Graduate Research Skills Seminars, Jan-Apr 2007.


A series of seminars on research skills and related topics intended for all graduate students in the Department of Computer Science. These are typically held on alternate Thursdays, 3-5pm, in BA1200. The series is coordinated by Ravin Balakrishnan this semester, modeled after a similar very successful one run by Steve Easterbrook in 2003.




Thursday, 15 March 2007, 15:00 - 17:00
Location: BA1200
Topic: How theses get written: some cool tips


Speaker: Professor Steve Easterbrook



To get your PhD, you have to write a thesis. But what is a thesis, and how do you go about writing one? The single most important piece of advice I received when I was a graduate student was to start writing my thesis immediately, and to plan all my work in terms of which part of the thesis it would be contributing to. This talk presents that same advice in detail. I will cover how to design a central argument for your thesis, how to turn this into a chapter plan, and how to collect material to include in the chapters. I will also address the perspective of the examiners, and in particular how they go about reading (or not reading!) a thesis, and what they may look for as evidence that the thesis is worthy of a PhD.



Thursday, 1 March 2007, 15:00 - 17:00
Location: BA1200
Topic: How to get your stuff published


Speakers: Professors Graeme Hirst and Gregory Wilson



Hirst will discuss academic publishing: How does academic publishing work? What does it take to get a paper into an academic journal or conference? He will answer these questions, discuss peer-reviewing, and describe how to approach the task of writing a paper with the aim of getting it published.

Wilson will discuss publishing in "non-traditional" venues (trade journals, books, etc.).




Thursday, 8 February 2007, 15:00 - 17:00
Location: BA1200
Topic: How to choose a research problem.


Panelists: Professors Yashar Ganjali, Hector Levesque, Sven Dickinson, and Khai Truong




This seminar is aimed at grad students at all levels, both M.Sc. and Ph.D. The panelists, who work in a diverse range of areas within computer science, will give a short presentation outlining their advice and discussing their experiences. We'll then open it up to general discussion.


Vannevar Bush's classic article "As we may think", which was mentioned during the seminar.

Aaron Hertzmann recommends: "Getting What You Came For" by Robert Peters, and Richard Hamming's talk "You And Your Research."

Early work on user interface and graphics research at the Lincoln Labs



Thursday, 25 January 2007, 15:00 - 17:00
Location: BA1200
Topic: Overcoming writer's block.


Speaker: Steve Hoselton



Writer’s block can be experienced either as a sustained difficulty in producing text or as an ongoing dissatisfaction with the text produced. In both cases, the writing process becomes laboured and unproductive. Because writer’s block is the result of one or several underlying, unresolved conflicts – in effect, a symptom – the cause usually must be addressed to remove the block. Three useful ways of understanding the causes of writer’s block emerge from three distinct paradigms: the institutional context of academic writing, which structures expression; the power imbalance experienced by the writer, which creates vulnerability and self-doubt; and misconceptions about the nature of the writing process itself, which confound expressive agility. With a better understanding of context and process, writers are often able to reconfigure their relationship with writing and overcome the block.


Speaker's Bio:

Steve Hoselton has a background in the study of history, psychology and education. He has worked at the University of Toronto since 1993 both as a writing instructor and as a learning skills counsellor. Since 2000, he has been the Director of the St. Michael’s College Writing Centre where he works with students individually and in seminars to improve their writing skills and overcome obstacles to their academic success. This year, he has been attached to Computer Science as part of a FAS pilot project to help assess and enhance the role of writing in the department. His interest in writer’s block has developed from his ongoing interaction with the many students, staff and faculty who experience it.



Thursday, 11 January 2007, 15:00 - 17:00
Location: BA1200
Topic: How to interview for a faculty position.

Panelists: Professors Nick Koudas, Aaron Hertzmann, Ryan Lilien, Michael Brudno, and Steve Easterbrook.

The seminar is mostly aimed at graduate students who are near to finishing and will be seeking an academic position in the near future. However, it may also be of interest to anyone thinking in the long term about academic careers. The panelists will discuss their experiences from having been on the interview circuit in the recent past, as well as their views from the other side of the fence as faculty members evaluating candidates. Steve will also provide insights from his past experience as chair of our department's faculty recruiting committee for several years.

Mike Brudno's slides on Job Applications

Nick Koudas' slides on Interviewing

Aaron Hertzmann's slides on Negotiating