CMSC 691B Research Paper Guidelines
March 30, 2004
The final deliverable for the class is a research paper on your topic.
For most of you, this paper will take the form of a research
proposal. Some of you may actually have research results to
report; that's fine, too.
Although there are no minimum or maximum page requirements, I expect
that most of the papers will be around 15-20 pages long. Your
paper should, at a minimum, include the following sections. (Note that
your sections do not need to
use these words in the titles; section headers should be descriptive.
Also, you do not necessarily need to follow this order; for example, it
may make sense to include a discussion of related work before your
There are five deliverables associated with the final paper:
- An abstract of
approximately 200 words, summarizing the problem that your proposed
research addresses, and your proposed approach.
- An introductory section
that motivates the problem, explains why this is an important, unsolved
problem, and gives an overview of your proposed approach. This
section should make an explicit, testable claim, and indicate the
process by which you will test your claim.
- Background sections as
needed, describing the problem and any existing techniques that you are
building on or extending.
- Technical approach,
outlining your innovative method for solving the problem that you have
presented. This section should be fairly detailed. Vague
generalities are not acceptable.
- Methodology section,
describing your planned approach for testing the claim you have made.
For most of you, this section will consist of descriptions of
domains or data sets, a discussion of metrics, and an experimental
design plan. Some of you may be taking a more theoretical
approach, in which case you should discuss what theorems you may need
to prove, or what analyses you need to perform.
- If you have preliminary (or complete) research results, you
should include a Results
- A related work
section. This should be a compressed and focused version of your
literature survey, in which you discuss previous work and how it
relates to your proposed research. Simply describing existing
systems or algorithms is not sufficient; you need to explicitly discuss
how your work is "bigger and better" than previous approaches, or why
those approaches were inadequate for solving the problem you are
- Future work: Once you've
completed the research described in this paper, what would your next
steps be? What significant open problems will remain, and how might you
- Conclusions: Summarize the
"take-away lessons" that a reader should learn from reading your paper.
- Research problem statement
(due this Thursday, April 1): A one- to two-page summary of the problem your proposed research is
addressing, why it is important,
and how you propose to solve
it. If you have thought about methodology and evaluation, you should
discuss that as well. The primary purpose of this deliverable is to let
me know what you're working on, so that I can give you early feedback.
You can think of this as a very preliminary draft of your introduction
- Research problem statement
revision (due Thursday, April 15): This is basically an
early draft of your research paper, focusing primarily on the technical approach and methodology sections. As usual,
there is no specific page limit or target, but I would expect these
papers to be around 3-5 pages.
- Research paper draft (due
Tuesday, April 27): A full draft of the paper. These drafts
should be as complete as possible, since they will be reviewed by other
students and by myself. If there are sections that have not yet been
written, or material that isn't included in the draft, you should
explicitly mention that, so that the reviewers know where you're
planning to expand, and can take that into account in their comments.
Please remember that no late
submissions will be accepted for paper drafts.
- Research paper reviews
(due Tuesday, May 4): Reviews of two other students' paper drafts.
- Final research paper (due
Tuesday, May 18): Final papers will be due at the time of the
final exam slot for the class. Since there is no final exam for
the class, several student presentations will also be scheduled on this