I am an engineering student in a non-English speaking country and I'm writing my master's thesis in English, as well as all related articles. I can't use the country's language nor my first language (I was raised in another country) because my writing skills are really lacking in those languages, and as my work as an engineer forces me to write in English everyday (it's still not good enough I think) I feel more comfortable using it rather than the other languages.

Currently I'm facing a problem with a "state of the art" chapter, where I am supposed to describe the current state of the field I'm working in and I have no idea as to how to begin. To write this chapter I read many articles and translated each article into separate paragraphs without any connection with each other. The result was ... lacking to say the least.

It would really help me if anyone could point me in the right direction as how to write a chapter like this, or provide me with good examples (apparently I'm not able to distinguish a good state of the art chapter from a bad or excellent one).

  • Side note: I'm not sure what you mean by "I was alphabetized in another country." To "alphabetize" something is to arrange a list in alphabetical order or to insert a new item into such a list. Unless you were stuffed in a file drawer in between "Morbius" and "Mordred", you probably weren't alphabetized anywhere. Maybe you mean you learned to read in another country?
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 21:33
  • 2
    @Jay I've edited the post to read "raised." I think you got the gist of the OP's intention, although that's a charming malaprop. :) Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 21:51
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    @Jay Hehehe. I think I wasn't in a file drawer. What I meant to say is that I learned how to read and write in a spanish speaking country and am currently living in a portuguese speaking country. Apparently a direct translation of the word was the wrong thing to do. What is the process of learning to read and write called in English?
    – morcillo
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 21:54
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    @LaurenIpsum Thank you for editing the question and calling my mistake charming
    – morcillo
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 21:55
  • @morcillo We'd say, "I learned to read in a Spanish-speaking country". If you needed to distinguish reading from speaking, you might say, "I learned to talk ..." I comprehend the problem of trying to translate a word directly from one language to another. But it did bring a fun image to mind. On the serious side, it is not uncommon for people to be lined up in alphabetical order by name, for example in school or in the army. But I don't think we'd say that "we alphabetized the students", more like, "We lined up the students in alphabetical order".
    – Jay
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


I imagine that you Master Thesis is about something, which is presented in a consequential manner. I would take the same order in which you describe your work and write the state of the art, point by point.

For instance, imagine you were to describe a new electric car engine. I'd start with a state of the art of cars in general, maybe grouped by purpose, and by type of fuel. Then I'd give the state of the art for electric engines, including other means of transportation, e.g. trains. Next, I'd give a state of the art of electric car engines. Finally, I'd give a state of the art of research and industry in all the relevant additional fields, e.g. some chemical reactions that constitute the core innovation of your engine.

I hope that helps.

  • 1
    It actually helps a lot. Ths question came about when I was writing my thesis and I was reading other thesis for suggestions as to what good writing is about and I read some where the reading was seamless and very entertaining, so I tried to do something similar and failed miserably. I have difficulty writing something fluent, it looked more like bullet points than anything else
    – morcillo
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 9:57
  • A very unrelated comment: an electric car engine has no chemical reactions. I know is off topic but had to mention it, sorry for that :)
    – Miloš
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 9:36
  • @Miloš why not? The coating of certain parts may be obtained by chemical reactions in order to achieve unprecedented thinness in the insulating layers.
    – NofP
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 12:00

Well, any self-respecting paper has a state-of-the-art section right at the beginning. Those are good models.

A good resource to consult is Darby, R. L., and Veazie, W. H., "Writing a State-of-the-Art Report," Materials Research & Standards, MTRSA, Vol. 8.

Also, see

Organizing Information: Principles of Data Base and ... - Page 54 Dagobert Soerge - 1985 - ‎

To write a state-of-the-art report, proceed as follows:

An example is here.

  • Could you maybe provide some URL and ISBN for the reference you are giving because it is quite hard to find. Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 17:56

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