Informatics Research Review (IRR)
Introductory lecture: 2pm Wednesday 19th
September 2012 in the Appleton Tower Lecture Theathre 5
The course is delivered as a sequence of 10 tutorials.
Attendance is mandatory
Weekly tutorials will be held starting week 3 of the semester.
Days and times will be arranged by your tutor.
[groups and tutors]
This course provides students with the opportunity to explore an area
of interest in more depth than allowed in a standard taught course.
This takes the form of reviews of the literature or research seminars
in topics related to the specialism. One of the main aims of this
course is to teach students a set of very useful transferrable skills,
in particular how to do the following: manage one's time, identify
relevant literature to a particular topic, use web and library
resources effectively, read a research paper, formulate hypotheses and
identify the methods needed to evaluate them, write a detailed and
balanced report on a particular topic.
Activities and Outcomes
This course is delivered by TAs, who are normally PhD students. You
will be one in a group of about 10 students, all majoring in the same
MSc specialisms as you.
Each MSc student must:
- In collaboration with their TA, select 3 or 4 articles from the
papers appropriate for the subject they intend to review.
These are to be read in detail. You may also find it necessary to skim
through additional articles, and use those in your literature review
to relate the research in the 3 or 4 articles that you have chosen.
Choosing these articles to read involves learning to search and use
databases of scientific literature, as well as searching traditional
Critically evaluate the selected articles, learning how to test
existing theories and systems on hypotheses and concrete examples
devised by the student.
- Deliver a detailed and balanced report on the articles studied.
Skills to be Developed
The literature survey is designed to help you develop the following
- Reading at different levels of depth. You cannot read
all the papers your survey must cover. Identify the key papers and
read them all in the traditional way.
- Locating relevant papers. You will be given a few
pointers to papers to start you off, but then you are on your own. To
discover some more there are various methods. Look in the bibliography
of those papers you have already got to identify other authors in the
field. This will only take you backwards, however. To go forward look
for recent publications by the same authors or other papers on this
topic. You can search the library catalogue (some are on
CD-ROM). There are publications which give forward
pointers, i.e. list papers which cite some paper. You can
access the www pages of the authors or you can email them. You can
skim through relevant journals or conference proceedings. You may find
online resources useful for tracking down papers
- Organising the material. It will not be enough to merely
record who said what when. You must try and relate the papers you have
read. What were the key ideas and when and by whom did they appear?
How were they propagated? What were the dead-ends? What are the rival
approaches and the hot issues? Try to tell a story about the
development of the research.
- Managing your time. The available time can easily be
dissipated in undirected reading and fruitless searching. You must
structure your activities to make efficient use of your time. Leave
plenty of time for writing the report. Do not leave everything until
the week before the deadline.
The literature review is due at 4pm on 17th January
. Please submit a paper copy of your report to the ITO
(Appleton Tower 4.02). In addition, please submit your assignment, in
pdf format, using the TurnItIn website:
You will be given written feedback on your assignment in February.
This module is a pass/fail one (i.e., you don't get a percentage as a
mark). You will know whether you passed it after the Board of
Examiner's meeting in June.
Please read the Informatics policy on late submissions and plagiarism.
What is a good literature review?
as to how one might
write a good literature review. There are also
IRR Marking Guidelines
for how marks will be assigned.