Discussions

We have setup a forum for questions and discussion. It is best to ask questions there so the answers are available to all. If you have problems posting questions by email or accessing the forum in a browser, let the instructor know.

Overview

In the spirit of the course content, we will crowdsource how we read and learn the material. We can more broadly cover the research field if we divide and conquer the papers among the class. The strategy here is quite simple: for every paper, there will be one (or maybe two) presenter and three to four discussants. The students who are not playing one of those two roles will contribute to the discussion forum as listeners

Each week, students will read one or two papers listed on the schedule. Three times per quarter, students will deliver a high-quality presentation of a paper. On the weeks you present a paper, you do not need to be a discussant on a paper. 


As a class, students will sign up as presenters and discussants for particular papers on the first day of class.

Presenters
Every student must sign up to present three research papers in class, and lead the discussion for that paper. Post your presentation for this to the Paper Presentations folder before class, and copy a link to you presentation into Column D into the readings sign-up sheetKeep your presentation short (5 minutes or so, definitely no more than 10 minutes) and prepare a set of key questions to lead a discussion. Each paper will be allocated about 15 minutes of class time for presentation plus discussion.  

How should I read research papers in class?
As a presenter, you should read the paper in-depth. You will be teaching others who have only skimmed the paper. I highly recommend that you print out the paper and take notes with a highlighter and pen.  Prof. Bill Griswold wrote some excellent advice here on how to read and take effective notes on research papers. 

How should I present papers in class? How do I lead a class discussion on a paper?
Your goal is to succinctly teach students what you learned by reading the paper. You don't have much time, so try to hit the key points.  In preparing the presentation, try to make your slides visually interesting. Include relevant figures from the paper. If you mention related work, try to grab a screenshot or a figure from the referenced paper. Use words on your slides at a minimum. Whenever possible, show don't tell. 

The last slide in your presentation should include the paper's title/authors and three questions for discussion. For discussion questions, it is usually helpful for the question to not have a clear answer, but rather be one that people might approach from different perspectives. Avoid questions that are either too easy (e.g., “Was it good that this happened?”) or too general (e.g., “What do you think about X?”).  Take some time to create insightful questions that will fuel generative discussion.


Discussants
Every student must sign up to discuss one or two research papers per week, unless you're presenting that week. We want an even distribution of discussants across papers, so try to sign up for papers with the least number of discussants.  Your job as a discussant is to read the paper in-depth, just like the presenter. Again, see Prof. Griswold's advice on how to read and note take on research papers. You will become an expert on the paper, so be prepared to respond to the presenter's discussion questions and to fill in details that the presenter may have missed.  You should write your own set of discussion questions that we can bring into the discussion. 

Listeners
For papers where you are not assigned as presenter or discussant, your job is three-fold: 1) skim each paper before class (read the abstract/intro, maybe skim the other sections and figure), 2) mostly listen during class and contribute to discussion, and 3) add comments to the paper's online discussion thread.  In the online discussion thread, you can take notes, ask questions, and add additional information that deepens our understanding of the work. 

Please be respectful in the forum. 
Also, don't forget to listen. We will allow you to have your laptops open to contribute to the forum, not to surf Facebook or work on other things.