Research Methods

Lecture 9: preparing presentations


How to prepare a presentation from Neil Dodgson on Vimeo.

Exercises 7,8 & 9

The rehearsal schedule requires you to attend one session at which you rehearse your presentation and to observe one other session.

To help you find a paper to present, academic staff in the Computer Laboratory were each asked to send me the name of the key journal and the key conference in their bit of computer science. These are their replies. The CORE ranking of ICT conferences provides an external check on these answers.

Computer Architecture

Conference: International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA)

Natural Language and Information Processing

Conference: Annual meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Journal: Computational Linguistics

Digital Technology

Conference: Proceedings of Ubiquitous Computing

Journal: IEEE Pervasive Computing

Commentary (Alastair Beresford): One cannot be as definitive about one journal and one conference as in some other areas. Perhaps our field needs to undergo some consolidation, but if I had to pick one of each without too much analysis, I would select those above. Other prominent conferences include "Pervasive" "PerCom" and "MobiSys". None, in my opinion, has settled to become the top dog yet.

Graphics & Interaction

Peter Robinson & Alan Blackwell (interaction)

Conference: ACM SIGCHI

Journal: IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (Robinson), International Journal of Human Computer Studies (Blackwell)

Commentary (Robinson): I suppose that the received wisdom is that ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems (CHI) is the leading conference for HCI. I am only marginally convinced, but it remains the case that anyone working in the area should be aware of it. Rather more narrowly, the IEEE Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII) and the ACM Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS) are useful. Journals are less clear. I would probably go for IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence for the best science. Of course, it has a lot of other stuff as well. The received wisdom would probably be ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI). Looking down the sources for the Innovative User Interfaces course, Communications of the ACM is also good.

Neil Dodgson (computer graphics)

Journal: ACM Transactions on Graphics

Conference: ACM SIGGRAPH (whose proceedings are a special issue of ACM Transactions on Graphics)

Artificial Intelligence

John Daugman (computer vision)

Conferences: Int'l Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR), Int'l Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)

Journal: IEEE Trans. on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence

Sean Holden (machine learning)

Conference: International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML)

Journal: Journal of Machine Learning Research, Machine Learning


Conferences: Advances in Cryptology (CRYPTO/EUROCRYPT/ASIACRYPT), IEEE Workshop on Security and Privacy (IEEE-SP), ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX-SEC), Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS)


Commentary (Markus Kuhn): The top conferences rarely accept much more than 10% of submissions, i.e. less than most journals. This is also true for a number of far more specialized workshops, where I find that most of the really exciting stuff gets published and referenced. Journals don't really play the same role in our community as they do in mathematics and natural sciences. Many consider them more vehicles for formal academic career promotion rather than high-impact communicating channels.

Programming, Logic, and Semantics

Larry Paulson & Mike Gordon (automated reasoning)

Conference: TPHOLs (Theorem Proving in Higher order Logics), which is being renamed to ITP (Interactive Theorem Proving) for/from 2010.

Journal: Journal of Automated Reasoning

Commentary: another important conference (perhaps higher prestige than TPHOLs, but somewhat focused on stuff not done at Cambridge), is CAV.

Alan Mycroft, Matthew Parkinson & Peter Sewell (programming, semantics, compilers and language design)

Conferences: ESOP and ACM SIGPLAN/SIGACT Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL)

Journal: ACM Transaction on Programming Languages, Applications and Systems (TOPLAS), Journal of Functional Programming (JFP)

Andrew Pitts, Sam Staton & Marcelo Fiore (theory)

Conferences: ACM Principles of Programming Languages (POPL) and IEEE Logic in Computer Science (LICS)

Journals: Theoretical Computer Science [Pitts & Fiore], Mathematical Structures in Computer Science [P&F], Journal of the ACM [P], Logical Methods in Computer Science [P&S], Information and Computation [F&S], Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science [F], Journal of Symbolic Computation [F]

Anuj Dawar (logic)

Conference: IEEE Symposium on Logic in Computer Science (LICS)

Journals: the key journal is a tricky issue. For journals specifically devoted to Logic in Computer Science, I would pick the ACM Transactions on Computational Logic. But, some of the best papers get published in journals with somewhat broader scope, so I would also mention Journal of the ACM, and SIAM Journal on Computing.


Jon Crowcroft & Andrew Moore

Conference: ACM SIGCOMM

Journal: ACM/IEEE Transactions on Network

Commentary (Andrew Moore): The question has a complex answer. The top conference is debatable. ACM-a-holics might say ACM SIGCOMM, but then there is measurement ACM Internet Measurement Conference, and then there is the implementers' USENIX/ACM Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation, and my personal favourite ACM/IEEE Symposium on Architectures for Networking and Communications Systems. Now if you are an IEEE-head, the top conference is IEEE INFOCOM and the longest running measurement conference (and another favourite) is Passive and Active Measurement. If the question was "what publication venue guarantees an interview at Cambridge/MIT/Stanford/Berkeley/UCL..." see the top of this section.

Steven Hand

Conference: Symposium on Operating Systems (SOSP)

Journal: Transactions on Computer Systems (TOCS)

Cecilia Mascalo

Conferences: ACM Mobicom (mobile communications), ACM Mobisys (mobile systems), ACM Sensys (sensor network)

Journal: journals in my area are not greatly respected. The best is ACM Transactions on Mobile Computing.

Jean Bacon

It depends whether we're publishing on middleware, pervasive computing, security aspects of these, policy-driven systems, databases or application to transport or healthcare. There are different communities for these aspects

Conferences: Middleware, Distributed Event-based Systems (DEBS), IEEE Policy

Journals: we do not publish in journals, except by invitation


  • Presentation Zen — Garr Reynolds approach to great presentations
  • Made to Stick — Dan & Chip Heath's explanation of why some ideas survive and others die

Hints & tips from the lecture

The ten minute talk

  • Who? — title, author, venue, date
  • What? — the key idea
  • Why? — why it is important
  • How? — some technical details (if there is time)
  • Where? — where it leads next

The right questions to ask

from Presentation Zen, Garr Reynolds

  • How much time do I have?
  • What is the venue like?
  • What time of day?
  • Who are the audience?
  • What is their background?
  • What do they expect of me?
  • What do I want them to do?
  • What is the fundamental purpose of my talk?
  • What is the story?
  • What is my absolutely central point?

SUCCESS criteria

from Made to Stick, Dan & Chip Heath

  • Simplicity
  • Unexpectedness
  • Concreteness
  • Credibility
  • Emotions
  • Stories