dr chris staff university of malta department of intelligent computer systems chris staff@um edu mt l.
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Dr. Chris Staff University of Malta Department of Intelligent Computer Systems chris.staff@um.edu.mt. 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:-)

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Writing a Literature Review

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dr chris staff university of malta department of intelligent computer systems chris staff@um edu mt
Dr. Chris Staff

University of Malta

Department of Intelligent Computer Systems


Writing a Literature Review
  • 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
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 writing4
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 writing5
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 writing6
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 writing7
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 writing8
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 writing9
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 writing10
Report Writing
  • Table of Contents (figures, tables, etc.)
report writing11
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 writing12
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 writing13
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 writing14
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 writing15
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 writing16
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 writing17
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 writing18
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 writing19
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 writing20
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 writing21
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 writing22
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 writing23
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
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 review25
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 review26
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 review27
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 review28
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 review29
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 review30
Writing a Literature Review
  • Example… Document Fusion Literature Review…
writing a literature review31
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 review32
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
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
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
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
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
Language Style Guide 5
  • Always follow your supervisor’s advice!
giving a presentation 1
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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