Some thoughts about writing a survey paper
February 25, 2008
Regular research papers are a description of your own research. A survey paper is a service to the scientiﬁc community. You are doing their research for them. Instead of reading 20+ papers to understand what a scientiﬁc topic is about, they just need to read your paper. Which subjects should you write a survey about: ﬁelds which are on the verge of maturity, but do not yet qualify for a book. If there are less than 10 scientiﬁc papers in a ﬁeld, do not write a survey. If all the 10 are from the same author, do not write a survey. If there is already an exhaustive, recent survey, do not write another What should it go into a survey paper? The question needs to be asked in reverse: what do you want from a survey? How do you make the survey most useful to the readers? Introduction - A clear description of the ﬁeld. What is it a subset of? What is the current status? - Boilerplate is not useful → bla-bla-bla networks have seen a lot of interest in recent years... - short history: was there a seminal paper, research funding, special event, invention of an algorithm which spurred the development. Do not be afraid to anchor your domain in reality. 9/11 spurred a lot of research development (and funding) in surveillance system. The introduction of java gave a new impetus to just-in-time compiler optimization research, and so on. - Which are the conferences, workshops, journals, special editions which are carrying the papers related to the topic? Terminology Introduce the terminology of the ﬁeld, describe what the various terms mean. What is very important is to map the terminological variations. For instance, in the sensor network domain, mobile sink, mobile agent, mobile data collectors usually means the same thing. In addition, some researchers 1
borrow terms like actuator, or invent speciﬁc new terms like “mole” for the same thing. You need to clerify these things, so start by keeping a note of the...
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