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A Perspective on doing Effective Research*. Sing Bing Kang MSR Redmond. * Caveat: My (rather biased) perspective!. Why do research?. Passion for discovering new things Making the world a better place (and for company). Yeah, right: Opportunity to “show off” Prestige Other perks:

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a perspective on doing effective research

A Perspective on doing Effective Research*

Sing Bing Kang

MSR Redmond

*Caveat: My (rather biased) perspective!

why do research
Why do research?
  • Passion for discovering new things
  • Making the world a better place (and for company)
  • Yeah, right:
  • Opportunity to “show off”
  • Prestige
  • Other perks:
    • Visiting exotic places (conferences)
    • Flexible working hours
starting a project
Starting a project
  • So you have a great idea
  • You go through the usual phases:
    • Literature search (anybody else done this?)
    • Idea refinement
    • Implementation
    • Write up
  • An important component: Documenting
  • Do this often (as written notes or in LaTex)
  • When:
    • Literature search
    • Defining new ideas/concepts, motivation
    • Explaining experiments and results
  • Keeps project in perspective
  • Useful for patent filing
observed progression
Observed progression

Amount of documentation



more desirable progression
More desirable progression

Amount of documentation

Distribute load!


Literature search


Defining new ideas/concepts

Refining, experimenting

documenting approaches
Documenting: Approaches
  • Top-down (skeleton, then fill)
  • Bottom-up (write details, then reorg)
  • Linear (progressing from begin to end)
  • Any combination of the above
documenting in the beginning
Documenting in the beginning
  • Goals of project
  • Motivation
  • Prior relevant work
    • Critical review
    • Point out similarities and differences
    • Why your proposal is new and better
  • More critical for collaboration
literature search
Literature search
  • An absolute must in the beginning
  • Useful resources:
    • USC’s Annotated Computer Vision Bibliography
    • CMU’s Computer Vision Homepage
    • Univ. of Edinburgh’s CVonline
    • NEC’s CiteSeer (the ultimate in egosurfing!)
  • Links in www.research.microsoft.com/~sbkang
documenting throughout
Documenting throughout
  • The document should be evolving
  • Ideas and concepts (with figures)
  • Results
  • Forces you to review project constantly
typical contents of final paper
Typical contents of final paper
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Experimental results and interpretation
  • Conclusions/summary, future work
paper abstract
Paper: Abstract
  • Purpose: Give overall picture, entice reader
  • Do:
    • Be brief
    • Give relevant high-level descriptions
    • Indicate why your work is new, better
  • Don’t:
    • Cut and paste from introduction or conclusions
    • Give details
paper introduction
Paper: Introduction
  • Motivate your work
  • Show you are well-read (prior work)
  • Indicate why your work is new and better (not just different)
  • Provide a roadmap to your paper (depends)
paper body
Paper: Body
  • If concept/system is complex, provide a block diagram, e.g.:

Substep 1


Step 3…

Substep 2


paper results
Paper: Results
  • Present results clearly
    • Graphs properly labeled, check font size
    • Be careful with color figures (contrast)
    • Always define abbreviations
    • Check for conflicting symbols
  • Don’t just describe, interpret!
paper discussion
Paper: Discussion
  • Describe alternative techniques
  • Elaborate effects of assumptions
  • Reveal problems (breaking points), explain
  • Suggest applications
paper conclusions
Paper: Conclusions
  • Repeat what is great about work
  • Mention how general the work is
  • Hint on future work
general tips on writing or how to not annoy reviewers
General tips on writing(or How to not annoy reviewers)
  • Always check spelling
  • One paragraph, one main point
  • Avoid long, convoluted sentences
  • Have connecting statements between sections
  • Tables, figures must be described in text
  • Check diction (get someone to proofread)
collaborative effort
Collaborative effort
  • Research projects often involve >= 2 people
  • Requires regular meetings
  • Documentation very important!
  • Be inventive:
    • If data not forthcoming, generate plausible ones for your own progress
    • Show results effectively (e.g., intermediate 3D data -> VRML)
giving presentations
Giving presentations
  • Content is as important as delivery
  • Plan content well:
    • What is your primary message?
    • Who is your audience?
    • How long is your talk?
level of detail
Level of detail

Level of detail


Enough high-level stuff to enable most to understand

Some details to satisfy those familiar with area, and to show you really know your work

(Adapted from Takeo Kanade’s advice)

giving presentations slides
Giving presentations: Slides
  • Slides should typical not exceed 6-8 lines
  • Very bad:
    • Photocopied directly from paper
    • Unintelligible scribbles
    • Distracting animations, “cute” irrelevant graphics
  • Readability test: Measure width of screen W, step back 8W.
giving presentations delivery
Giving presentations: Delivery
  • If unfamiliar, write notes and memorize
  • Provide linking statements for next slide
  • Using a laser pointer? To reduce shaking:
    • Keep upper arm close to body
    • Move only lower arm and hand
interaction with audience
Interaction with audience
  • Keep eye contact with audience
  • Don’t mumble; speak loudly and clearly
  • Don’t block audience’s view
  • If question is complex, defer to after talk
  • Relax: People want you to succeed
presentations observe and practice
Presentations: Observe and practice!
  • When attending others’ presentations, observe.
  • Note what you like.
  • Note what you don’t like.
  • Analyze!
  • Most important: Practice, practice, practice!
attending conferences
Attending conferences
  • Make full use of it
  • Talk to other people
  • Attend talks/posters, ask questions
  • Notice how others deliver talks/posters, how they handle questions
finally seriously
Finally (seriously)…
  • A bad attitude can hinder your career
  • Consider these:
    • Word gets around quickly
    • People won’t lie to preserve your reputation
  • Own up to what you don’t know
  • Use the “reasonable person” principle!
sample resources
Sample resources
  • Guides to Research (http://www.useekufind.com/uiresear.htm, http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Troy/8866/)
  • Guide for Writing Research Papers (http://webster.commnet.edu/mla.htm)
  • Giving Presentations (http://bmrc.berkeley.edu/courseware/cs160/spring99/Lectures/14-Presentations/sld001.htm)
  • “The science of scientific writing”
  • “A letter to research students”
  • “How to give a good research talk”
  • “How to be a good graduate student/advisor”
  • “The general pattern of the scientific method”
  • “Computer vision methodologies”