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Hank Walker Ford Motor Company Design Professor II and Department Head Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

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Presentation on theme: "Hank Walker Ford Motor Company Design Professor II and Department Head Department of Computer Science and Engineering."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hank Walker Ford Motor Company Design Professor II and Department Head Department of Computer Science and Engineering

2  Research Papers  Technical Reports  Reports  Vary tremendously in length/scope  Long report about work of a committee  Short report about a particular topic  Vary in purpose  Technical Documentation  Design  Development  Users  White Papers  Memos  Web Sites  etc.

3  The type of writing you do will vary depending on many factors  Difficult to give universal structure  But, there are some things common to most or all writing


5  Probably the most important thing to consider.  This will determine everything from structure to individual word choice.  You think about this before you begin to write anything!  You are writing for the audience, not for yourself.

6  What will be the background of those reading this work?  What prior knowledge will they have?  What expectations will they have?  What do I need to tell them so that they can understand the paper?  What is the reason someone will read this document?  What information is most important to convey to the reader?  What will the “life” of this document be?  Will the audience change? Will the document change?


8  The way you structure a document can have more effect than the actual sentences it contains.  Again, think about the goals of a person reading.  How would they expect the document to be organized?  What do they need to do with the document?

9  Technical papers are not novels.  With rare exceptions of short memos, people will not just sit down one day and read your document from beginning to end.

10  First: Read Title  Second: Read Abstract  Third:  a. Browse figures/captions  b. Review citations  Fourth: Read small portions to get main idea  Only if someone is really interested do they sit down and read the whole paper from start to finish.

11 1. Look at the Title 2. Check either: A. Index B. Table of Contents 3. Find section with the specific material needed 4. Find relevant subsection within that section Then, read the material of relevance.

12  Make it easy for someone to understand the structure of the document  Follow conventions  Clearly label/section document  Find information they want within the document

13  Use White Space  Indentation  Line breaks  Page breaks  Keep paragraphs short  Use lists, bullet points  Maintain clear section headings.


15  There are three stages of presentation: 1. Attract Attention 2. Create Interest 3. Convey Information  Importance:  You don’t get to stage 2, unless you satisfy stage 1  You don’t get to stage 3, unless you satisfy stage 2  Although stage 3 is the most important, it’s pointless unless you meet the first two stages.  Applies to posters/presentations, but also to papers

16  The RESEARCH !  You have to have some purpose for writing  However, people will not learn about the research unless they actually read your paper  This also has implications for how and where you publish your paper

17  We will discuss some specifics for writing research papers.  This is commonly done in graduate school.  Material developed for graduate students  But, many principles carry forward to other writing



20  Title  Abstract  Introduction  Previous Work  Possibly including background information  Main Work (ideas/theory/exposition)  Possibly in several sections  Implementation  If needed  Results  Possibly combined into main work section  Conclusion  With future work  Acknowledgements  References  Appendices

21  Don’t underestimate title importance  Memorable titles can help people remember the paper  The title will be used for searching, later  Remove unnecessary words  Watch for misleading words

22  Motivation and Summary  By the end of the introduction, someone should be able to tell someone else what you did, and why.  But probably not give any details about how  Keep the introduction short, relative to the rest of the paper.

23  Early on in the paper, you must make the case for why you are doing this  This should not be too long  If you have to spend too long to say why someone should read the paper, then there’s probably not a good reason  The motivation is not why you are writing the paper, it’s just there to get people to read it  Sometimes this is more important than other times – sometimes motivation is obvious

24  You want to make it clear what the main results of your paper are.  Don’t “hide” them or make them a “surprise” at the end  Remember, most people will not read your full paper – you still want them to know the main results  Should always be in the abstract  Should be in the introduction of the paper  Main Results, Contributions, Thesis Statement  Can be in the conclusion

25  Could be a subsection, a paragraph, a bulleted list, or a sentence  Should be easy to find/locate  Should make clear what is the new, unique contribution of this work  It is not a summary of everything you’ve done, or even a summary of the paper  Just list the key point(s) that are new to your work.

26  A short statement that summarizes what the focus of the paper is  Can help to focus your writing, presentation, and research  The goal of the paper is to show why the thesis statement is important and true ( or false… )

27  Provide references to relevant material  What are the key papers that someone should read to understand this?  What are the most relevant related papers/alternatives?  Demonstrate that you are familiar with the main research in the area  Ensure you cite all the relevant work  Especially the papers of those who will read yours…  Can’t cite everything; cite the most important things  Usually, citations to textbooks aren’t needed  Unless that textbook provides a unique derivation, a particular summary, etc.

28  If necessary provide background summary of prior work  For example, if you are building on your own prior work  Make sure that prior work is separated from new work  You want to clearly delineate what is new vs. what is old.  When giving citations to previous work, it is good to show how your work fits in with that prior work.

29  This is the main, core part of your paper  It should be the part that you are most confident in, and have the most to say about  It is important that you are clear and accurate.

30  You are not just presenting a list of what you did.  Every piece of research has lots of “infrastructure” work that goes on behind it – you don’t need to go into this, unless it is critical  You don’t need to discuss “dead end paths” that you pursued  One exception is if it is very likely someone else would follow that dead end path  You research is evaluated on results, not process.

31  You want to develop your material clearly  Usually, someone will read this section in order  Don’t pull ideas/material from nowhere  Make sure that information is presented in a logical order  Think of it as telling a (technical) story:  Keep the story moving  Don’t refer to things that the reader has no knowledge of  Make sure the reader understands what has happened!

32  Avoid tangential topics  Make the section about the main results, not the interesting “side” items  Use appendices if necessary  Make sure there is a clear overview  Avoid going directly into details if the person doesn’t have the overall picture  Often, overview sections or figures are helpful

33  You want to demonstrate all of the core ideas that you discussed in practice  If you discussed something, show the results  Idea is to show that what you presented works, and give some sense of how well it works  Pick good test cases, that cover a range of situations  Ones that allow comparison  Ones that allow evaluation of parts of your technique  Ones that simulate “real world” cases  You need to provide comparisons to other work, whenever possible  This lets people evaluate your work

34  Now that we have seen the work in the paper, what can we conclude ?  What has been the “contribution” of this work?  What insights does this work offer?  What does this now allow us to do?  Conclusion should not be just a summary of what was in the paper – that is obvious.

35  Usually part of the conclusion  Not always included, but a good idea if possible  People want to know that the paper is not a “dead end”  What more could be done? If I like this area, what could I work on next?  Is this likely to stimulate future work?  Can be a “defense” against reviewers.

36  Avoid using “throwaway” future work  In computer science, you can always say you want to improve performance, port to a new system, or integrate with something else.  Better to have one or two solid areas for future work than 10 that aren’t developed.  Don’t just state areas, give some indication of the challenges/opportunities  Why will that be worthwhile?  What are some obstacles that will be faced in that extension?


38  Make sure you are writing to the appropriate audience  Usually, this is to other researchers in the field  Not to novices – they will know the basics of the field  Not necessarily to just the foremost experts in the area – they will not be familiar with every bit of prior work  Not to experts in all areas – they may not be familiar with simpler concepts from other fields  Some papers (e.g. literature reviews) are for more general, less expert, audiences

39  Give them the background they need to understand the paper  Particularly if you rely on another technique; don’t make them read other papers before they can read yours  Not always possible – sometimes there is too much to do  Notation might not be standardized  Explain the notation as needed  The concepts might already be known

40  Do not oversell your work  Do not promise more than you deliver  Do not try to make your work have more impact than it reasonably does  You probably have a higher opinion of your work than others do or ever will.  Readers are annoyed if they spend their time reading your article, only to find it didn’t do what was promised.

41  Do not undersell your work  Don’t put in so many disclaimers that you discourage someone from reading/following it  Point out problems, especially key ones, but:  Your goal is not to point out every conceivable flaw  If necessary, point out why problems might not be so bad  You are writing the paper because you have something new to present, that others should find valuable.

42  Those reading the paper will often have questions/objections.  You want to answer/address these in the paper  This is key to getting the paper accepted through review, but also for getting the paper accepted after publication

43  Think: “If I were a reviewer, what would I have questions about?”  Find a way to address those directly  If they are technical concerns and you have not addressed them in the work, show that you’ve thought about them  What examples should be included?  What tests should be provided?

44  People will usually look at figures before they read the text  You want the figures to stand on their own as much as possible  Be sure that your captions clearly describe what is in the figure. Do not rely on the text to describe the figure.

45  Always a tricky proposition  Your goal in the paper is to show how good your work is. You have spent a great deal of time on your own approach.  You must be fair to prior work, but you probably can’t devote as much effort to replicating it.  If standardized comparisons can be made, use them  If you implement another method for comparison, be sure to do your best with it  If not, be sure to clearly state what you did not do, and why.

46  It is not OK to just present your material and assume it should be accepted  That does not show any new contribution over the state of the art  Exception: if it is truly the first time someone has accomplished something  If you cannot provide comparisons, at least provide concise, clear arguments that evaluate your method vs. other methods.

47  If possible, get someone else to read your work  They should be willing to give direct, honest feedback  Take their evaluations to heart  When reviewers reply with objections, don’t blame the reviewer  If the reviewer didn’t understand it, it’s probably your fault  Make sure that you address their concerns  Sometimes it is only a style/writing issue!  Sometimes they have found more fundamental flaws  Even these can sometimes be addressed by writing differently.  There are (very rare) exceptions where reviewers are way off  Always be polite and respectful in your responses, anyway


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