Research Aid

How to write an outline

I have put together a one page summary on how to do an outline. This should help you in getting organized to write a paper, your proposal, or even your dissertation. These guidelines come from the book "The complete Stylist and Handbook" by Sheridan Baker. I used these notes when I was writting my dissertation and found them very helpful. Of course, you might want to check out the full book and/or other books on the topic.

Writing guidelines

First Monday has a nice set of guidelines pointing to resources that assist you in your writing. Check them out:

Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography? There are many different definitions, some more specific to each technical discipline. There are two good guides on how to do an annotated bibliography on the web, one is at Cornell ( ) and the other one at the Wisconsin ( ). These are not the only two, just two that I have found helpful.

You might also want to check out our VT Library page ( ), particularly the section Research Skills.

Finally, you can always search the ACM Portal ( ) to find examples of annotated bibliographies. Be careful, though, on what you find on the web. Some material might or might not be of high quality. So, use the examples as just examples (some of them might be bad examples).

Research Questions, Hypothesis and Proposal, Oh My!

A common are of trouble for students writing their proposal is understanding the difference between research questions and hypothesis. This page has a very nice and short description of this issue, check it out.

Here is a good presentation on what to do to have a bad research career (cached copy).

Presenting your thesis or dissertation work

I have a separate page with guidelines on how to present your work. In particular, these apply to proposal and research defense.

How to write a proposal

The CRA had an Academic Careers Workshop ( ) in Feb 2002. Mir Farooq Ali participated in the workshop and recommended that all PhD students should look at the material available in that page. I have made local copies of a couple of them in case they dissapear from the web. These are related to writing proposals:

Searching for Papers

Here is a list of a number of places that are good starting points to search for papers. Explore the different sites and become familiar with them and with the different functionality that each provides. For example, ACM has a nice feature in their digital library, the binder, that helps you save search results to access them later. As of 2007, I have started using a bit more to organize my references.

Research with Human Subjects

To be able to do usability testing and other research that involves human subjects, we need to get prior approval from the Insitutional Review Board (IRB). The approval process usually takes between 1 or 2 weeks, so plan accordingly. You can find the guidelines and submission process at their website ( I need to review your submission before you turn it in, so make sure you give me time to review your work before you submit it.