Read the Guidelines Ever taken a shirt out of the dryer to find it has shrunk 10 sizes too small? What is your teacher looking for in your essay? Are there any specific things you need to include? Write an essay on my favorite place to travel?? Questions on questions on questions. The idea is that you get to the root of whatever you are talking about so you can write a quality essay on it. Not so easy, right? Break your questions down. This is how you can achieve quality research.
Do the research It IS a research paper, after all. Not every piece of information on the internet is true, or accurate.
WHO Who is the author of the source? What are they known for? Do they have a background in the subject they wrote about? Numbers and measurements Digits of precision: Don't report more digits of precision than the measurement process reliably and reproducibly produces.
The 3rd or 4th digit of precision is rarely accurate and generalizable; if you don't have confidence in it, omit it. Don't report more digits of precision than needed to convey your message. If the difference between 4. Reporting extra digits can even distract readers from the larger trends and the big picture.
Including an inappropriate number of digits of precision can cast suspicion on all of your results, by giving readers the impression that you are statistically naive. Use a consistent number of digits of precision. If the measured data are 1. Often it's appropriate to report percentages as whole numbers rather than using the same precision.
If you do any computations such as ratios, you should internally use the full precision of your actual measurements, but your paper will report only a limited number of digits of precision. If a measurement is exact, such as a count of items, then it can be acceptable to give the entire number even if it has many digits; by contrast, timings and other inexact measurements should always be reported with a limited number of digits of precision.
Do not confuse relative and absolute measurements. You could report that your medicine's cure rate is. I would avoid these terms entirely. Given the great ease of misunderstanding what a percentage means or what its denominator is, I try to avoid percentages and focus on fractions whenever possible, especially for base measurements.
For comparisons between techniques, percentages can be acceptable. Avoid presenting two different measurements that are both percentages but have different denominators. Processing data Your paper probably includes tables, bibliographies, or other content that is generated from external data. Your paper may also be written in a text formatting language such as LaTeX.
In each of these cases, it is necessary to run some external command to create some of the content or to create the final PDF. All of the steps to create your final paper should be clearly documented — say, in comments or in a notes file that you maintain with the paper — and, preferably, should be automated so that you only have to run one command that collects all the data, creates the tables, and generates the final PDF.
If you document and automate these steps, then you can easily regenerate the paper when needed. This is useful if you re-run experiments or analysis, or if you need to defend your results against a criticism by other researchers. If you leave some steps manual, then you or your colleagues are highly likely to make a mistake leading to a scientific error or to be unable to reproduce your results later.
One good way to automate these tasks is by writing a program or creating a script for a build system such as Make or Ant. Related work A related work section should not only explain what research others have done, but in each case should compare and contrast that to your work and also to other related work.
After reading your related work section, a reader should understand the key idea and contribution of each significant piece of related work, how they fit together what are the common themes or approaches in the research community? Don't write a related work section that is just a list of other papers, with a sentence about each one that was lifted from its abstract, and without any critical analysis nor deep comparison to other work.
Unless your approach is a small variation on another technique, it is usually best to defer the related work to the end of the paper. When it comes first, it gives readers the impression that your work is rather derivative. If this is true, it is your responsibility to convey that clearly; it it is not true, then it's misleading to intimate it. You need to ensure that readers understand your technique in its entirety, and also understand its relationship to other work; different orders can work in different circumstances.
Just as you should generally explain your technique first, and later show relationships with other work, it is also usually more effective to defer a detailed discussion of limitations to a later section rather than the main description of your technique. You should be straightforward and honest about the limitations, of course do mention them early on, even if you don't detail them then , but don't destroy the coherence of your narrative or sour the reader on your technique.
Feedback Get feedback! Finish your paper well in advance, so that you can improve the writing. Even re-reading your own text after being away from it can show you things that you didn't notice. An outside reader can tell you even more. When readers misunderstand the paper, that is always at least partly the author's fault! Even if you think the readers have missed the point, you will learn how your work can be misinterpreted, and eliminating those ambiguities will improve the paper.
Be considerate to your reviewers, who are spending their time to help you. Here are several ways to do that. As with submission to conferences, don't waste anyone's time if there are major flaws.
Only ask someone to read a part of your paper when you think you will learn something new, because you are not aware of serious problems. If only parts are ready, it is best to indicate this in the paper itself e. It is most effective to get feedback sequentially rather than in parallel. Rather than asking 3 people to read the same version of your paper, ask one person to read the paper, then make corrections before asking the next person to read it, and so on. This prevents you from getting the same comments repeatedly — subsequent readers can give you new feedback rather than repeating what you already knew, and you'll get feedback on something that is closer to the final version.
If you ask multiple reviewers at once, you are de-valuing their time — you are indicating that you don't mind if they waste their time saying something you already know. You might ask multiple reviewers if you are not confident of their judgment or if you are very confident the paper already is in good shape, in which case there are unlikely to be major issues that every reviewer stumbles over.
It usually best not to email the document, but to provide a location from which reviewers can obtain the latest version of the paper, such as a version control repository or a URL you will update. That way, you won't clutter inboxes with many revisions, and readers can always get the most recent copy. Be generous with your time when colleagues need comments on their papers: you will help them, you will learn what to emulate or avoid, and they will be more willing to review your writing.
Some of your best feedback will be from yourself, especially as you get more thoughtful and introspective about your writing. To take advantage of this, start writing early. One good way to do this is to write a periodic progress report that describes your successes and failures. The progress report will give you practice writing about your work, oftentimes trying out new explanations. Whereas you should start writing as early as possible, you don't need to put that writing in the form of a technical paper right away.
In fact, it's usually best to outline the technical paper, and get feedback on that, before you start to fill in the sections with text. You might think that you can copy existing text into the paper, but it usually works out better to write the information anew.
With your knowledge of the overall structure, goals, and audience, you will be able to do a much better job. When outlining, I like to start with one sentence about the paper; then write one sentence for each section of the paper; then write one sentence for each subsection; then write one sentence for each paragraph think of this as the topic sentence ; and at that point, it's remarkably easy just to flesh out the paragraphs.
Responding to conference reviews This section is most relevant to fields like computer science where conferences are the premier publication venue. Responding to journal reviews is different. Many conferences provide an author response period: the authors are shown the reviews and are given limited space say, words to respond to the reviews, such as by clarifying misunderstandings or answering questions. Your paper will only be accepted if there is a champion for the paper: someone who is excited about it and will try to convince the rest of the committee to accept the paper.
Your response needs to give ammunition to your champion to overcome objections. If there isn't a champion, then the main goal of your response is to create that champion. Read the reviews and decide what points you will respond to.
You need to focus on the most important and substantive ones. In your responses, admit your errors forthrightly. Don't ignore or avoid key issues, especially ones that multiple reviewers brought up. Your response to each point will be one paragraph in your response. Start the paragraph with a brief heading or title about the point. Do not assume that the reviewers remember everything that was written by every reviewer, nor that they will re-read their reviews before reading your response.
A little context will help them determine what you are talking about and will make the review stand on its own. This also lets you frame the issues in your own words, which may be clearer or address a more relevant point than the reviews did. Organize your responses thematically. If a given section has just one paragraph, then you can use the paragraph heading as the section heading. Order the sections from most to least important.
This is better than organizing your response by reviewer, first addressing the comments of reviewer 1, then reviewer 2, and so forth. Downsides of by-reviewer organization include: It can encourage you not to give sufficient context.
It does not encourage putting related information together nor important information first. You want to encourage all reviewers to read the entire response, rather than encouraging them to just look at one part. When multiple reviewers raised the same issue, then no matter where you address it, it's possible for a reviewer to overlook it and think you failed to address it.
You don't want to make glaringly obvious which issues in a review you had to ignore for reasons of space or other reasons. You don't want to make glaringly obvious that you spent much more time and space on one reviewer than another.
Make the response be about the science, not about the people. Finally, be civil and thankful the reviewers. They have spent considerable time and energy to give you feedback even if it doesn't seem to you that they have! Rejection If you submit technical papers, you will experience rejection. In some cases, rejection indicates that you should move on and begin a different line of research. In most cases, the reviews offer an opportunity to improve the work, and so you should be very grateful for a rejection!
It is much better for your career if a good paper appears at a later date, rather than than a poor paper earlier or a sequence of weak papers. Even small flaws or omissions in an otherwise good paper may lead to rejection. This is particularly at the elite venues with small acceptance rates, where you should aim your work. Referees are generally people of good will, but different referees at a conference may have different standards, so the luck of the draw in referees is a factor in acceptance.
The wrong lesson to learn from rejection is discouragement or a sense of personal failure. Many papers — even papers that later win awards — are rejected at least once. The feedback you receive, and the opportunity to return to your work, will invariably improve your results.
Don't be put off by a negative tone in the reviews. The referees are trying to help you, and the bast way to do that is to point out how your work can be improved. I often write a much longer review, with more suggestions for improvement, for papers that I like; if the paper is terrible, I may not be able to make as many concrete suggestions, or my high-level comments may make detailed comments moot. If a reviewer didn't understand something, then the main fault almost always lies with your writing.
If you blame a lazy or dumb reviewer, you are missing the opportunity to improve. Reviewers are not perfect, but they work hard to give you helpful suggestions, so you should give them the benefit of the doubt. Remember that just as it is hard to convey technical ideas in your paper and if you are getting a rejection, that is evidence that you did not succeed! You should closely attend to both the explicit comments, and to underlying issues that may have led to those comments — it isn't always easy to capture every possible comment in a coherent manner.
Think about how to improve your research and your writing, even beyond the explicit suggestions in the review — the prime responsibility for your research and writing belongs with you. Should you submit an imperfect paper? On the plus side, getting feedback on your paper will help you to improve it. On the other hand, you don't want to waste reviewers' time nor to get a reputation for submitting half-baked work. If you know the flaws that will make the referees reject your paper, or the valid criticisms that they will raise, then don't submit the paper.
Only submit if you aren't aware of show-stoppers and you are not embarrassed for the community to associate your name with the work, in its current form.
Norman Ramsey's advice Norman Ramsey's nice Teach Technical Writing in Two Hours per Week espouses a similar approach to mine: by focusing on clarity in your writing, you will inevitably gain clarity in your thinking.
However, NO space should be left in front of a punctuation mark; for example, the following would be incorrect: op. Use the width of your thumb as a rough guide.
Your instructor may give you a choice to indent or not to indent your paragraphs. No matter whichever one you choose to use, you must be consistent throughout your essay. If you are NOT indenting, you will start each paragraph flush to the left margin. It is essential that you double-space between lines and quadruple-space between paragraphs.
A reader will and should assume that whatever you write in a paper is something you believe or advocate, unless very clearly marked otherwise. It usually best not to email the document, but to provide a location from which reviewers can obtain the latest version of the paper, such as a version control repository or a URL you will update. It is essential that you double-space between lines and quadruple-space between paragraphs. Do not confuse relative and absolute measurements. Furthermore, they give the reader the impression that your technique is not applicable in practice — you couldn't find any real examples to illustrate it, so you had to make something up.
When describing the paper itself, use present tense. If any part of the paper does not do so, then delete or change that part. Do they have a background in the subject they wrote about? The figures become ineffective at drawing in a reader who is scanning the paper — an important constituency that you should cater to! Rather than asking 3 people to read the same version of your paper, ask one person to read the paper, then make corrections before asking the next person to read it, and so on.
This view is inaccurate.
Next, within each section, examine each paragraph. Once you have begun, you will find it relatively easier to revise your notes or first draft. If you don't, then it is an excellent use of your time to determine that information by writing the front matter.
Even if the paper is accepted, such a name won't tell you what the paper is about when when you look over your source files in later years. You should be straightforward and honest about the limitations, of course do mention them early on, even if you don't detail them then , but don't destroy the coherence of your narrative or sour the reader on your technique. YES, 3 weeks!! Be considerate to your reviewers, who are spending their time to help you. If only parts are ready, it is best to indicate this in the paper itself e.