Dr. Chris Staff University of Malta Department of Intelligent Computer Systems firstname.lastname@example.org Writing a Literature Review
Overview • Report Writing (for ICT) • The purpose of a report • Chapter/Section Overview • Writing a Literature Review • How to read efficiently:-) • How to use the literature to find literature • How to take notes and combine them into a review
Report Writing • The purpose of a report • To communicate your work to an audience • To demonstrate your understanding of a domain and how your work fits into/contributes to/extends (as appropriate) a domain • To back up your claims through appropriate evaluation • To discuss the significance of the results of your evaluation
Report Writing • Implications • Report should be free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors • Ideas should be communicated clearly (simple sentences, etc.) and in an appropriate style • There should be a logical structure to the way you present your argument • Each chapter/section should introduce what’s coming up and conclude with the significant points you want to make • There should be no secrets! Early disclosure is expected.
Report Writing • Implications • You are expected to read relevant work of others… • … and report on it (be critical!) • Clearly distinguish between your own work and the work of others • Reference properly and consistently
Report Writing • Implications • You must back up your claims (either by citing the work of others, or by referring to the results of your own evaluation) • Results should be presented in a manner appropriate for the domain (e.g., how is relevant work evaluated?)
Report Writing • Implications • You must demonstrate that you understand how your work fits into the domain • both in terms of how it fits into the literature and in terms of the results you obtain • Ideally, compare your results to results of other similar work • Easiest to do if you have access to shared test/evaluation data or can replicate experiments done by others and compare performance metrics (measurements)
Report Writing • Typical structure of a report • Abstract • Tables of contents (figures, tables, etc.) • Introduction • Background/Literature Review • Design/Implementation • Evaluation & Testing • Discussion of Results • Conclusions and Future Work • References Section!
Report Writing • Abstract • To describe concisely the problem you tackled, the method you employed, the results you obtained, and a critical statement about the outcome
Report Writing • Table of Contents (figures, tables, etc.) • …
Report Writing • Introduction • What is the problem you’re trying to solve? • What is your research question? • Why is it an important problem? • What’s your motivation for solving it? • What are your objectives? • What are your main/secondary contributions? • What were your main/overall results? • Chapter/Section overview
Report Writing • Background/Literature Review • Normally, assume that reader is someone with your experience/knowledge *before* you did the current work • However, if work incorporates more than one domain, you are likely to have to give a brief background to each domain • What prior work is relevant to yours? • And why?
Report Writing • Background/Literature Review • In your report you are trying to convince reader that your approach is sensible • You’re going to demonstrate that your approach builds on the work of others, though you shouldn’t refer to your current work here • You should be critical of the work of others • You’re also trying to show that you haven’t missed anything significant/important
Report Writing • Background/Literature Review • I like to structure my Lit Review on a ‘model’ (system) architecture to solve the problem I’m working on • What significant “processing steps” are needed to solve the problem? • What are the different approaches to each processing step, and which systems use each approach? With what costs? success?
Report Writing • Background/Literature Review • Lit Review should be a cross-section of the literature, rather than a sequential description of systems • Keep description of other systems high-level • Don’t underestimate the importance of the Lit Review • Shows that you’ve thought about the problem; been exposed to different approaches to embrace those that work, avoid those that don’t; acquired a certain depth of knowledge; are able to share that knowledge critically • Stick to peer-reviewed articles/books. Avoid wikipedia, magazines, newspapers!
Report Writing • Design/Implementation • Now you can talk about your approach, and reasons for it • It can follow the ideal ‘model’ you presented in the Lit. Review • You can, and indeed should, cross-reference to the Lit. Review • Systems on which you’ve based your approach can be described in more detail here
Report Writing • Design/Implementation • Remember to justify every decision that you make! • Remember to adequately reference technologies you use • Don’t go overboard with system schematics (most of these can go into an appendix), unless it is appropriate to do so • Write and describe, don’t just draw!
Report Writing • Design/Implementation • Especially in implementation chapter, talk about major data structures and operations on them, rather than organise it by function! How do major data structures interface? • What technologies did you use and why? • If you’ve used code developed by someone else, reference it! • Do give screen shots (remember to no. figures, tables, etc., and to refer to them in the text)
Report Writing • Evaluation • What claims are you making, and how are you going to ‘prove’ them? • How are these types of system normally evaluated? (Give a small lit review, if there are several acceptable approaches, and remember to provide references) • Are you able to follow normal evaluation, or do you have to do things differently (because of cost/time/etc)?
Report Writing • Evaluation • Describe your evaluation set-up or simulation environment • Equipment, participants (how many? What skills? How did you get them to participate? etc.), duration, location, etc. • Describe your experiments/simulation and or experimental details, and the results you obtained (be objective! Don’t discuss the implications yet) • Use tables, graphs, charts, etc. to describe results, but don’t present the same results in different ways
Report Writing • Evaluation • Describe the results, as well as presenting them • Draw attention to anomalous results • If required and/or appropriate, you should also have a section on testing – discuss with your supervisor • This should include a test plan and the test results
Report Writing • Discussion of Results • Objectively explain the significance of your results • Both independently and in comparison to similar systems • Explain why you obtained the results you obtained • Including any anomalous results • If you don’t get the results you expected/hoped for, don’t be afraid to explain why this may have happened • "Ideas do not have to be correct in order to be good; it's only necessary that, if they do fail, they do so in an interesting way" - Robert Rosen
Report Writing • Conclusion • More than just a summary! • Draw conclusions from your work (was it a worthwhile approach? What would you do differently? Etc.) • In Introduction, you asked your ‘research question’ and you stated your objectives. Answer the question and state whether you met your objectives • Future work…
Writing a Literature Review • How to read efficiently :-) • How to use the literature to find literature • How to take notes and combine them into a review
Writing a Literature Review • How to Read Efficiently • Read abstract • If paper is relevant, read introduction and conclusion • If still relevant, read literature review and approach/overview • If relevant, read evaluation and results • Only if absolutely necessary, read detailed design/implementation
Writing a Literature Review • How to Read Efficiently • Chicken and Egg • If you know the problem you’re trying to solve, your reading can be focussed • If you’re looking for a problem to solve, your reading strategy must change (initially)
Writing a Literature Review • How to use the literature to find literature • If a paper is relevant, it should have a relevant literature review • Read it, and track down and read the papers it refers to • Use system like CiteSeer to find other papers that refer to: • The paper you’re reading • Significant papers that the paper you’re reading refers to!
Writing a Literature Review • How to take notes • If the paper is relevant, write down its bibliographic reference (entry should be complete) and give it an id • Jot down notes of anything (statements/opinions) that is relevant/interesting (in the sections you’re reading) • Remember to put direct quotations (sentences/ phrases/unusual terminology) into quotes!
Writing a Literature Review • Based on your research, build a model of the (reasonably high-level) processing steps needed • Organise your notes around the model • You should end up with a series of statements related to each processing step about each paper you read • Remember to use the ref id with each statement! • You can now make statements about groups of papers
Writing a Literature Review • Example… Document Fusion Literature Review…
Writing a Literature Review • Write up your literature review! • Length will vary according to publication • Short for a (2-page) poster; longer for a (10-page) conference or journal paper; longer still for a research publication (e.g., report, dissertation, thesis), 10% of report length • So choose most important/significant claims for shorter pieces
Writing a Literature Review • Referencing your sources • Every time you make a claim, you need to provide a reference • At the point in your report at which you make the claim • And full referencing details of the source in the references list • For more information see: • ‘Plagiarism… and How to Avoid it’ • JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service, “A Quick Guide to Referencing”
Language Style Guide 1 • Consider writing in the first person singular (e.g., “I”) • You can use an active, rather than passive, voice • It shows you identify with what you have done, so it may be easier for the reader to engage with your writing • It is less “dry”
Language Style Guide 2 • Tense • Use the present tense throughout, except when referring to material in earlier chapters, when you can use the past tense.
Language Style Guide 3 • Figures, Diagrams, etc. • Use the past tense to describe what you did. However, you can use present and future tense when appropriate. Limit mixing tense in the same paragraph.
Language Style Guide 4 • Figures, Diagrams, Tables, etc. • Start numbering from e.g., Figure 1, Table 1, Diagram 1, etc., and increase number throughout report • Can also restart numbering in each chapter e.g., Figure 5.1 is the first figure in chapter 5. • Always give figure, diagram, etc., a caption • Always place the figure, etc., before the first reference to it in the text • Always refer to the figure, etc., in the text
Language Style Guide 5 • Always follow your supervisor’s advice!
Giving a Presentation 1 • The point of the presentation is to explain, in your allotted time: • what problem you were attempting to solve; • what other approaches have been taken to solve similar problems; • how you designed and implemented your solution; • your evaluation results (how good is your system at solving the problem); • and your conclusions.
Giving a Presentation 2 • Do not assume your examiners know anything about the problem domain, or if you are making assumptions then say so. • Include screen shots of your system working in the presentation, and use screen shots early in your talk so that your audience gets a feel for what you're talking about
Giving a Presentation 3 • Use a large font size - 30 points minimum is a good size. • You can refer to hand-held cards or notes to remind you what you want to cover, but please don't just read off the notes.
Giving a Presentation 4 • Don't dump large amounts of text onto slides. • Try to look at your audience when explaining the content of slides, and try to avoid giving your back to your audience.
Giving a Presentation 5 • If you feel nervous, don't worry about it - it's natural. Just take a deep breath. Once you get into your stride you'll be fine.
Giving a Presentation 6 • Use diagrams and screen shots, not just text. • BE ON TIME - if you're late, you will lose minutes from your presentation. If you miss your slot, you'll get a 0. • DO NOT OVERRUN YOUR TIME - when you are asked to stop, please stop, otherwise you will lose additional marks.
Giving a Presentation 7 • Also do not finish too early - try to pace your talk to fill up the time available. • Speak at a normal speed - it's not a race! • Start with an introduction to the problem domain, and then give a quick overview of the structure of your talk.
Giving a Presentation 8 • Practice, practice, practice, but please remember Einstein's Theory of Relativity - time works differently under pressure (even on the same planet) :-) • Have a working clock/stopwatch with you so that you can keep an eye on time - expand on points if you're going to fast, and skip things if you're going too slowly.
Giving a Presentation 9 • When you are asked questions, take time to • let the examiner finish the question, and • listen to the question.
Giving a Presentation 11 • If you are not sure that you understand what you've been asked, then say so (politely). It's also ok to begin to answer a question by saying "I think I've been asked xyz…" and give the examiner a chance to address any misunderstandings.
Giving a Presentation 12 • If you don't know the answer to a question, don't try to bluff… examiners are pretty good at spotting stuff like that :-) • It is ok to take a while to think about the answer to a question or to seek clarification. Examiners are there to try to get you to expose what you know about your topic.
More Links • Comrie, A. C., Scientific Report Writing. • UW-Madison Writing Center, 2006, Scientific Reports • Report Tips • Dolphin, W. D., Writing Lab Reports and Scientific Papers • JISC, A Quick Guide to Referencing