Jack Selzer and the Importance of Detail

Blog » Jack Selzer and the Importance of Detail

Posted on 19 Apr 2013 00:46

Jack Selzer, in “The Composing Process of an Engineer,” takes on the task of studying the thought process of engineers and scientists. He believes engineers and scientists haven’t been studied to see how they go through the process of composing a piece of writing. He had only one subject, Kenneth Nelson, an engineer from Chicago. For the methodology portion of the research, many forms of the subject’s written material were examined, as well as interview answers for before and after the completion of a writing assignment. The actual process of writing was also observed in many occasions. There was also a continuing dialogue, between the researcher and subject, about Nelson’s work and why he chose to write a certain way or why he answered a previous interview question a certain way. In organizing his results, Selzer chose to split the section into the four steps when composing written works: planning and inventing, arranging, drafting, and revising.

From the way he describes his methodology, Selzer seems to have taken a very meticulous route in order to understand every part of Nelson’s composing process. Because engineers and scientists are rarely observed as writers, he wanted to see if this group acts differently as writers. It might also reveal the steps that engineers take when solving a problem, rather it be a piece of writing or an engineering task/project.

Selzer’s methodology is indeed very thorough but he only studied one person. My research will have to balance the detail of the research and the number of subjects I have so I can make larger, more substantial conclusions. Because the truth is that, at in the very end, we only learned a lot about Nelson from the research paper. Selzer’s methodology showed me how much information can be extracted if a researcher puts in the effort to learn everything about the subject and to study the subject with immense care and detail.

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