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2014 MR2 Research Seminar

The goal of the MR2 Research Seminar (Formation à la Recherche) is to introduce Masters (and Ph.D.) students to a career in research.

This course is essential if you plan to apply for a Ph.D. grant, either at the Université Paris-Sud, or elsewhere. However, the course is also relevant for anyone who plans to join a startup, to conduct research at Inria, CNRS, or an industrial research laboratory, or to work in any international organization.

I will emphasize technical writing and communication in English, with a series of exercises, both in class and as homework assignments. You will also receive practical training, including how to choose a research topic, how to search, review and cite the research literature, how to organize and write a research paper and how to present your research project.

I will discuss the politics of research, including the publication process, deciding where to publish, choosing a doctoral program, cultural differences in research, different types of research careers, as well as plagarism and research ethics.

Finally, we will invite several guest lecturers to cover diverse topics, such as last year's: How to manage your advisor, Alan Turing and Bibliometrics. We will set up at least two panel discussions, one with the heads of the three Masters programs and the head of the U. Paris-Sud Doctoral School, the other with current Ph.D. students and post-docs. If you have suggestions for other topics, lecturers or activities, such as lab visits, please let us know.

I wish this seminar had been available to us when I was starting my research career, and I hope that you enjoy it. My goal is to help you make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue a career in research and to prepare you for an excellent internship next spring.


The Research seminar requires your presence: 50% of your grade is based on your attendance and in-class participation.\\ If you feel uncomfortable speaking English, you are welcome to ask questions in French and we will translate for the non-French speakers.
If you cannot come to class for some reason, please let me know in advance. Please put "2014 MR2" in the subject line.

Homework assignments make up the other 50% of your grade. To receive credit, you must:
1. Send us an email by the due date, as follows:

Subject: 2014 MR2 <Assignment name> <version #> <YOUR LAST NAME> <Your First name>
Example: Subject: 2014 MR2 Review #1 MACKAY Wendy

2. Bring a printed paper copy in class, including the above information, especially your name!

3. Important Check we have recorded your work, this will affect your grade.

Readings and Handouts

The following book is a classic that has taught several generations of native English speakers to write clearly and well. It has the advantage of being very short and clearly written. You can buy the book, or download an on-line version:

Elements of Style (Strunk and White):

The following is a useful essay on how to write a better research paper:

Everyone Can Write Better (Clark):

If you would like to take a coursera course, which involves registering first, try this:
Coursera - Writing in the Sciences

Stanford - Writing in the Sciences


Session 1: 1 October 2014

Assignment 1: Research Notebook
Assignment 2: Find and read a 'best paper'

No class on 8 October 2014

Session 2: 15 October 2014
You may choose any research article in your field. Please do not choose survey or theory papers; focus on papers with a specific research contribution.

Assignment 3: Review an article

HCI articles

IAC articles

NSI articles

None provided

Session 3: 22 October 2014
Note that you may resubmit assignment #3 (review an article), based on the feedback you received in class.

Assignment 3: Review an article
Assignment 3: Attach:2014_Research_Assignment_3_instructions Instructions and review form
Assignment 4: Ask for a letter of recommendation

No class on 29 October 2014

Session 4: 5 November 2014


Due on 5 November: Email and paper versions of assignment #3 (review) and assignment #4 (letter of recommendation)

Session 5: 12 November 2014

Assignment 5: Write an abstract

Session 6: 19 November 2014


Due on 26 November: Email and paper versions of assignment #5 (Abstract)

Session 7: 26 November 2014

Assignment 6: Prepare a presentation

No class on 3 due to HCI Boot Camp
10 December 2014: Find out about possible HCI Master internships (stages) in HCI
Session 8: 17 December 2014

Final presentations: Find a partner and prepare a 5-minute talk in class, using four slides.