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winter semester 2009 2010 n.
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How to write a research paper

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  1. Winter Semester 2009/2010 How to write a research paper 26 November 2009

  2. 26 November 2009 Research article • A scientific or research article or paper is a technical (or essayistic?) document that describes a significant experimental, theoretical or observational extension of current knowledge, or advances in the practical application of known principles (O'Conner and Woodford, 1976). • reports on research findings that are not only sound (valid) and previously unpublished (original), but also add some new understanding, observation, proofs, i.e. potentially important information (Gordon, 1983). • Tomislav Hengl and Michael Gould, 2002. Rules of thumb for writing research articles. • http://www.itc.nl/library/Papers/hengl_rules.pdf

  3. 26 November 2009 Tell a story • Every paper tells a story. • What: what you want to find. The problem being solved • Why: purpose and justification • How: your approach • Write for reader, not for yourself • The ideas in the paper should be new, original • The ideas should be significant enough to justify a paper

  4. 26 November 2009 Plagiarism • Plagiarism is the “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work. Within academia, plagiarism by students, professors, or researchers is considered academic dishonesty or academic fraud and offenders are subject to academic censure [...]“ • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism

  5. 26 November 2009 Characteristics • Original ideas • Address reality • Provides lessons to be learned • Describes the context • Self contained • Focused

  6. 26 November 2009 Paper structure • Title • Abstract • Introduction • Related work • Main part • Conclusions • Acknowledgements • References

  7. 26 November 2009 Title • Indicates content and main discoveries • Attracts the reader’s attention • Should be simple (7-10 words) • Aims at specific audience • Should avoid complex grammar • Should be catchy

  8. 26 November 2009 Abstract • Reflects the main story of the research paper • Calls attention but without extra explanations • Short and concise sentences • No citations, tables, graphs, equations etc. • Explain what was done, what was found and what are the main conclusions

  9. 26 November 2009 Introduction • Introduces the topic and defines the terminology • Indicates the focus of the paper and research objectives • Do not present your results in the introduction • The first paragraph of the introduction is very important. To great extent determines whether a potential reader will stay away from the rest of the paper • Comprises justification and purpose • Motivation broadly, what is the problem area, why important • What is the problem you specifically consider

  10. 26 November 2009 Related Work • To help in understanding the field and the problem • Should be a separate section • Should be generous in citations • Your approach is not more interesting if you state that others have done it all wrong • Not necessary to cite every single paper • Compare your work with the state of the art

  11. 26 November 2009 Main part • The body of the text. Sections (chapters) • Describe in detail the findings and your contribution • Provide all explanations required by the reader to understand your work • Use tables, graphs and other types of illustrations • Use simple(st) examples to explain the methodology • Explains discrepancies and unexpected findings

  12. 26 November 2009 Conclusions • Answers research questions/objectives • States the importance of discovery and future implications • Results should not be recapitulated (no summary here), but sum up your findings • Strong statements should be made (avoid “it may be concluded…”)

  13. 26 November 2009 Acknowledgements • People, agencies and so forth that have provided some sort of help should be acknowledged • Forget nobody • Host institution doesn’t have to be mentioned, because it is already mentioned in the title section. No extra acknowledgement is required

  14. 26 November 2009 Reference list • list of related literature and information sources • Should be up to date • Cite the most accessible references • Cite primary sources rather than review papers • Self citation should not exceed 15% percent and should be done in a modest way • Avoid citing unpublished material • Not all references are equally good

  15. 26 November 2009 Rules • TAKE A READER'S VIEW: Write for your audience not for yourself. • TELL A STORY: Direct your research article but keep a clear focus in the paper and present only results that relate to it. • BE YOURSELF: Write like you speak and then revise and polish. • MAKE IT SIMPLE: Use simple(st) examples to explain complex methodology. • MAKE IT CONCRETE: Use concrete words and strong verbs, avoid noun clusters (more than three words), abstract and ambiguous words. • MAKE IT SHORT: Avoid redundancy, repetition and over-explanation of familiar techniques and terminology. • TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: Make a clear distinction between your work and that of others. • MAKE STRONG STATEMENTS: “We concluded...” instead of “It may be concluded...” • BE SELF-CRITICAL: Consider uncertainty of conclusions and their implications and acknowledge the work of others. • Tomislav Hengl and Michael Gould, 2002. Rules of thumb for writing research articles. • http://www.itc.nl/library/Papers/hengl_rules.pdf

  16. 26 November 2009 Paper Writing • The working desk • Footnotes • Tables • Figures • English as a second language • Grammar • Text spelling • Writing tips

  17. 26 November 2009 The working desk • Miktex distribution of Latex:http://miktex.org/ • Latex editor WinEdt:http://www.winedt.com/ • The Not So Short Introduction to LATEX2: • http://tobi.oetiker.ch/lshort/lshort.pdf

  18. 26 November 2009 Springer-Verlag's LNCS Template • http://www.springer.com/computer/lncs?SGWID=0-164-7-72376-0

  19. 26 November 2009 Organizing References • Some simple rules • Every figure, table, and reference gets a unique id number • Every citation in the text is included in the reference list and vice versa • Every figure and table needs to be referenced and described in the text • Latex generates lists and references automatically

  20. 26 November 2009 Footnotes • don’t use for parenthetical comments. Important things must be put in the text • Footnotes stop readers • Footnotes should be used for things that the typical reader genuinely can skip • Long lists of references, simple bits of algebra, or other type of documentation are a candidate for footnotes

  21. 26 November 2009 Tables • Tables should have a self-contained caption so that a skimming reader can understand the fact presented • Captions should not be too long • The content should be explained in the text • If some content is not worth explaining then don’t put in the table

  22. 26 November 2009 Figures • Good figures can make a paper come alive • Good figures communicate ideas, patterns in the data better than big tables of numbers • Bad chosen figures waste a lot of space • Captions are very important • Be aware of printing resolutions • Papers are usually printed in black and white

  23. 26 November 2009 English as a second language • Always strive to improve your English • Listen to English radio programs (i.e. BBC World Service) • Read high-quality intellectual magazines (i.e. New York Review of Books) or high quality literature • Watch English-spoken TV programs with subtitles • Practice English by speaking it • Finding help: • The Purdue Online Writing Lab - http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ • Paul Brians’ complete website on Common Errors in English Usage

  24. 26 November 2009 Grammar • Implications:Do not use “this means”, rather “this observation implies” • That and which:If you can put a comma before that, it must be which • Absolute statements:Always relate to units • Highlighting:no exclamation mark, use italic, bold …

  25. 26 November 2009 Text spelling • Consistency: consistent spelling through out the text. English spelling is different from American i.e. defense versus defence • Hyphens: the use of hyphens should be consistent • Quotation marks: use only one sort all over the text • Full capital abbreviations: such as SOA = Software Oriented Architecture must be explained. Their meaning should be repeated in long texts • Conventional abbreviations: (i.e. Figure -> Fig.) check these with the journal style • Non-alphabetic characters: use and instead of &; at instead of @

  26. 26 November 2009 Writing tips • Use active tense • Avoid the usage of “we” in sole-authored paper • Take responsibility for what you write • Avoid technical jargon whenever possible • Writing should be concrete, not abstract • Don’t repeat things • Don’t use adjectives to describe your work: striking results • Clothe the naked “this”. “This shows that markets really are irrational…” / “This regression shows that …” • John H. Cochrane. Writing Tips for Ph. D. Students. • http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/john.cochrane/research/papers/phd_paper_writing.pdf

  27. 26 November 2009 Before submitting • Are proper tenses and voices used (active and passive)? • Are all equations mathematically correct and explained in the text? • Are all abbreviations explained? • Reconsider (avoid) using of words "very", "better", "may", "appears", "more", "convinced", "impression" in the text. • Are all abbreviations, measurement units, variables and techniques internationally recognized? • Are all figures/tables relevant and of good quality? • Are all figures, tables and equations listed and mentioned in the text? • Are all references relevant, up to date and accessible? • Tomislav Hengl and Michael Gould, 2002. Rules of thumb for writing research articles. • http://www.itc.nl/library/Papers/hengl_rules.pdf

  28. 26 November 2009 Additional reading • Ad Lagendijk, 2008. Survival Guide for Scientists: Writing - Presentation – Email. Amsterdam University Press. • ftp://fast.cs.utah.edu/pub/writing-papers.ps (20.11.2009) • http://www.itc.nl/library/Papers/hengl_rules.pdf (20.11.2009) • http://www-net.cs.umass.edu/kurose/talks/top_10_tips_for_writing_a_paper.ppt (20.11.2009) • http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~hgs/etc/writing-style.html (20.11.2009)