How to write a critique for a research paper?

Note: this is an active post and I’ll be updating it as I receive feedback or find helpful illustrative examples.

One of my many awesome advisors and teachers, Daniel Abadi, made us write critiques of research papers in his graduate database systems course. It was an excellent exercise as it allowed us to:

  1. think deeply of the work,
  2. create a summary that we can later visit whenever we need to refresh our memory of the work or even to write the related works,
  3. think about new research problems or different research perspectives on our current work, and
  4. practice writing (and believe me you need the practice).

If you read a paper and you like it (or dislike it), write a critique! Adrian Colyer has a popular blog where he critiques research papers in systems and ML.

Read the rest of this entry »

Managing your advisor: the art of the meeting

An effective student-advisor relationship is the foundation of good academic research. This relationship is often structured around weekly meetings.

As a student, keep in mind that your research problem is your main and only work focus and you are expected to initiate and test out ideas as well conduct the majority of the creative (design prototypes, UIs, design experiments, code, think of a proof structure, etc.) or grunt (code, prove, conduct experimental runs, etc.) work.

The advisor is usually your backup, wiser brain. Often, the  advisor presents you with the research problems. She will likely guide you through the problem, outline solutions, remind you of the big picture, refer you to papers, make you think of alternative solutions, designs, implementations, unstick you if you find yourself stuck, help you analyze or figure out the experimental data, and so on. The advisor, however, is a busy, multitasking machine, often advising multiple students with varying demands on her time, teaching courses, writing grants, building research networks, serving on conference committees, or dealing with university business. I never appreciated the faculty workload until I became an assistant professor.

The advisor brain is thus an expensive resource, which you must efficiently manage. I hope you would find some benefit in these advisor meeting & management tips: Read the rest of this entry »