Assignment 2: Paper mechanics

Paper due date: March 27, 2017 at 23:59 CDT
Reviews due date: April 10, 2017 at 23:59 CDT
Presentation dates: April 17, 2017; April 24, 2017; May 1, 2017 (as needed)
Revision due date: May 1, 2017 at 10:00 CDT


The goal of this assignment is to become familiar with most of the mechanics of paper writing, submission, reviewing, revising, and presentation.


You must write your own paper. Unlike traditional homework assignments, you are encouraged to read your peers’ papers and make suggestions for improvement. These suggestions can take the form of:

Indeed, when reviewing your peers’ papers as part of this assignment, you will be doing precisely this.

The Assignment

There are two versions this assignment, depending on whether you’ve taken the Written Critique and Presentation (WCP) exam or not. The only difference between the two options is the topic of your paper.

Option 1. Pre-WCP

If you have not taken your WCP, you may choose this option. If you have already taken your WCP, you must choose option 2.

If you select (or are required to do) option 1, then you will write a paper that is very similar in form to the WCP. In particular, you will choose a narrow topic in Computer Science, select three articles on this topic, and write a summary and critical review of them. Unlike Assignment 1, the topic you choose should be a topic you are interested in for your own research. Ideally, it should be related enough to your research topic that you can use this review as part of the related work chapter of your proposal/thesis. The three papers must have been published at a reputable (preferably top-tier) conference or in a good journal. The conference papers must be full-length papers. I.e., no 3-page posters or “extended-abstracts.”

IMPORTANT: You will not be able to use these same papers–and certainly not the writing–in your WCP. So if you already have some idea of what your WCP will be about, you cannot use the same papers.

The content of the paper should be similar to Assignment 1, but with an important difference: It’s not three paper critiques one after the other; it must be a coherent whole.

Here are some questions your paper should address.

Option 2. Post-WCP

If you have already taken your WCP, you must choose option 2. If you are actively working on your WCP and expect to finish this semester or shortly thereafter but have not finished, you may choose either option 1 or 2.

If you select (or are required to do) option 2, then you will write a short “mock-up” of your thesis proposal (or what could become your thesis proposal).

A thesis proposal should contain introductory exposition explaining the area and its importance, background material including a discussion of your prior work on the topic (if you have done any), and what work you are proposing to do. See the EVL thesis proposal template for guidance on the material that belongs in a thesis proposal. If you have not done significant work on a topic already, you can decrease the amount of text describing what you have done and increase what you will do.

General requirements

Regardless of the option you choose, your paper should be at least six pages and at most eight page (excluding references) These are hard limits. The paper should

We are going to follow the “double-blind review” process. This means that your name should not appear on your submission. This is going to be a little awkward for option 2 papers since your prior work will contain your name. For submission, references to your own work must have use “Blinded For Review” as the author. For the camera-ready version, you will include your name on the first page and in any references to your own work.

You may use the Assignment 1 template (with any appropriate modifications).

If you have any questions about how to format anything, particularly references, please ask on Piazza.


Once the papers are submitted, you will switch roles from author to reviewer. You will be assigned three papers to review. Full details of the review process will be made available at a later date.

You must provide anonymous reviews by the date give at the top of this page. This is essential so that the authors have time to incorporate feedback from your review into their work.


After a paper is accepted for publication, the authors are given a final chance to incorporate reviewer comments into their paper and submit a final version. This version is known as the camera-ready version.

After the reviewing deadline has passed, you will be given access to the (anonymous) reviews. At this point, you should unblind your paper (i.e., you should add your name to it as well as fix any references that were blinded for review). You should incorporate the reviewers feedback (as long as it is good feedback) into your paper. Finally, you should submit the camera-ready version.


The final portion of the assignment is for you to present your paper to the class. Most conference presentations are 20-30 minutes in length. Your presentation will be shorter. More details on the presentation will be made available later.


We will be using the conference management software HotCRP for submission and reviewing. More details will be made available later.