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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 5.3.3


Use process in paragraphs to develop sequences that describe how an action is carried out or how something works. The following paragraph shows a typical sequential treatment of a general physical phenomenon. Note the concentration of process verbs such as to find, samples, sums, and provides.

Ideally, an image should contain a region of high-intensity pixels that form the target, and a low-intensity background. To find the target region, the algorithm first samples the images in overlapping windows and sums the pixel intensities contained in each window. The window with the highest sum is assumed to contain the target, and the average of the remaining windows is assumed to be indicative of the background level. Thus, subtracting the average of the window sums from the highest window sum provides a measure of the target strength over the background noise level. If an image does not contain a target, then the different between the highest sum and the average sum will be very small. The difference will also be small for images containing faint targets and high levels of background noise.

--M. Menon, E. Boudreau, and P. J. Kolodzy, "An Automatic Ship Classification System for ISAR Imagery," Lincoln Laboratory Journal

A more rigid process description, filled with technical terminology, may become experimental protocol, as follows:

Isolation of RNA

The homogenate was extracted twice at 4°C with buffer-equilibrated phenol; the first extraction was 1 hr. long and the second, 15 min. Two volumes of ethanol:m-cresol (9:1, by volume), added to the aqueous phase, precipitated total RNA overnight at 4°. The RNA precipitate was collected by centrifugation, washed successively with 70% and 95% ethanol, and dried over CaSO4 under vacuum. The RNA was dissolved in 0.015 M NaCl:0.0015 M sodium citrate, pH 7.0, and the absorbance at 260 nm was determined . . . 

--C. M. King et al., "Comparative Adduct Formation of 4-aminobipheynl," Cancer Research

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