guidelines [Accessed 8 February 2022].
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. IEEE Editorial Style Manual. https://www.ieee.org/content/dam/ieee-org/ieee/web/org/conferences/style_references_manual.pdf [Accessed 8 February 2022].
- American Society of Civil Engineers. Publishing in ASCE journals: A guide for authors. https://ascelibrary.org/doi/book/10.1061/9780784479018 [Accessed 8 February 2022].
- Alley, M. Writing as an Engineer or Scientist. https://www.craftofscientificwriting.com/ [Accessed 8 February 2022].
- A Scientific Approach to Writing for Engineers and Scientists. https://www.wiley.com/en-us/A+Scientific+Approach+to+Writing+for+Engineers+and+Scientists-p-9781118832523 [Accessed 8 February 2022].
- Writing in the Sciences and Engineering. https://gwc.gsrc.ucla.edu/resources/writing-in-the-sciences-and-engineering [Accessed 8 February 2022].