Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Mark Chadwick

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Mark Chadwick

Sometimes it is overwhelming to compare, contrast, and synthesize all of the primary and secondary data you have collected. Try starting small.


  1. Identify one specific piece of primary data or one specific secondary source.
  2. Systematically compare and contrast (note similarities and differences) that individual piece with all the similar pieces (so all the other data or all the other secondary sources). If you have too much, compare and contrast to representative types of primary data or secondary sources.

For example, pick one of your scholarly articles. Identify all of the similarities and differences between it and your other articles. Points you might compare include:

  • Author: You do not necessarily have to see the same author, but is it the same type of author (e.g., academic with PhD, expert based on experience, etc.)?
  • Argument: Do the pieces argue for the same general idea/thesis?
  • Reasons: What reasons does the article use or sub-issues does the article cover?
  • Evidence: What types of evidence do the articles use?
  • Publication process: When, where, and how was the source published?

3. Share-out: Copy/paste or upload your results below in the comments thread.

One thought on “Micro-Analysis

  1. David Mann

    The main article that I will be comparing with other sources is the New Level Sensor System for Ship Stability Analysis and Monitor.

    Author: Having performed my research withing the Engineering Village electronic database, all of the sources were academic or professional in nature. All of the authors had some sort of higher education, with most authors having PhD’s. More specifically, the authors had PhD’s in fields related to their research, not to mention several years of experience. For example, the authors of Development of Laser Water Level Measuring System without Cooperative Target were all associated with the Shandong Academy of Sciences Institute of Oceanographic Instrumentation. Some of the other authors come from different backgrounds, such as naval science, maritime engineering, or automation, yet they all have some authority on draft measurement. This is because methods of measuring draft, like many other real-life scenarios, incorporate several various fields of study and practice.

    Argument: Each piece has a different type of argument. In the world of engineering, it is not valuable to repeat already-completed research. Therefore, it is the goal of each individual author to identify and solve a unique engineering problem. This is why some of the topics from my chosen articles may deal with uncertainty in measuring submarine draft while others deal with very specific means of determining draft without regards to the type of ship. Even though the authors may not deal with the same general idea, the goal of each paper falls within two categories: to analyze data and to design/implement possible solutions (the latter of which will also feature data analyzation). This is because engineering articles are inherently data or design-driven by nature. All types of problems could be identified and numerous theories may be discussed, but this is useless without giving an answer. Is the design physically possible? Will the design be effective? What advantages are there for this design over currently available alternatives? Such questions must be answered in an engineering paper. On top of this, data must be collected to back up any and all claims made by the authors.

    Reasons: The reason behind the New Level Sensor article is that a ship’s draft is imperative to the safety of the ship and her crew while at sea. The main reason draft is so important is because the structural integrity of a ship must be kept intact. If the draft is too high, then the ship runs the risk of hitting the sea floor or other obstacles. If the draft is too low, the balance of the ship may become an issue. This is a common theme that is repeated amongst most of my gathered sources. The authors all realize that draft measuring is a necessary function and that better methods of taking this measurement must be found. From this starting point, each individual author goes their own path of identifying a specific problem as well as a solution to that problem. The New Level Sensor article is concerned with designing a system without the inclusion of densimeters that will allow for automated pre-alarms. On the other hand, another article deals with how to efficiently and accurately measure ship draft by using fiber-optic cables. In the end, all authors wish to merely protect ship crews.

    Evidence: The main type of evidence found within the articles is hard data readings. The goal of most articles is to discuss different methods of measuring draft, so obviously this method must be proven to be reliable as well as accurate to within a specified amount. For example, the New Level Sensor article records measured data and compares it to actual draft, angle, and pressure values. It was found for this system that the data only had a calibration error of 0.25%, a very reasonable number. Similarly, the Determining Weight of Cargo Onboard Ship by Means of Optical Fibre Technology Draft Reading found that draft could be measured to within 10cm (a conservative estimate that covers all ranges). The existence of numerical data helps to back up the claims of the authors while allowing readers to better ascertain the effectiveness of the design.

    Publication Process: Each paper is either a journal article or a conference article. Both are highly academic in nature and sometimes even require peer review. Such articles are highly valued due to the extensive amount of “gatekeeping” which filters out any worthless information. Well-standing journals will not publish an article that has little to no merit. The New Level Sensor article was published in the IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement, the definitive source on topics concerning measurement. Alternatively, Development of Laser Water Level Measuring System without Cooperative Target was published in a conference, the 2012 Symposium on Photonics and Optoelectronics.

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