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Winter Semester 2009/2010. How to write a research paper. Research article.

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research article
26 November 2009Research 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  • reports on research findings that are not only sound (valid) and previously unpublished (original), but also add some new understanding, observation, proofs, i.e. potentially important information (Gordon, 1983).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
tell a story
26 November 2009Tell 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
plagiarism
26 November 2009Plagiarism
  • 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
characteristics
26 November 2009Characteristics
  • Original ideas
  • Address reality
  • Provides lessons to be learned
  • Describes the context
  • Self contained
  • Focused
paper structure
26 November 2009Paper structure
  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Related work
  • Main part
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
title
26 November 2009Title
  • 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
abstract
26 November 2009Abstract
  • 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
introduction
26 November 2009Introduction
  • 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
related work
26 November 2009Related 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
main part
26 November 2009Main 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
conclusions
26 November 2009Conclusions
  • 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…”)
acknowledgements
26 November 2009Acknowledgements
  • 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
reference list
26 November 2009Reference 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
rules
26 November 2009Rules
  • 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
paper writing
26 November 2009Paper Writing
  • The working desk
  • Footnotes
  • Tables
  • Figures
  • English as a second language
    • Grammar
    • Text spelling
  • Writing tips
the working desk
26 November 2009The 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
springer verlag s lncs template
26 November 2009Springer-Verlag's LNCS Template
  • http://www.springer.com/computer/lncs?SGWID=0-164-7-72376-0
organizing references
26 November 2009Organizing 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
footnotes
26 November 2009Footnotes
  • 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
tables
26 November 2009Tables
  • 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
figures
26 November 2009Figures
  • 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
english as a second language
26 November 2009English 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
grammar
26 November 2009Grammar
  • 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 …
text spelling
26 November 2009Text 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 @
writing tips
26 November 2009Writing 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
before submitting
26 November 2009Before 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
additional reading
26 November 2009Additional 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)