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The following describes Ian Parberry's guides on research and presenting papers.

Speakers' Guide for Neuroscientists (2000)

B. Spillman and I. Parberry, "How to Present a Paper: A Speaker's Guide", North American Membrane Society, 2000. [pdf]


Congratulations. You are one of only a few who would bother reading a guide on successful presentation style. Most people don't believe they need to learn how to make a presentation. Stand up, present the data, offer conclusions, and answer questions. Yep. Easy. And don't forget the title and summary slides.

But there is a lot more to it than that. Communication. Presentations are one form of communication - a very important form. The way we communicate dictates a great deal of how successful we'll be in our careers. Think about it. In your own experience is "success" more strongly tied to technical ability or to one's "presentation?" In reality, both are important. Your ability to communicate greatly impacts your success on both project and career levels. Being correct but not having the ability to convince others means you will not be heard or seen in many situations.

Referees' Form (1994)

I. Parberry, "A Form for Referees in Theoretical Computer Science". SIGACT News, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 96-107, 1994. [form, instructions]


The Referee's Form is a pdf document designed to help referees communicate more clearly with Editors. It is not intended to replace the formal written report, but is intended as a clear, concise synopsis. The first page of the form is for the Editor's eyes only, but the second page is intended to be forwarded to the author. A brief explanation of each of the responses to the form items follows.

Referees' Guide (1989-1994)

I. Parberry, "A Guide for New Referees in Theoretical Computer Science", Information and Computation, Vol. 112, No. 1, pp. 96-116, 1994. [pdf]

Also appeared in:

SIGACT News, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 92-109, 1989.
Bulletin of the EATCS, No. 40, pp. 511-530, 1990.


Your success as a scientist will in part be measured by the quality of your research publications in high-quality journals and conference proceedings. Of the three classical rhetorical techniques, it is logos, rather than pathos or ethos, which is most commonly associated with scientific publications. In the mathematical sciences the paradigm for publication is to describe the mathematical proofs of propositions in sufficient detail to allow duplication by interested readers. Quality control is achieved by a system of peer review commonly referred to as refereeing.

This guide is an attempt to distill the experience of the theoretical computer science community on the subject of refereeing into a convenient form which can be easily distributed to students and other inexperienced referees. Although aimed primarily at theoretical computer scientists, it contains advice which may be relevant to other mathematical sciences. It may also be of some use to new authors who are unfamiliar with the peer review process. However, it must be understood that this is not a guide on how to write papers. Authors who are interested in improving their writing skills can consult the "Further Reading" section.

Speakers' Guide (1988-1995)

I. Parberry, "How to Present a Paper in Theoretical Computer Science: A Speaker's Guide for Students". SIGACT News, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 42-47, 1988. [pdf]

Also appeared in:

Bulletin of the EATCS, No. 37, pp. 344-349, 1989.
The Bit Dropper, Vol. 29, No. 10, pp. 6-11, 1989.
Translated into Korean in SIGTCS News, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 37-50, 1993.
Adopted by Crypto 95 (distributed to all speakers).
Adopted by the 1996 South Central Small College Computing Conference.


There are many points in your career at which you will be called upon to present a paper in Theoretical Computer Science, perhaps a paper written by somebody else in a graduate seminar, or your own research at a conference, departmental colloquium, or job interview. This skill is particularly important if you intend to pursue a career in academia. While research excellence is the main criterion for success as a theoretical computer scientist, your career will be assisted if you gain a reputation as a competent speaker. A competent speaker will more likely be invited to give colloquia at leading universities and invited talks at important conferences than a mediocre one, provided their research is of similar quality. The expected quality of the presentation can be the deciding factor in the selection or rejection of a controversial conference paper in cases where there is no clear consensus from the program committee.

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