Paper reading and discussion:

During most class meetings we will discuss visualization research papers. You will have (1) read and provided (2) written feedback on the papers prior to class so that we can have an engaged discussion during class. Please submit your written feedback on Canvas in the respective discussion thread.

What kind of papers will we be covering in this course? In short, different types of visualization research. Here is a short medium post by Jessica Hullman about ‘What is visualization research?’.

The Harvard library provides a way to get access to an article behind a paywall.


Here are some guidelines about what we will expect from you in this class:

How to read and discuss a paper:
When you read a research paper, you should extract and analyze the contribution of the paper. A contribution is given if another researcher can learn something new and important from the work that is applicable to other scenarios. Here are some main pointers to keep in mind, especially for your written summary:

  • What is the research problem the paper attempts to address? What is the motivation?
  • What are the claimed contributions of the authors? What do you consider to be the main contribution? (In many cases this hopefully overlaps, but there might be some cases where you feel differently.)
  • What is the general concept and how is the actual implementation?
  • What are the data characteristics?
  • Is the paper novel, valuable, and valid? How is the evaluation done?
  • How is the paper generalizable? What have you learned from the paper?
  • What could be some interesting future work?

In our in-class discussions we will collect and debate the different views on the papers you have read. Every student is expected to moderate and lead a discussion once to twice a semester.

How to present your research:
Throughout the semester you will have to give three presentations about your semester project, as well as give one introductory talk on a selected visualization topic.

Here are some pointers for your presentations:

  • Adhere to the set time limit! (Make sure you know exactly how much time you have for your presentation.)
  • Keep your audience in mind! The focus should not be on what and how much you present, but what your audience will remember!
  • Give the audience an intuitive feel about your idea and excite them! Make them glad they came to your talk!
  • Get the level of detail right! Most young researchers put in too many low-level details and do not get the big picture across. The goal is not to impress the audience with your brain power but to make them eager to know more about your research.
  • Practice your presentation before class! Speak it out loud (that is essential!), exactly as you are planning to give it in class.

Your in-class presentations are opportunities to develop your presentation skills. Chances are, you will have to give a talk for your next job application.

How to write a paper:
When writing a research paper, your goals are to:

  • Communicate your ideas and persuade people of your approach.
  • Describe and discuss experiments and results.
  • Allow others to reproduce your results precisely.
  • Be honest.

There is a nice collection of tips on how to write a CS research paper by Fredo Durant at MIT.

How to review a paper draft:
When reviewing the paper draft of fellow students, please be professional and polite. Try to be as specific as possible with your feedback and stay positive! You should thoroughly read and discuss the paper based on the points listed above. Also evaluate the pros and cons of the following points:

  • Importance of the problem.
  • Novelty of solution.
  • Quality of results.
  • Thoroughness of result analysis.
  • Quality of writing and presention.