Simon Peyton Jones
This talk offers seven simple, concrete suggestions for how to improve your research papers. You may also find my talks on how to write a great research proposal and how to give a great research talk useful.
- Powerpoint slides of the talk: PDF PPT (you should feel free to repurpose these slides for your own use as long as you acknowledge ownership)
- Another video of the talk (shorter: 34 mins), Cambridge Computer Lab, Spring 2013, with thanks to Neil Dodgson for the editing and production.
- Slides translated into Arabic (Suzan Alkhodair) and Japanese (KADO Masanori)
- I have also collected a set of links to other useful material about technical writing, on the Other Resources tab
Here are some pointers to other useful advice:
- 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.
- 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 resources.
- Papers about measurement:
- Producing wrong data without doing anything obviously wrong! Mytkowicz, Diwan, Hauswirth and Sweeney, ASPLOS 2009.
- How not to lie with statistics – the correct way to summarise benchmark results Fleming & Wallace, CACM 29(3), pp218-221, March 1986.
- Derek Dreyer’s excellent PLMW’16 talk “How to write papers so that people can read them” (slides here, video here) tackles exactly the same question as my talk, and also offers seven concrete suggestions — and they are interestingly different from mine!
- The blog post by Igor Pak on ‘How to write math papers clearly’ is also useful.