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Tutorial to all Students of my Courses: Writing IT Papers. Dickson K.W. Chiu PhD, SMIEEE. Writing a Paper – Process Overview. Step 1 - Getting Started Step 2 - Discovering and Choosing a Topic Step 3 - Looking for and Forming a Focus Step 4 - Gathering Information

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Dickson K.W. Chiu PhD, SMIEEE

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writing a paper process overview
Writing a Paper – Process Overview

Step 1 - Getting Started

Step 2 - Discovering and Choosing a Topic

Step 3 - Looking for and Forming a Focus

Step 4 - Gathering Information

Step 5 - Preparing to Write 

Step 6 - Writing the Paper

Reference: A Plus Research and Writing

Dickson Chiu 2005

1 getting started
1. Getting Started

1.1 Understand the task and requirements (also the audience)

1.2 Consider the process (e.g., the steps outline in this set of slides) you'll use

1.3 Set deadlines and roadmaps for each step of the process

1.4 Think about possible topics within the constraints of 1.1

1.5 Info Search - browse, read, relax

1.6 Relate your prior experience and learning

1.7 Jot down your questions and ideas about possible topics

1.8 Brainstorm, alone and with others

Dickson Chiu 2005

2 discovering and choosing a topic
2. Discovering and choosing a topic

2.1 Info Search - read for overview of various topics

2.2 Continue thinking and jotting down questions and ideas in your notebook

2.3 Info Survey - what print and electronic resources are available

2.4 Try and think “what-if” on different topics preliminarily

Dickson Chiu 2005

3 looking for and forming a focus
3. Looking for and Forming a Focus

Goal: Exploring your topic, finding and forming a focus

3.1 Info Search - exploring your topic

3.2 Info Search - preliminary note taking

  • Record the info source for citation

3.3 Purposeful thinking about possible focuses

  • Try to focus on something new, useful, and interesting
  • Think about justifications for your focus
  • Other directions / alternatives not used - comparison, future work

3.4 Choosing a focus or combining themes to form a focus

  • Considering your output size and time

Dickson Chiu 2005

4 gathering information
4. Gathering Information

4.1 Info Search - finding, collecting, and recording

  • record your sources in the bibliographic format required for citation

4.2 Think about clarifying or refining your focus

4.3 Start organizing your notes into logical groups

4.4 Think about your thesis statement - the main point of your finding or the main contribution of your paper

Dickson Chiu 2005

5 preparing to write
5. Preparing to Write

5.1 Analyze and organize your information

5.2 Construct a thesis statement

  • Boil down the main point of your paper to a single statement
  • declaresthe position you are taking in your paper
  • sets up the way you will organize your discussion
  • points to the conclusion you will draw

5.3 Weed out irrelevant information

5.4 Info Search - fill in the gaps

Dickson Chiu 2005

6 writing the paper
6. Writing the Paper

6.1 Think about the assignment, the audience and the purpose

6.2 Prepare an outline

6.3 Make your designs and diagrams

6.4 Write the rough draft

6.5 Know how to use your source materials and cite them

6.6 Have others read and critique the paper

6.7 Revise and proofread

Consider using Powerpoint slides

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper structure
Paper Structure
  • Title, Abstract, Keyword
  • Introduction
  • Background of the problem
  • Related work (other papers or systems)
  • Elaborate your problem statement
  • Detail your solution of the problem
  • Formal evaluation of your solution (if any)
  • Discussions (qualitative evaluation)
  • Conclusion and Future Work
  • References
  • Appendices

Ref: J. W. Chinneck, “How to organize your thesis”

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper title abstract keyword
Paper - Title, Abstract, Keyword
  • Title
    • reflect problem statement and thesis sentence
  • Author
    • in the order of contribution to the work
  • Abstract
    • communicate the important ideas of the paper
    • write the abstract before the paper and even the outline
    • focuses your attention on the main ideas you wants to convey
  • Keyword / Index terms
    • on your topic
    • used for indexing in digital libraries
    • include especially those not in the title or abstract

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper introduction
Paper - Introduction
  • Problem Statement
  • Thesis sentence
  • Motivate your paper
    • Briefly, why existing systems / approach are inadequate
    • There are needs for your work
    • Why / when / how your work is useful
  • Introduce the contribution of your paper
    • Main advantage of your approach
    • Point out any novelty
  • Introduce the paper structure very briefly
  • Refrain from detail background information to the next section

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper background
Paper - Background
  • Depends on your audience
  • Especially necessary
    • if your work spans two or more traditional fields
    • About a certain specific industry or application domain (e.g., SME brokerage in HK)
  • Introduce definitions, jargons, etc.
  • Case study or motivating example
  • Requirements – highlight new ones
  • Stakeholders (cf. use case analysis)
  • Inadequacy of existing approach
  • Justify a new approach
    • Introduce (briefly) the new approach / technologies that you propose to use
    • their general advantages with reference to the above
  • Consider a more specific section title

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper related work
Paper – Related Work
  • Review of the State of the Art
  • Organize this section by idea
  • Cite other related works / systems / websites
  • Compare your approach with others
  • Organize in subsections if necessary
    • too long
    • better / highlight classification
  • Demonstrate the novelty or merit of your work by comparison

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper elaborate your problem statement
Paper – Elaborate your problem statement
  • Detail what your problems are, referring to background and related work
  • Model your problem
  • Use diagrams to conceptualized your problem
    • UML Class diagrams
    • UML activity diagrams to show business process
  • Formal / mathematical models (!)

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper detail your solution
Paper – Detail your solution
  • Solution overview
    • May be in the form of a methodology (stepwise recipe)
  • System architecture
  • Algorithms and other detailed design
    • UML activity diagram – flowchart
    • UML sequence diagrams – protocol
    • Summarized code / XML listing (only very necessary)
  • Detailed data structures (only very necessary)
  • From formal / mathematical models, derive useful properties (!)
  • Justify them as your present them
    • Compare alternative design choices

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper formal evaluation of your solution if any
Paper - Formal evaluation of your solution (if any)
  • Experiment
    • quantitative measurement of prototype (e.g., performance)
    • Gathering users’ experience
  • Simulation
  • Survey
  • Mathematical proofs (!)
  • Less formal and practical: proof-of-concept prototype

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper discussions qualitative evaluation
Paper - Discussions (qualitative evaluation)
  • Convince the readers that you answered the question or solved the problem
  • Based of quantitative results or qualitative discussions or both
  • What you did is relevant and effective
    • Systems meet the requirement of stakeholders
    • Studies meet the objectives
    • Technical, economical, managerial merits of your approach
  • Experience you gained from your work (e.g., system implementation)
  • Applicability of your results and whether your result can be generalized, scale-up, etc.
  • State any limitations of your current work and suggest improvements for future work

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper conclusions
Paper - Conclusions
  • Conclusions
    • short, concise statements relate to your research question and discussion
  • Summary of Contributions, e.g.,
    • Novel system, architecture, methodology
    • New business models and functions
    • Practical and more effective solutions with new technologies
  • Future work

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper references
Paper - References
  • Closely tied to the review of the state of the art
  • Cite other work to justify major assumptions and claims (e.g., which issue / aspect / strategy is the most important for a certain industry / system / problem domain)
  • Source for technical references (e.g., BPEL)
  • All references given must be referred to in the main body (different from bibliography)
  • Different publisher has different reference (and paper) formatting styles
  • American Psychological Association (APA) style
    • Not only the format but also how to refer
    • See: Nuts and bots of college writing

Dickson Chiu 2005

paper appendices
Paper – Appendices
  • Any material which impedes the smooth development of your presentation, but
    • important to justify the results
    • gives the impression that you have done solid work
  • Code listing, database schema, diagrams
  • Immense tables of data
  • Lengthy mathematical proofs or derivations

Dickson Chiu 2005

  • Workshop proceedings
    • Usually preliminary new ideas
    • Very focused topic
  • Conference proceedings
    • Varies in content and quality
    • On a certain area
    • Usually quick new results or ideas
  • Journals and Transactions
    • Polished research results
    • Some have surveys (e.g., ACM Computing Surveys)
    • Usually a longer turn-around time and a few review cycles
    • Many have (occasional) special issues of new topics
    • Cite a journal instead of a conference / workshop proceeding for the same work
  • Magazines (e.g., Communications of the ACM)
    • quick new ideas, results, review on hot topics
    • interested to a large community of readers
  • Book Chapters – collection of papers on a specific (usually new) topic

Dickson Chiu 2005

read and evaluate a paper
Read and evaluate a paper
  • Original Ideas
  • Reality
  • Lessons
  • Choices
  • Context
  • Focus
  • Presentation
  • Writing Style
    • The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
  • Reference:
    • How (and How Not) to Write a Good Systems Paper by Roy Levin and David D. Redell
    • Writing Good Software Engineering Research Papers, by Mary Shaw

Dickson Chiu 2005