The Art of Research Paper Writing and the Research Iceberg Analogy

  1. During the research process: Many explorations are often needed before fully determining what a paper is about, many of which might end up not being in the final publication.
  2. During the writing process: There is significant value in having a clean, clear, and simple focus for a research paper, which may mean excluding some of the explorations done as part of (1).
  1. A researcher is unsure of what to do next as part of their research project. They might be deciding between paths X and Y. Because they are not sure whether X or Y will be in the final research paper, they end up doing neither. They hope to figure out which of X or Y will be in the paper first, before proceeding with either X or Y. As they try to make this determination, their research stalls.
  2. A researcher has done X, Y, and Z (and more) as part of their research. When thinking about writing up their results, they wish to include all of X, Y, and Z (and more) in their paper submission. It feels like a shame to have done so much work and then not include that work in the paper submission.
In a balanced iceberg (most below the surface of the water), the paper clearly and accurately distills the research. In an unbalanced iceberg (most above the surface of the water), every aspect of the research is crammed into a paper submission. In the balanced case, reviewers have a clear understanding of the contributions.
The Research Iceberg Analogy and the Art of Research Paper Writing.



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Tadayoshi Kohno (Yoshi Kohno)

Tadayoshi Kohno (Yoshi Kohno)

Tadayoshi (Yoshi) Kohno is a professor in the UW Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. His homepage: