CS 519-001, Scientific Writing and Presentation

Coordinates T/Th 4-5:20pm, WNGR 275. [Registrar Link]
Instructor Liang Huang (liang dot huang dot sh at gmail)
Prerequisites Students should have written (or have been writing) at least one paper (conference, journal, or qualify papers, but not course project reports) before taking this class.
Students need to bring a 2-page writing sample to the first class.
  • SCI: G. Gopen and J. Swan (1990). The Science of Scientific Writing. American Scientist 78:550-558.
  • HOW: Simon Peyton Jones (1993--2006). The "How-to" series: How to write a research paper, How to give a research talk, and How to write a research proposal.
  • STY: J. Williams and G. Colomb (2010, 10th edi.). Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. University of Chicago Press.
  • ELE: W. Strunk and E. White (1999, 4th edi). The Elements of Style. Longman.
Grading Regular attendance is mandatory. Classes start with a discussion on some aspect of writing or presentation style. They end with students receiving detailed feedback on their rough drafts or slides. Part of the final grade depends on the student's relative improvement in writing and presentation over the course of the semester.

Believe it or not, scientific communication is the single most important part of the PhD training. Think about the following:

Have reviewers of your papers ever misunderstood your main arguments or contributions (which possibly resulted in rejections)? Do you sometimes struggle to put your ideas into writing? On the other hand, when reading a paper, do you ever wish it were written (a lot) more clearly? In a conference or seminar talk, do you ever get lost due to the bad quality of presentation and/or slides?

The fact is, scientific communication is hard (almost equally hard for native and non-native speakers), and the standards are generally very low. However, with proper training, everybody is expected to improve significantly in both writing and presentation skills.

This course develops writing and presentation skills for students in all areas of computer science and closely related fields ([E]CE, Math, Stats, Compbio, Robotics, Linguistics, etc.). The course is aimed specifically at Ph.D. (and research-active M.S.) students who are writing up projects for publication, preparing their conference talks, or preparing their research exam. This course will be

Why I am teaching this course?

Tentative Schedule

0students complete canvas survey about research background.
1* students submit 2-page writing samples
* student intros, round 1: writing and presentation background.
* four-sentence template of abstract/intro: what-why-how-wow.
* no "rest of the paper" paragraph; instead, use a list of contributions with forward refs
* no "Sec2 Related Work"; instead, "Sec2 Preliminaries" and "Sec6 Related Work".
* discussions of student samples: abstract/intro
my annotated version of Simon Peyton Jones's "how-to" slides
2* visual structure
* language style
* discussions of student samples: global structure
* overview of presentations
SPJ's HOW (writing part)
paper gestalt
SPJ's HOW (talk part)
3 SCI (a summary by a former OSU CS Prof.)

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Liang Huang
Last modified: Wed May 22 01:17:59 EDT 2013