Tag Archives: technical writing

The 5Ws and 1H Technical Writing Approach

What should report writers consider in order to come up with a complete account of events? This article describes one of the popular technical writing approaches called the 5Ws and 1H. Read more to find out how it works.

While technical writing may be a challenge to many, there is a systematic way on how to go about it using the 5Ws and 1H approach. This technical writing approach helps you avoid missing the important details in your technical report.

Although I have not personally learned the 5Ws and 1H approach in technical writing while I was studying in the elementary, high school or college, I recalled that time the head of a security agency approached me and said something that changed the way I write about particular events that need clarification.

I was guilty of not being able to clearly explain the case of burglary in the place where I worked. And he pointed out to me, without directly telling me, that my report is inadequate.

Here’s a brief description of that simple message and how I learned to write better about events or any topic of interest.

The Event

Someone broke in the research facility laboratory and robbed it out of valuable items. It was only in the morning that the burglary was discovered. As the person tasked to take charge of that laboratory I was asked to prepare a report. I did so and gave it to the head of the security agency. He found my report inadequate and explained why it is so by briefly explaining how they usually make a report on incidents like this.

The head of the security guard agency quipped that in any event during crime investigation, like someone breaking into a house, or generally, a crime was committed to persons, the security guards are advised to provide answers to the 5 Ws and 1H.

I evaluated my report and it, indeed, is insufficient in providing the required information. I have to be conscious of the basic questions to ask and got to know the 5Ws and 1H of technical writing.

The Technical Writing Approach: The 5 Ws and 1 H

The 5Ws simply refers to the What, When, Where, Who, and Why of an incident and the 1H is the How of that event. If the answers to these questions are arrived at, the situation will be well understood enough to resolve a case.

Efforts must then be made to exhaust all the possible What questions that can be asked, ascertain the When, exactly find out the location to answer the Where, determine Who did the crime or Who was the victim, Why did it happen or Why was the victim victimized, and How was it done.

Using these basic questions as a guide, a technical writer can therefore effectively provide the required information to the reader as all facets of inquiry are covered. There may be some items that may be missed but the point is that at the very least, the basic questions are asked and accurate answers are provided at least as starting points for more rigorous discussion or topic exploration.

Now, practice this technical writing approach and you, as well as your peers, will right away notice that your technical writing skills will be better than before. This is a very useful tool you can use in writing your research paper.

© 2012 November 25 P. A. Regoniel

How to Write a Concept Paper

What is a concept paper? Why is there a need to write a concept paper? How do you write it? This article explains the reasons why a concept paper is important before writing a full-blown research paper. It also provides a step-by-step approach on how to write it.

I once browsed the internet to look for information on how to write a concept paper. It took me some time to find the information I want. However, I am not quite satisfied with those explanations because the discussion is either too short or it vaguely explains what a concept paper is.

Preparing a concept paper entails different approaches but I somehow drew out some principles from these readings. I wrote a concept paper in compliance with a request to come up with one. Nobody complained about the output that I prepared.

I was reminded once again when a colleague asked me the other day to explain what is a concept paper and how to write it. He needs this information because students have been asking him on how to go about writing the stuff.

To him and his students, I dedicate this article.

What is a Concept Paper and Why Do You Need It?

First, before going into the details on how to prepare a concept paper, let me explain what a concept paper is and why do you need it.

A concept paper serves as a prelude to a full paper. What is the full paper all about? The full paper may be a thesis, a program, a project, or anything that will require a longer time to prepare.

In essence, a concept paper is an embodiment of your ideas on a certain topic or item of interest. The concept paper saves time because it is possible that your thesis or review panel may say that your idea is not worth pursuing.

One expects that the concept paper should consist only of 1 or 2 pages. Alternatively, if you want to resolve some matters, it can go up to 5 pages.

For example, as a student you may be asked to prepare your concept paper for your thesis proposal (see 4 steps in preparing the thesis proposal). This means that you will have to develop an idea and express it for others to understand. You may glean from either your experience or from the literature that you have read. Of course, your topic should be within your respective area of specialization.

If you are a student of computer science, you might want to study the behavior of wi-fi signals bounced to different kinds of material. Alternatively, maybe you wish to create a simple gadget to concentrate signals for a portable USB wi-fi connection to improve its performance. Or maybe you would like to find out the optimum cache size for greatest browsing experience on the internet. The list could go on.

How Do You Write a Concept Paper?

As I mentioned a while ago, there is no hard and fast rule on how to write a concept paper. It is not desirable to have a format as your ideas may be limited by placing your ideas in a box. You may miss some important points that may not be in the format given to you. The point is that you can express to others what you intend to do.

What then are the things that the concept paper as a prelude to a thesis should be able to address or contain? To systematize your approach, a concept paper must have at least the following elements and in the following order:

concept

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1. A Rationale

You explain here the reasons why you need to undertake that thesis proposal of yours. You can ask yourself the following questions:

What prompted you to prepare the concept paper?
Why is the issue of such importance?
What should you be able to produce out of your intended study?

2. A Conceptual Framework

A conceptual framework is simply your guide in working on your idea. It is like a map that you need to follow to arrive at your destination. An excellent way to come up with one is to do a mind mapping exercise.

That brings up another thing, what is mind mapping anyhow?

A mind map is simply a list of keywords that you can connect to make clear an individual issue. It is our subconscious way of analyzing things. We tend to associate a thing with another thing. This relates to how we recall past experiences. In computers, we have the so-called “links” that connect commands in a computer module to make an application program work.

How does mind mapping work? You just have to come up with a word, for example, that will help you start off. You can begin with an issue on computers and from there, generate other ideas that connect with the previous one. There are a lot of literature on the internet that explains what a mind map is.

Now, after reading an explanation of the mind map, how will you come up with your conceptual framework? Well, I do not need to explain it again here because I wrote about it previously. You may read an easy to understand explanation and example here.

3. Your Hypothesis

Once the idea of the conceptual framework is quite clear to you, then you may write your hypothesis. A hypothesis is just your expected output in the course of conducting your study. The hypothesis arises from the conceptual framework that you have prepared.

Once you have identified the specific variables in the phenomenon that you would like to study, ask yourself the following questions: How are the variables related? Does one variable affect another? Alternatively, are they related at all?

A quick review of relevant and updated literature will help you identify which variables really matter. Nowadays, it’s easy to find full articles on your topic using the internet, that is if you know how. You can start off by going to doaj.org, a directory of open access journals.

Example of Hypotheses

Considering the issues raised a while ago, the following null hypotheses can be written:

1. There is no significant difference in wi-fi signal behavior between wood and metal.
2. There is no significant difference in browsing speed between a ten MB cache and a 100 MB cache storage setting using Mozilla Firefox.

At this point, you may already have a better idea of how to prepare a concept paper before working on a full thesis proposal. If you find this discussion useful, or you would like to clarify further the discussion above, your feedback is welcome.

© 2012 October 31 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (October 31, 2012). How to Write a Concept Paper. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2012/10/31/how-to-write-a-concept-paper/