Saturday, December 27, 2008

More on formal writing before one-on-one meetings

Posted on Wednesday Oct 24, 2007

Here is the definition on formal writing:

(1). The formal writing includes the text that you can turn into a part of your future paper submission directly or with minor polishing. If you just write in some high-level bulleted points like those in slides, this type of writing is not formal and not acceptable in terms of formal writing.

(2). Because our group uses LaTeX as the format of writing papers, your formal writing needs to be in the LaTeX format. If you don?t know how to use LaTeX in writing papers, take a look at

Especially on which software packages to use for editing and compiling LaTeX source files.

(3). Because our group uses CVS to keep track of revisions and allow collaborative writing, your formal writing needs to be put in our research server?s CVS repository. Basically after you set up CVS, you can create a subdirectory under /cvs/root/papers/ with the naming convention of ?lastname-conferenceorworkshopname? (e.g., acharya-FSE07). If there is no specific conference or workshop to aim at currently, you can put the name of your project/tool/topic in the place of ?conferencworkshopname?. For info on how to set up CVS and use Eclipse to checkout CVS, take a look at:

Then your submission of your formal writing is an email including some words like ?My formal writing so far is included in the CVS directory XXXXXX. You can check it out.?

Basically you can view the formal writing that you submit before our one-on-one meetings as a portion of the paper that you are going to submit eventually. Week after week, you will expand the draft by filling in additional text that describes what you have done in the preceding week(s) and in the upcoming week(s).

Note that initially or early in the phase of your formal writing, you shall write the abstract, introduction, example sections early on. In addition, you may also start writing the related work section when you read other researchers? papers early on. Writing these preceding sections doesn?t require any tool implementation or experiment. Then along the way of week-by-week work, you fill in the approach/implementation sections when you have more implementation details figured out and more development work done, you fill in the experiment setup and design sections when you try to set up your experiment, and you fill in the experimental results section when you finish producing experimental results, ?

This mechanism is to fix several issues being faced nowadays.

(a). students tend not to write serious/formal text along the way but put a lot of efforts in formal writing immediately before a submission deadline. Then the students cannot get helps from me on their writing early on.

(b). students tend not to disclose sufficient technical details or progresses of their projects along the way during one-on-one meetings week by week. Often immediately before the deadline, some students gave me ?surprises?, disclosing to me that they didn?t do some part that they were expected (by me) to do or they did something in an un-optimized or incorrect way; then it is often too late to fix these issues when getting too close to a deadline.

(c). when students don?t write things down in formal writing, they don?t have good feeling in the approach/tool design, experiment design, ? I often come up with good new ideas when I formally write down ideas in my proposals and I expect students to enjoy similar benefits by doing formal writing along the way.

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