5. Components of Technical-Scientific Writing
Aeronautical engineers and other engineering professionals spend much time on industrial research and development projects. In many cases, they have to document the results of their activities in written form. This leads to the need of tailor-made language training: “The ability to communicate clearly is the most important skill engineers and scientists can have. Their best work will be lost if it is not communicated effectively” (Van Aken & Hosford, 2008, p. 1; cf. Webb & Keene, 1997, p. 513). Founded on a needs analysis among process-integration engineers in the electronics industry, Spence and Liu (2013) have recommended that “reading and writing should be given priority”, while “speaking and listening should not be excluded” (p. 107). It is a core task of EAP and ESP instructors, therefore, to help engineers to write clear and effective technical reports, scientific papers and research articles.
The central question that arises is how teachers can best assist their students in becoming proficient and professional technical-scientific writers. There is certainly no single formulaic answer to this question, but at least three distinct approaches to writing pedagogy have emerged in the past and need to be summarised here. First, the product approach relies on a model text for analysis and the production of a parallel text as the desired end product; second, the process approach emphasises planning and draft-writing in order to constantly improve a text by peer-reviewing until it is acceptable; and third, the social-constructionist approach defines writing as a social...
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