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Tutorial @ IJCB 2023

Power Papers: Some Practical Pointers

If I write with the flowery flourish of Shakespeare, but my prose proves problematic, then my words become like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of mathematical genius and can fathom all theorems, but cannot articulate the arcane, my genius appears no different from madness. If I achieve breakthrough research that can change the world, but cannot explain its significance, the world gains nothing and I labor in vain.


Writing a good research paper takes effort; more so if there is a page limit. Yet this skill is required of every researcher, who, more often than not, fumbles his or her way through.


Good grammar is only a start; care and craft must be applied to turn a mediocre paper into a memorable one. Writing skills can indeed be honed.


In this reprise talk, I will highlight the common mistakes many researchers make, and offer practical pointers to pack more punch into your paper. Needless to say, the talk will be biased: I will speak not from linguistic theories, but from personal experience, sharing what has, and has not, worked for me.


I will cover the major sections of a technical paper: the Title, Introduction, Related Work, Figures and Tables, and Conclusion. I will discuss the purpose of each section, present common mistakes, and provide concrete examples of good writing. I will also show how the different sections ought to be linked to reinforce the message behind the paper. ​For hands-on practice, participants will edit a short piece of text, and peer-review each other’s work.


The intended audience is the graduate student writing his/her first paper, but everyone is welcome. Seasoned writers are encouraged to share their experience of how they improved their writing.

Over twenty years at my School and other universities, I have given this talk numerous times. Many graduate students have remarked that it has helped them write better, and review papers more critically.


Please find the slides here:

Power Papers 1

Power Papers 2

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