FE505 Technical Writing in Finance
Financial Engineering (Lab)
Fridays 6:30 – 7:30 PM
Babbio 122
After class as needed
  • Spring On Campus
The goals of this course are to reduce the anxiety that is frequently associated with technical writing and to teach students how to write research papers, technical communications and conference abstracts for the fields of financial engineering, mathematics and statistics.

The course strongly emphasizes the collaborative aspects of the technical writing and revision processes. In addition to grammar, syntax and writing style, students will learn how to structure technical communications, craft effective arguments, and discuss technical data and results. Throughout the course, the LaTeX typesetting system will be utilized in conjunction with the BibTeX reference manager for both writing papers and presentations. Finally, the course teaches students how to present their work to both technical and non-technical audiences by creating cogent, striking, and well-designed figures and presentation slides.

We will have 5 assignments in total. Our classes are on Friday, and assignments usually due exactly before the following class. I will not accept any late submission, however every student has one chance to get an extension until Friday midnight.
There is no exam in this course, instead we have a final presentation. Every student or group need to introduce an R package. You should learn the package by yourself, write a program and present to the class. Currently, there are more than 5000 packages available for R. You can choose any package except those we talked during classes. Packages related to finance are preferred. 
Remember R is a programming language, using enough comments is the professional way for programming. It will make your code easier to read, both for other people and for yourself. Please add sufficient and necessary comments in your code, otherwise you may not receive full credits. 
You are encouraged to have discussions, however, all code and reports must be written by yourself. Copying solutions from sources other than your brain is strictly forbidden. This kind of behavior will be considered as academic dishonesty/misconduct and will be dealt with according to the Stevens honor board policy.

Schimel, Joshua. Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Glasman-Deal, Hilary. Science Research Writing: A Guide for Non-Native Speakers of English. Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific Publishers, 2010.
Frank Mittelbach , Michel Goossens, Johannes Braams, David Carlisle, Chris Rowley. The LaTeX Companion (Tools and Techniques for Computer Typesetting). Addison-Wesley Professional, 2004.

To earn an “A” in the course, students must successfully complete all of the homework and in-class assignments. In order to emphasize the highly collaborative nature of the writing and revision processes students are encouraged to work in small groups. However, each student must submit his/her own assignment. In the even that a student does not satisfactorily complete an assignment, he / she will be given several opportunities to revise and resubmit his/her work. Only students who satisfactorily completed all of the assignments will earn an “A,” all others will be given an “F.” No intermediate grades will be assigned in this course. The impetus behind this grading philosophy lies in the belief that all writing, regardless of how poor it may be initially, can and should be improved. The most effective way to learn good writing habits is by acknowledging and finding ways to fix one’s mistakes. 

Week(s) Topic(s)
Week 1-3 Writing Boot Camp*: Review of grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, tenses, voice and tone. Introduction to LaTeX. Constructing parts, sections and subsections in LaTeX. Typesetting equations in LaTeX.
Week 4 Writing an effective and journal-specific introduction.
Week 5 Discussing Methods: What and what not to say. Displayed and in-line equations. Punctuation of equations.
Week 6 Discussing results. Drawing inferences. Cross-referencing equations, pages, figures and tables in LaTeX.
Week 7 Writing a conclusion.
Week 8 All about abstracts: what they are, and how and why to write them, different abstract styles for different journal and conference types.
Week 9 Creating effective figures and figure captions in LaTeX.
Week 10 References. To cite or not to cite: why, when, how, and whom to cite. How to create and manage a BibTeX library. Bibliographic styles. Formatting bibliographies in LaTeX.
Week 11 Editing and Condensing: Do I really need this sentence?
Week 12 Making Effective PowerPoint and Beamer Slides: the design aesthetic, what to show and not to show, structuring effective presentations.
Week 13 Researcher to CEO: talking about technical subject matter in a non-technical way.
Week 14 Getting your paper published: writing effective cover letters and ways to reply to referee reports.