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Technical Paper Writing - Becareful...

Recently, I submitted a draft technical paper to an international conference hosted by UTP. I have submitted the paper to the conference after improving it based on two reviewers comments. The paper was then chosen to be published in a journal. Normally, technical paper submitted to a journal will be evaluated by 2 to 3 referees related in similar research field as us, the author(s). I submitted the paper which I strongly feel is good enough.

Two weeks after that, I received comments from reviewers on my technical paper. Both of the reviewers stressed that I have to improve my English writing in the paper besides other minor comments! I was so surprised. All this while, I thought my English writing skill is OK. However, since 2 reviewers (and not one) said I have to improve my English, I went through my draft technical paper. I read line by line, paragraph by paragraph. Still, I thought my writing is OK.

Then, I seek my wife's assistance. She has better English command than me. She has been doing English proof reading and editing services. Since, she has completed and submitted her Ph.D thesis, she is more than happy to help me.

I printed the draft technical paper and gave it to her. Initially I thought my wife will be able to check my English in just a short period of time. Unexpectedly, she spent too much time on the first paragraph which is the "Introduction". She used a red colour pen and I observed there were too much red on the paper. It was like a major correction or huge overhaul of the 5 pages technical paper.

A job that both of us thought can be completed at least within 1 or 2 hours, were dragged to 7 hours. There were simply too much errors, poor message and content continuity, some spelling error etc. I was really shocked with how bad the English was in my paper. My wife, who proof read my technical paper did not expect to correct too much of it as well.

I became so stressed and tension!!! With some balance strength, finally, I managed to performed all corrections and email the technical draft paper to the publication committee of the journal. Thanks a lot to the publication committee for assisting and entertaining me despite of all the trouble and delay from my side.

Morale of the story

I would like to conclude some 2 morals from my story:

1. Don't be over confident with your work. There might be few errors in it. The errors can be technical or language. Hence, asked somebody to check the draft paper/thesis/article before you submit them.

2. When we are working on our thesis or paper, we will read it over and over again. As a result, we won't easily detect errors from our work as we have been looking at it too many times. This was what happen to me. I wrote the paper and edit it from time to time. When my wife checked, it contains numerous errors. Again, asked somebody to check our work.

That's it for now. This is really something I have wanted to share with my blog readers since 48 hours ago. Only now, I'm able to write it down. Now, I'm working on another technical paper to be submitted to a conference which is more related to engineering education. The due date is this Sunday. I'm handling the result and discussion analysis. I'm hoping to write more papers on chemical engineering education in future. What do you think of that?
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The Author


I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!

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