The fourth essay for the course will be a science essay. There are a variety of essay
genres in science writing. Without more experience in experiment design, only two of
the genres are suitable for first year students – the process paper and the classification
paper. Both will provide excellent opportunities to understand a particular interest in
video game-related science and technology.
Types of Science Writing
Science writing includes several categories. Most scientific papers use the IMRaD
format. IMRaD stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. This format is
used to describe an experiment that proves or disproves a hypothesis. In computational
science research, most articles or book chapters that use IMRaD are accompanied with
tables and graphs that present observed and recorded results, equations that the
author uses to interpret the data, algorithms that describe a computational process or
mathematical proofs that present the propositional logic that proves a deduction from
a conjecture or theory to a fact by logical reasoning. There are other types of scientific
papers. Here is a list of the major types.
Major Science Paper Types
1. Laboratory Experiment Paper (aka Technical Paper or Lab Report)
a. The classic IMRaD structure as described above.
2. Position Paper (aka Speculative Paper, Argument Paper or Theory Paper)
a. Presents an established theoretical framework and argues for its
acceptance, often in opposition to another framework.
3. Survey Paper
a. Examines a collection of papers (and perspectives) from a variety of
researches seeking to answer the same or similar questions. These are to
publicize the current state of the answers to the question at hand.
4. Process Paper
a. Describes and introduces a scientific process or concept. The writing is
directed to readers outside of the primary discipline of the research.
5. Classification Paper
a. Gives a rationale and system for organizing things into categories or
groups with descriptive labels. It considers the base model of things, and
then shows how the most basic differences create categories.
The Laboratory Experiment-based scientific paper requires some learning on the
methods of creating experiments, analyzing results, applying algorithms and
introducing mathematical and logical approaches to interpreting data – all steps that
await computer science students in subsequent course work. However, the process of
reading scientific papers can start during the first year of college. It just takes some
orientation so that students are prepared for reading in the sciences. (It is different
from other disciplines.) The instructors of the Computer Science FYS would like each
student to experience reading scientific papers as secondary sources and learning to
read an IMRaD formatted paper.
As you read Laboratory Experiment papers, we want to prepare you for the possibility
that you may not fully understand what you are reading. That is a normal condition,
even for faculty with years of experience. It is normal for one to read a paper with a
pre-selected color highlighter designated to highlight things that are unfamiliar and
not understood. Then, one looks in the references for the source material that might
better explain an unfamiliar concept. Or, one might use the internet to find more fully
elaborated explanations. Typically it takes 3 readings of a scientific paper to be able to
write about it, talk about it or use it in research. Typically, one might choose another
colored highlighter for statements that are core evidence to prove a writer’s
hypothesis. And, there might be another color for statements that the student could
use in their own paper.
Students in the First Year Seminar of Computer Science sections are required to either
write a Process Paper or a Classification Paper for their fourth essay. And they must
use three scientific papers as secondary sources.
The approach to the paper can take on an experiential approach by constructing a
participatory demonstration created by the writer or by creating a digital artifact using
a computer and any relevant software. (The student is responsible for acquiring any
software instruction for this project.) If the student creates a demonstration and/or
artifact, it must be documented with photographs and incorporated as figures in the
The following descriptions provide examples of Process and Classification paper
genres, nicely described on the Butte College *(Oroville, California) writing center
The Process Paper
A process paper describes to a reader how to do something or how something
occurs. Stages in psychological development [social, cultural and natural process],
steps in installing software [technical and scientific process] or carrying out a
marketing plan [cultural and economic process], or processes in science [natural
process] or historical change [cultural process], for example, could all be described in a
How-to’s and explanations
There are two kinds of process papers. The author of a how-to paper intends that,
after reading it, the reader will be able to carry out the steps in order to accomplish
something. For example, the writer of software installation instructions intends the
reader to follow the steps to successfully install a program. Here is an example:
How-to Example Excerpt
There are several steps you can take to get better help on your papers from an English
tutor. First, make sure you spell check and proofread your own paper, making as many
corrections and improvements as you can. That way, you won’t waste time discussing
diction “problems” that are really just typing errors. Next, read your paper again, and
underline two or three sentences that you are uncomfortable with and would like to
improve. At the same time, formulate two or three specific questions to ask the tutor,
such as, “What is a comma splice, and how do I fix it?” or “How can I make my writing
less choppy?” That way, you are taking responsibility for your own learning and giving
the tutor a head start in helping you. Similarly, if you have already received feedback
from your instructor on this or earlier papers, bring in the instructor’s written comments
if possible. Finally, don’t ask the tutor for proofreading or editing; the tutor’s job is to
help you master the skills necessary to do your own proofreading and editing. Instead,
try asking for “feedback.” Feedback might range from an explanation of your comma
errors to recommendations to improve your organization or thesis statement.
The second kind of process paper is an explanation. The writer of an explanation
describes in narrative form how something occurs, without actually expecting the
1 This description is excerpted from the following website:
Last accessed 30 October 2021
reader to carry out steps. The author of a paper describing how a nuclear fission power
plant works, for example, probably does not expect readers to be able to manage one
based on his explanation. To illustrate, the following explanation describes the
development of insecticide resistance in the garden:
Even non-organic gardeners should avoid broad-spectrum pesticides as much as
possible. Broad-spectrum pesticides immediately kill the most vulnerable members of
an insect population, giving the short-term impression that the infestation has been
successfully overcome. However, a few stronger and more resistant insects always
remain or recover. Poison-resistant insects breed with each other, producing offspring
that are themselves more resistant than the previous generation. After a few cycles,
the local insect population has become largely resistant to the insecticide. Meanwhile,
the poison has also spread to the local bird population through the birds’ feeding on
insecticide-drenched insects. Birds that would have helped naturally control the
insects die or fail to reproduce. And if the gardener switches to a new broad-spectrum
pesticide, the development of pesticide resistance widens to accommodate the new
product as well.
Identifying and organizing steps
Prewriting for process papers should focus on identifying the steps or stages in the
process and putting them in logical order. The organization for process papers is
sequential; the steps of the process are set forth in chronological order. (An
explanation process paper may end up looking a lot like a cause and effect paper, since
cause-effect relationships are by nature sequential. There is room for overlap among
various modes of writing, and seldom does a piece of writing “purely” represent one
mode only.) Once you have identified the steps, list them in sequential order.
If there is a trick to writing a process paper, it is to take the time to look at the steps
you have listed as if you had never seen them before. Imagine you know nothing of the
process you plan to describe. Read over your steps critically to see whether you have
omitted anything. Sometimes the most ordinary processes are the most difficult to
describe, as any writer of the “how to tie a shoelace” exercise knows! If you can, try
following your own steps to the letter to see if they do, in fact, bring about the desired
result. No cheating-if you must do something not already on your list of steps, add it.
Listing and numbering steps for prewriting is relatively easy. Describing steps in prose
is a little different. The use of “first,” “second,” and “third” is little more than listing;
there are a whole array of signal words, or transitions, to help you shed light on
processes. (Most of the following transitions are also suitable for narratives, which, like
process papers, usually use chronological, or time, order.)
● at first
● begin by
● as soon as
● at last
Notice the signal words and phrases in the following student paper telling how to get
to class on time (this paper combines how-to, explanation, and narrative elements):
Your success as a student begins with getting yourself to class, and getting yourself to
class begins the night before. Choose and lay out your clothes. That way in the
morning, when you change your mind (and you know you will) you will have already
started the process of elimination in searching for something to wear. This will save
you time. Set up the coffee pot the night before, too. That way, even if you’re not fully
awake in the morning, you won’t risk filling the coffee filter with something
inappropriate, like Lucky Charms. In the morning, get up, start the coffee, shower, toss
aside the clothes you laid out the night before (don’t blame yourself; really there was
no way to know then what you would feel like wearing today), rummage through your
closet, choose something, and dress. Next, dash to the kitchen, spread peanut butter
on a tortilla, roll it up, and take it with you out the door, for, in the wee hours the night
before, you poured the last of the Lucky Charms into the coffee filter and they are
irredeemably soggy now. Don’t waste time blaming yourself. Just start the car and go,
because 10,000 fellow students are vying for your parking place, and that’s just on the
freeway off-ramp. Follow the stream of cars into the parking lot and circle once or
twice to make sure a close spot has not been overlooked by earlier, sleepier arrivals.
Settle at last for a distant spot. Jog, don’t walk, to the coffee vendor and put your
money down. Inhale. Isn’t that a great aroma? Nothing like the percolated Lucky
Charms! Exhale. It’s still only five minutes to eight. Finally, stroll to class nonchalantly.
You are so ready to succeed. the
Once you have transformed your numbered list into prose as in the above example,
read what you have written to make sure you have not omitted anything. Revise by
moving or removing sentences if necessary, or by adding the steps or transitions
needed to clarify the process.
Process writing has very practical applications. Any application of process writing
requires attention to detail, sensible organization, and clarity of expression.
The Classification Paper
Classification is sorting things into groups or categories on a single basis of division. A
classification paper says something meaningful about how a whole relates to parts, or
parts relate to a whole. Like skimming, scanning, paraphrasing, and summarizing,
classification requires the ability to group related words, ideas, and characteristics.
Prewriting and purpose
It is a rare writer, student or otherwise, who can sit down and draft a classification
essay without prewriting. A classification paper requires that you create categories, so
prewriting for a classification paper involves grouping things in different ways in order
to discover what categories make the most sense for the purpose you intend.
An important part of creating useful categories is seeing the different ways that things
can be grouped. For example, a list of United States presidents may be grouped in any
number of ways, depending on your purpose. They might be classified by political
party, age on taking office, or previous occupations, but you could just as well,
depending on your purpose, classify them by the pets they keep or how they keep
physically fit. If your purpose was to analyze presidential administrations, you would
group information focusing on the presidents’ more public actions–say, cabinet
appointments and judicial nominations. On the other hand, if you intended to write
about the private lives of presidents, you might select information about …hobbies.
Make sure the categories you create have a single basis of classification and that the
group fits the categories you propose. You may not, for example, write about twentieth
century presidents on the basis of the kinds of pets they kept if some of those
presidents did not keep pets. The group does not fit the category. [If you intend to write
about all of one kind of object, you must invent the categories for classification so that
all the objects of a category fit into it, including attributes where the object of interest
has a null value.] In the example below, the group is “all U.S. presidents” and the two
categories are “those who kept pets and those who did not (the null value)”:
Some U.S. presidents have indulged their love of pets, keeping menageries of animals
around the White House, and others have preferred the White House pet-free.
2 This description is excerpted from the following website:
Last accessed 30 October 2021.
Alternatively, in the following example, the group is “twentieth century U.S.
presidential pet-keepers” and the three categories are “dog lovers, cat lovers, and
exotic fish enthusiasts.”
Among the twentieth century presidents who kept pets, presidential pet-keepers can
be classified as dog-lovers, cat-lovers, or exotic fish enthusiasts (for who can really
love a fish?).
Developing a thesis
Once you have decided on your group, purpose, and categories, develop a thesis
statement that does the following three things:
● names what group of people or things you intend to classify
● describes the basis of the classification
● labels the categories you have developed
Here is a thesis statement for a classification paper written for a Health and Human
Fitness class that includes all three of the above elements, underlined:
Our last five U.S. presidents have practiced physical fitness regimens that varied from
the very formal to the informal. They have been either regular private gym-goers,
disciplined public joggers, or casual active sports enthusiasts.
Order is the way you arrange ideas to show how they relate to one another. For
example, it is common to arrange facts and discussion points from most- to
least-important or from least- to most-important, or from oldest to most recent or
longest to shortest. The example thesis statement above is ordered from most- to
least-formal physical fitness activities. There is no one right way; use an ordering
system that seems best to suit your purpose and the type of information you are
For example, suppose you are writing about the last five U.S. presidents for a
psychology class. If you wish to show that these presidents’ public decisions spring
directly from negative issues in their personal relationships, you might order your
information from most private to more public actions to clearly establish this
connection. Or, if you wish to give the reader the impression that he is moving into
increasingly intimate knowledge of personal presidential foibles, you may choose the
reverse, ordering your information from public to private.
Signal phrases, or transitions, typically used for classification papers include the
● this type of…
● several kinds of…
● in this category…
● can be divided into…
● classified according to…
● is categorized by…
These phrases signal to the reader your intention to divide and sort things. They also
contribute to the unity of the paper.
Classification requires that you invent (or discover) abstract categories, impose them on
a concrete whole, and derive something new -a tall order that you can, nevertheless,
manage if you resist the temptation to skip the brainstorming steps. Remember that
clinical dissection is never an aim in itself; the point of classification is to reveal and
communicate something meaningful.
General Stylistic Distinctions About Science Papers
Computer Science papers rarely quote passages from articles. Usually, writers will
summarily state that a particular research question was answered in a study and
summarize the findings. In the mention, a citation will be placed using one of two
citation styles. See the ACM template below called interim-layout.docx that uses
square brackets and a number, like this .
Computer Science papers are terse and efficient language that focus on details that are
supported in quantitative data usually provided in tables or graphs.
Computer Science papers rigidly use the format templates provided by the conference
or journal connected with one of the two large professional organizations: The Institute
for Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE: https://www.ieee.org/) or The Association
for Computing Machinery (ACM: https://www.acm.org/).
Paper submission requirements concerning topics and length for the Science Essay are
below. Formatting requirements are defined in the document called
interim-layout.docx. It is also found here.
Example Paper Topics:
● How do game engines exchange data with the operating system to create
triggered animation, sound effects, music, user interaction?
● How is a shader created in a game engine to create a particular effect
● How does motion capture of the limbs or face work for one or several methods?
● What are path finding algorithms that allow non-player characters to chase the
player in a game? Same question, but choose another algorithm in games.
● How does volumetric capture work, and how is it shaping video game
● How do new game engines contribute to motion picture compositing for film/tv?
● What are the types of interfaces created for player resource management, such
as purchasing food, energy, weapons, ammo, potions, etc.?
● What are procedurally generated (PG) game elements (narrative, characters,
sound, music, dialog) and how do PG systems work for one kind of game
element of interest
● How are multiple-player online role playing games (MPORGs) able to maintain
the appearance of updated constant animation and sound without lag when
players are gaming across continents?
● How are player psychological effects tested before and after a game is released,
and what kinds of psychological effects are tested?
● The American Psychiatric Association now classifies video game addiction as a
behavioral disorder. How did they make this determination and what are the
steps toward a diagnosis?
● And many more…
● Length: 4-5 pages of writing, not including illustrations, tables, diagrams,
graphs or other non-prose figures. If there are no figures, total paper length
should be 5-7 pages.
● Figures: Must have written anchors in the text (e.g. “See Figure 4.”). Figures
should not be larger than what would fit in one of the double-column pages of
the provided template. Figures must have captions (e.g. “Figure 1: Amoebic
mitosis in each stage.”).
● References: A References section must appear at the end of the paper. All
citations must be in ACM style as shown in the attached template, which are the
square bracket numbers that correspond to the same square bracketed numbers
in the list of references. ACM style reveals and lists references in the order they
appear and are needed in the prose of the paper.
● Sources: At least one primary source must be a video game. The paper must
reference at least three scientific papers as secondary sources. The paper may
use at least one tertiary source to provide examples of an application of a
technology or scientific concept as defined in commercial media publications.
● The essay must use the two-column ACM template. Sections included must be
the following: “Abstract,” “Introduction,”
Discussion, the following: Organize the steps in the process of your essay under
essay. For example, the game design and development workflow has groups
titled: “Concept Development”, “Production”, “Level Design”, “Testing”,
“Revision”, “Implementation”, “Release”. Under each of those are the small
steps. So any of those could be titles to a subsection of an essay or could be
grouped together into a smaller number of subsections with titles like
“Development” with “Concept Development”, “Production”, “Level Design”
underneath. And “Distribution” with “Testing”, “Revision”, “Implementation”,
“Discussion,” the following: One of these subsections: “Background” or “History”
or “Recent Work” or “Previous Work”. Then, each category for classification of
your object of study could get a subsection title, or you can group similar
categories together under several super-category subsection titles. So an essay
about Resource Transactions could have categories for subsections like “The
Vending Machine”, “The General Store”, “Burglary”, “Relieving the Dead of the
● A little more about the Discussion section. It provides a rationale that justifies
the more debatable or controversial things that are not agreed upon by
members in the research community.
● A little more about the Conclusion section. It restates from the thesis the
effectiveness of the process at accomplishing its goals, or the usefulness of
creating classifications. The conclusion can also address future work that you
anticipate will be forthcoming in the research community that could answer
some anticipated important and pressing questions in your domain of interest.
For all essays in this class, you will be graded “meets specs” or “does not meet
specs.” Every essay will be given written feedback to help you revise this essay for
the final portfolio.