If you are interested in doing a
seminar, BTP, MTP etc. with me, here are some baseline expectations I
have of research students:
I typically translate every credit to about 1.5 hours of effort a week.
So, a 4 credit seminar means you should put in about 2/3rd of effor you
put in for a 6 credit course which translates to about 6 hours a week
for a semester.
It is YOUR project, not mine and I expect YOU to take ownership
of it. Dont expect me to police you, be independent but
responsible to know and meet all expectations.
- Logistics: I
dont usually bother with logistics such as paperwork needed to be
filed, deadlines to be met etc. That is solely your responsibility - be
aware of institute and departmental rules.
- Critical Thinking: You
should constantly question everything you read and be on the lookout
for research "problems" and opportunities. With permission from the author, I have reproduced the gist of a paper on this topic. Here's a useful link on how to read a research paper.
- Communication: Communicate
more rather than less. If you are stuck, come to see me rather than try
to impress me by going off for weeks together and trying to solve
something you dont really understand. If you are going to slack off
for any reason, talk to me about it PRIOR to letting go of your
How to read a research paper
It is important that you learn to read research papers critically, so here are some questions to ask yourself as you read and some tips on reading.
- What problems are they solving? Why are these problems important?
- What did they really do? (as opposed to what the authors say or imply they did)
- What is the contribution of the work? (i.e. what is interesting or new?)
- What methods are they using?
- Would you have solved the problem differently?
- Do all the pieces of their work fit together logically?
- What were the results? Did they do what they set out to do?
Tips on reading research papers
You need not read a research paper sequentially from beginning to end. Here’s one
– Read the title. (What is the paper about?)
– Read the abstract. (Should give you a concise overview of the paper.)
– Read the introduction. (Look for motivations, relation to other work, and a more detailed overview.)
– Look at the structure of the paper. (What do the remaining sections address. How do they fit together?)
– (Read the previous/related work section. (How does this work relate? What is new or different about this work?))
– Read the conclusions. (What were their results?)
– Read the body of the paper. You may want to skip over all the equations the first time through.
The references won’t mean much to you if you’re not
familiar with the area. Sometimes important parts of the work may be
contained in the references, particularly in
conference papers since space is limited. The references are very
important when you are researching a topic—they point you to
related research as well as the research upon which the current paper
builds upon. Sooner or later, you will come across something that you
don’t understand. What can you do? You should try to figure out
what it is and how it is being used (even though you still don’t
understand it). For further reading, see the references!
How to write a reading report
Your reading report should be at most one page, and I’d prefer they be single spaced. It should have two main components:
These two components can (and sometimes should) be intertwined. Here are some guidelines for writing reading reports:
- A concise summary of the paper, providing an overview of what
they actually did (and why), what methods they used, and what their
- A brief critique of the paper, giving a technical evaluation of
the work, what things were unclear or not addressed, and the merits of
the work. This should be a technical critique, not an emotional
- In order to write a good reading
report, you must have read the paper critically. (Think about the
questions in the previous section.)
- Use your understanding of the paper to write a cohesive
summary rather than a “play by play” account of the paper.
- Be concise, but include some technical detail. The
phrases “I would have liked to see. . . ” and “I
thought. . . ” are not really relevant here. In the case of the
former, say what you mean, e.g. “The results would be more
convincing if. . . ” As for the latter, I already know that the
report contains your thoughts and opinions.
- When I read a reading report, I am looking to see whether you
have understood the key points of the paper. Do not simply copy choice
phrases from the paper; this does not
demonstrate that you have understood the paper, and it is not good
Here is a list of points you should bring out in a reading report:
- State the main contribution of the paper.
- Critique the main contribution.
- Rate the significance of the paper on a scale of 5 (breakthrough), 4
(significant contribution), 3 (modest contribution), 2 (incremental
contribution), 1 (no contribution or negative contribution). Explain your rating
in a sentence or two.
- Rate how convincing the methodology is. You may consider some of the
following questions (use what is relevant): do the claims and conclusions follow
from the experiments? Are the assumptions realistic? Are the experiments well
designed? Are there different experiments that would be more convincing? Are
there other alternatives the authors should have considered? (And, of course, is
the paper free of methodological errors?)
- What is the most important limitation of the approach?
- What are the three strongest and/or most interesting ideas in the paper?
- What are the three most striking weaknesses in the paper?
- Name three questions that you would like to ask the authors?
- Detail an interesting extension to the work not mentioned in the future work