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Professional Languages And Implications For Engineering Management Education

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.334.1 - 2.334.4



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Paper Authors

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Ted G. Eschenbach

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Robert Madigan

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Patricia Linton

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Catherine Frank

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2642

Professional Languages and Implications for Engineering Management Education

Ted Eschenbach, Catherine Frank, Patricia Linton, and Robert Madigan University of Alaska Anchorage/Engineering Management Journal/UAA/UAA

English composition courses teach basic writing skills — often relying on the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. However, dramatically different writing styles have arisen in some professions, and skill with them must often be developed within the discipline. Often discipline- specific styles are linked to the discipline’s paradigms for research and practice.4 &5

For example, the MLA and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are distinct, and those styles are echoed throughout the literature of their respective disciplines. Students or faculty who have not mastered the appropriate style may find that their work is judged more harshly by their teachers or peers. Strongly technical disciplines such as chemistry and mechanical engineering place relatively less emphasis on writing and their style guides are less widely distributed. Nevertheless, violations of a journal’s or a proceedings’ style clearly affect a paper’s substantive credibility. Moreover, the potentially disparate technical styles are brought together in engineering management (EM), which does emphasize writing and which brings together technical, business, and behavioral elements for both practitioners and academics.

Literature Review

Contemporary English composition texts3 present the APA style as having standing comparable with the MLA style. To illustrate the ubiquity of these styles and their detail, the APA style manual was selling at the rate of 200,000 copies annually in 1990, and its 1994 edition has 368 pages. Obviously the APA manual was and is successful in presenting, in a logical, concise, and useful manner, the basic tenets of technical writing. Disciplines that are even more highly technical than psychology embrace the same basic technical writing principles that the APA manual purports. Indeed many of these disciplines use publications that reiterate writing principles that also happen to be found in the APA manual but that address the discipline-specific writing and styling needs of those who wish to publish in the field, such as biology2.

However, for our purposes it is more relevant to examine what is implicitly defined as good writing by journals in a variety of disciplines. This work is tightly linked to work Madigan and Linton4 & 5. Another particularly useful work examined journals in biology, sociology, and literary criticism1.

All engineering journals have explicit or implicit styles, and IEEE even publishes a journal on professional communications. However, there does not seem to be the same unanimity that prevails in disciplines such as psychology. Thus, we were unable to identify a comparable style that is defined as appropriate across the spectrum of engineering disciplines.

Eschenbach, T. G., & Madigan, R., & Linton, P., & Frank, C. (1997, June), Professional Languages And Implications For Engineering Management Education Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6748

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