Writing papers, giving research talks, and writing research proposals are key skills, but they
aren't easy. This page describes how I approach each of these three challenges,
in the hope that they may be useful to you.
(Note: I used to maintain a list of translations of this page into other languages, but maintaining this list turned out be an unexpectedly onerous task. I could not distinguish between genuine offers and search engine optimisation tactics; many of them were from commercial coupon sites; I could not distinguish good manual translations from bad machine translations; and I was spending too much time dealing with email about it. So I've removed them all. Sorry. Just use an online translation service, or a web search for an online translation.)
How to give a good research talk
"How to give a good research talk",
Simon Peyton Jones, John Launchbury, John Hughes,
SIGPLAN Notices 28(11), Nov 1993.
How to write a great research paper
This talk offers seven simple, concrete suggestions for how to improve your research papers.
Powerpoint slides of the talk: PPT
Video of me giving the talk (60 mins, includes Q&A).
- Another video of the talk
(shorter: 34 mins), Cambridge Computer Lab, Spring 2013,
with thanks to Neil Dodgson for the editing and production.
- Other languages
- Derek Dreyer's excellent PLMW'16 talk "How to write papers so that people can read them"
tackles exactly the same question as my talk, and also offers seven concrete
suggestion -- and they are interestingly different from mine!
How to write a good research proposal
"How to write a good research proposal", Simon Peyton Jones and Alan Bundy.
Finally, here are some pointers to other advice I have found useful,
though Google will find you a lot more besides.
- You and your research, Hamming's famous 1986 talk on how to do great research.
- The Navigators Research Book of Style is a slide deck from the Navigators research group at the University of Lisbon. It covers choosing a research topic, doing research, and writing and submitting a paper.
- Research tips (including how to do research, how to write and present a paper, how to design a poster, how to review, etc), by Sylvia Miksch
Notes on presenting theses, edited by Aaron Sloman, gives useful guidelines and ideas for PhD students writing their thesis.
Chris O'Leary's essays about writing an "elevator pitch". This stuff, especially the
list of attributes in the "Elevator pitch 101" page, is very relevant to writing a
good grant proposal.
- Guide for preparation and publication of abstracts and
A scrutiny of the abstract, both by Kenneth Landes in Geological Notes.
These short notes give guidance about writing the abstract of your paper. (Both require
a DjVu viewer which you can get from LizardTech.)
- Norman Ramsey's notes about his
class on Technical Writing.
- Mathematical Writing,
by Donald E. Knuth et al. The first three
sections constitute a minicourse on technical writing: only eight pages
long. The time to read it will repay itself many times over.
- How to Write Mathematics, by PR Halmos.
- Gian-Carlo Rota's excellent talk
Ten lessons I wish I had been taught, which, among other things,
has a bit to say about giving a talk.
- David Patterson's talk
How to have a bad career in research/academia has many wise
things to say on a related topic.
- Mark Leone's page
has a good collection of links to other
- Papers about measurement: