Essay, Research Paper
One of the lesser known, but essentially important, fields in the
natural sciences is material science or materials science. Material
science is the study of the characteristics and uses of the various
substances that are employed in science and technology. Unlike many other
academic fields, material science correlates to many other aspects of other
fields as well. Without the tools to build the machines or the paper
on which we write, no other academic field would exist. There has been
much study and research on the subject of material science expressed
through academic writings. The three main types of academic writings
that are most prominent are journals, textbooks, and monographs, all of
which use very similar and dissimilar styles and methods.
Material science, like the natural sciences in general, has been
around since the dawn of time. Ever since the first cave man began to
examine a stone or twig, there was material science. The first material
scientists were not regarded as such, but were instead the ancient
artisans, blacksmiths, and metallurgists who forged the way for modern
technology. Stone tools developed into clay and ceramics, soon followed by
the discovery of metals. Alloys and glasses were discovered shortly
afterwards, which led to the dawn of the industrial revolution and
technology, as we know it today (Koch). Like in all natural sciences, new
discoveries and technological advances in material science is happening
Material science is based on both the tangible and intangible aspects
of substances, and thus, researchers and experts in the field rely
heavily on experimentation, artifacts, and the substances themselves.
Since no one was who was living in the prehistoric times is still alive,
researchers much rely on the artifacts and archeological findings in
order to study the advancements in material science (Sass 19). In order
to identify the basic crystalline or amorphous structures of different
materials, the materials must undergo different experimentations such
as x-ray or neutron diffraction (Guy 37-53). The examples of the
immense research and experimentation necessary in material science are
immeasurable. Also, in material science, like all other fields of study,
there are certain assumptions and understood concepts, such as the
existence an atom. Because there is no such thing as a perfect environment,
except in a vacuum, scientists also have to make many assumptions
involving these perfect or ideal situations, such as in ideal-solution
behavior (85-86). Researchers have to often make assumptions when dealing
with the history of material science as well. It is impossible to know
exactly how the first tools and materials were used or even how they
were discovered since there is no actual written record of events (Sass
15-17). All the evidence and assumptions, however, go hand in hand in
order to effectively represent the material sciences.
Academic journals are the most prevalent resource in material science.
The articles in journals on material science ask very specific
questions and their purpose is to discuss information about a specific topic or
to communicate research results. Stadelmaier and Austin?s Materials
Science Research is composed entirely of the proceedings at a Research
Conference on Structure and Properties of Engineering Materials. Since
the topics are so specific, the audience of academic journals is those
who are experts or professionals in the field. The organization for
most academic journals has a preface, table of contents, and the
individual articles. Each article usually begins with the authors? credentials,
an abstract, and an introduction. Then, the article is divided into
different sections followed by some type of summary or conclusion and
references; the entire journal concludes with an index. Some journals
also begin with an acknowledgments section and/or an overview. Different
journals may include or exclude sections depending on the subject and
who the editors are. For instance, Buncinell?s Composite Materials:
Fatigue and Fracture includes a ?keywords? section, which is not typical
in an academic journal.
Because of the advanced audience level and topic, the reader is
expected to already have a firm foundation on the subject, and the language
is often very complex, with extensive use of jargon. Very rarely is any
term defined in the article. The ideas conveyed in academic journals
are usually very difficult; however, they are presented in the most
simplistic way possible. The sentences are usually very concise and
complete, usually in the active voice. Journals are very direct and
impersonal, with a formal and detached tone; the first person pronoun is almost
never used. The titles of the journal articles are also very formal.
They must be long and detailed in order for a person to be able to just
read the title and know exactly what the article is discussing such as
with the article ?Metalorganic Deposition of High-Jc Ba2YCu3O7 – x Thin
Films on Single Crystal Substrates? (Heiras 13). The smaller typeface
and font also help to give academic journals a more formal tone.
Titles are usually written in bold with subtitles italicized, and
occasionally an editor will choose to use a different font in certain articles.
Several graphs, charts, and pictures, all labeled as ?figures,? are
used widely through out academic journals.
Books in material science are the most broad of all academic writings.
They encompass the larger area of information on materials and are
written to teach and inform. The audience is mainly for the student or
anyone with the desire to learn about the field. The purpose and audience
are usually directly stated in the preface or introduction of books.
For example, in Guy?s Preface of Introduction to Materials Science, he
This is a textbook for students in engineering, the physical sciences,
and the biological sciences. It is also intended for the practicing
engineer or scientist who wishes to obtain a background in the broad
field of materials. Its aims are to give and understanding of the nature
and behavior of metals, ceramics, and polymers, to compare the
characteristics of these materials, and to furnish a sound foundation for
further study and use of specific materials in technology and science
Books are usually organized with a table of contents, preface or
introduction, acknowledgements, chapters divided into different sections,
references, and an index. Guy also chose to include a section designated
for word problems dealing with material science.