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2015 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-Saclay, 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.

The second part of the course will move to Mondays at 9h00, and will involve 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 me 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 "2015 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: 2015 MR2 Assignment <number> <assignment name>
Example: Subject: MR2 Assignment #1 Best Paper Report

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: 16 September 2015

Slides | Introduction
Handout | Assignment #1: Find and read a 'best paper'
Handout | Assignment #2: Research Notebook

No class on 23 September 2015

Session 2: 30 September 2015

Slides | Reviewing Papers
Handout | Assignment #3: Write a Review

Session 3: 7 October 2015

Slides | Career planning
Handout | Assignment #4: Letter of Recommendation request

Session 4: 14 October 2015

Slides | Technical Writing 1
Handout | Assignment #5: Write an Abstract and a Citation

No class on 21 October 2015 | HCI Bootcamp Final Presentations

Session 5: 28 October 2015

Slides | Writing a research paper

Session 6: 4 November 2015

Slides | Giving Presentations 1
Handout | Assignment #6: Give a presentation

Session 7: 19 November 2015| Final presentations at 14h00