Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE
Engineering Header

Guidelines for the Preparation of a
Civil Engineering Masters Research Paper

Students electing the non-thesis option must write a research paper following the guidelines described below. The paper and presentation cannot be done until the student is within six credit hours of completion of the M.S. degree. The topic of the paper must be on a topic relevant to civil engineering and must be mutually agreed upon by the student and the advisory committee. To select an appropriate project or topic, consider your interests, the interests of your faculty advisory committee, and data availability.

Students may submit to the advisory committee a research article accepted for publication or published in a peer-reviewed journal (not a conference) to be considered as a substitute for a research paper that uses the following guidelines. The article will be subject to the approval of the committee and may require some content changes to meet the requirements for the M.S. degree.

Content

The paper must include the following sections in this order:

  1. cover page
  2. abstract
  3. table of contents
  4. list of tables when five or more tables are used
  5. list of figures when five or more figures are used
  6. technical content
    1. introduction
    2. literature review
    3. methodology or analysis
    4. conclusions
  7. references
  8. appendices.

Any acknowledgments and disclaimers should be included immediately following the abstract. Each section is discussed in more detail below.

Cover Page

Include the title of the paper, your name, the month and year of presentation, and the name of the department (Department of Civil Engineering, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville). Arrange and format the page to look professional. See attached sample.

Abstract

Include a brief summary (maximum of one page) of the salient points of your paper. Include a statement of the problem, procedures or methods, results, and conclusions.

Table of Contents, List of Tables, and List of Figures

Include section headings and all text headings in the table of contents. Note that at least two subheadings are required in order to use subheadings. If you use more than five tables or five figures, include exact titles of tables and figures from both the text and appendices in their appropriate list. Include page numbers. See attached samples.

Technical content

The text (including the introduction, literature review, methodology, analysis, and conclusions) will be 15 to 20 pages, including figures and tables. A literature review by itself is inadequate.

The introduction should be directed toward a general civil engineering audience.

The literature review must critically review recent literature, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of previous studies, and/or suggesting alternative explanations for findings from other studies. The variety of literature should be diverse, including peer-reviewed publications on theory and practice. The students should consult with their advisor and advisory committee to define "recent." The literature review may contain subheadings, if appropriate.

The methodology section should describe in detail the approach taken, and emphasize either its validity or its contribution as a new approach. The analysis section should present the findings of the data analysis or comparative study and interpret the results.

The conclusion of the text should include original insight and synthesis of these findings with previous work. This section should also identify new research questions about your topic and suggest how future studies can investigate these unanswered questions.

Overall, the research paper should be of a quality suitable for a conference paper or for inclusion in a scholarly work such as a grant proposal or journal article. Use the following general formatting guidelines throughout the text.

  • Choose either block style (no indentation, blank line before and after each paragraph) or indentation (each paragraph indented, no blank lines), and use throughout the paper.

  • Use left-hand justification.

  • Place page numbers on the bottom of the pages.

  • Use double-spacing, except for quotes longer than 3 lines. For these types of long quotes, indent both sides of the quote and use single-spacing.

  • Limit the use of bulleted and numbered lists; apply consistent formatting when they are used. Single space the actual list.

  • Numbers beginning sentences and numbers ten and smaller should be spelled out; numbers larger than ten and numbers with units should be typed as numerals.

  • Avoid contractions.

  • Use abbreviations only after defining them the first time they are used, e.g., Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Citations
Plagiarism is the act of representing the work of another as your own. It may consist of copying, paraphrasing, or otherwise using the written or oral work of another without acknowledging the source. Plagiarism is grounds for suspension from the University. Immediately following each fact or opinion, cite the source. Place the last name of the author and the year in parentheses-e.g., (Morgan 1996) or (Panahshahi and Cross 1996). For more than two authors, use et al.-e.g., (Lin et al. 1996). See "References."

Tables and Figures
Give tables and figures relevant titles, and number each sequentially. Refer to each in the text, and discuss their content and pertinence. (You do not need the table or figure if you cannot find something of relevance about it.) Place each table or figure following the paragraph in which it is referenced or as soon thereafter as feasible; do not place them at the end of your paper. If any material is from a reference, cite the source(s) below the table or figure. Note that tables and figures cannot be copied exactly unless they are from a government agency or you have obtained written permission from the copyright holder. Use consistent formatting for the figures and tables. Format them to look professional. See the attached examples.

Do not include raw data in the main body of the paper. Raw data, if necessary, should be included in an appendix. Tables and figures should be representations or summaries of relevant and important data.

Headings
Use headings to separate sections of the text. The following are potential major sections:

  • introduction or background (containing introductory and background information pertinent to the topic and supportive of the objective)

  • problem statement (describing the objective of the paper)

  • procedure or methods (describing methods used to collect data)

  • results (discussing experimental or survey results and data analysis)

  • conclusions or summary (summarizing the major point(s) of the paper)

Each section (following both a heading and a subheading) should contain at least one paragraph.

References

Plagiarism is the act of representing the work of another as your own. It may consist of copying, paraphrasing, or otherwise using the written or oral work of another without acknowledging the source. Plagiarism is grounds for suspension from the University.

Citations need to be from reputable sources; use caution in particular when relying on internet sites. Do not rely exclusively on internet sites; use a variety of reference materials to obtain a balance, for example, journal articles, books, and conference proceedings. Include in your references all works you cite in the text. See the previous section for how to cite works within the text.

List the references alphabetically by the first author's last name. Use the format found in ASCE Author's Guide to Journals, Books, and Reference Publications (http://www.asce.org/Audience/Authors,--Editors/Books/General-Book-Information/Author-Date-References/);see one of the ASCE journals for examples (available through the SIUE library online). For Internet sources, include the web address; if the page is not dated, list the date as "undated" and provide an access date. Provide enough information in your citation so that readers can find all the references based only on the information provided in the citation.

Appendices

Include only information that is important to your work but is inappropriate to include in the text, e.g., raw experimental data. Title each appendix. If your paper has more than one appendix, label them Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.

General Guidelines

The following information is for general use in writing your research.

  • Write in the best possible technical and grammatical English.

  • Use consistent formatting throughout the paper.

  • Avoid orphan headings, i.e., a heading at the bottom of a page without text following.

  • Avoid split tables or figures between pages within the text. Tables of raw data should be placed in an appendix; these tables may be continued on subsequent pages.

  • Use a letter-quality or laser printer.

  • Obtain all necessary approvals from your employer, etc. prior to submission of the paper.

Work with your committee chair on revisions. If there are sections in which a committee member has had major input (e.g., data analysis), work with that committee member also. Give a final draft of your paper to your entire committee at least two weeks prior to your presentation. Note that you may be required to revise the paper further based on the committee members' comments.

Presentation (20 - 30 minutes)

Your presentation needs to cover the major points of your topic. Include a brief introduction as well as a conclusion or summary. Follow standard, accepted guidelines for visual aids. See, for example, Stuart G. Walesh's Engineering Your Future: Launching a Successful Entry-Level Technical Career in Today's Business Environment (Prentice Hall, 1995) and J. Campbell Martin's The Successful Engineer: Personal and Professional Skills-A Sourcebook (McGraw-Hill, 1993). A Proxima Projector is available for PowerPoint presentations.

It is your responsibility to organize your presentation, including finding a time that meets the advisory committee members' schedules and ensuring that a room is reserved. Post several flyers in the Engineering Building notifying students and faculty of your presentation.

TITLE OF PAPER

by

Your Name

Month Year

A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Master of Science Degree
Department of Civil Engineering
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ABSTRACT …………………………………………………………………….… i

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS …………………………………………………………

LIST OF TABLES ……………………………………………………………….. #

LIST OF FIGURES ……………………………………………………………… #

CHAPTER

  1. INTRODUCTION …………………………………………………....……..#

Subheading ……….………………………………………..................…. #
Subheading ……….……………………………………….............……. #
Subheading ……….……………………………………............………. #

  1. MAJOR HEADING ……………………………………………………….#

Subheading ……….……………………….……...........………………. #
Subheading ……….……………………………………………………. #
Subheading ……….……………………………………………………. #

  1. MAJOR HEADING ……………………………………………………….#

Subheading ……….……………………………………………………. #
Subheading ……….……………………………………………………. #
Subheading ……….……………………………………………………. #

  1. REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………#
  2. APPENDICES ……………………………………………………………#

A. Title …..……….……………………………………………………. #
B. Title …..……….……………………………………………………. #
C. Title …..……….……………………………………………………. #

1

1