Analysis Of Academic Writings In Material Science

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

specifically states,

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.


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