Saturday, February 21, 2009

Judging at a paper presentation contest

Recently, I was invited as a judge at paper presentation contest (ADSOPHOS) by CSE department, MJCET. It was my first experience as an external judge and a good one too. I wanted to share with you some of the experiences I had in terms of judging the papers and presentations of the students.

The following were the four metrics that I was considering while judging the papers.

1. Student’s contribution to the paper

2. Technical knowledge in that field

3. Presentation flow

4. Student’s Attitude

While, I know one can come up with many more criterions, at that moment I could only think of these four.

Student’s Contribution to the paper:

The essence behind writing a paper is to present a new idea before the world. Somehow, because of our inability to produce many new ideas from last two thousand years, we don’t actually stress about it to the students. I know it’s unfortunate that we haven’t contributed much to the science from many centuries but now it’s the time. We constitute more than one-sixth of the world population and it’s our moral responsibility to constitute at least one-sixth of the ideas that develop the world. Without a debate, let’s acknowledge the fact that we have done enough to be proud and let’s change that in future. People come and go, but ideas remain forever. If you ask me, how can you expect a student to write about a new idea? Believe me, you can think of new ideas. It’s just that none of our ancestors have produced new ideas, so we don’t have that confidence. Sometimes, the time demand a change… the change is that you need to produce ideas.

To cut short the long story, yes, you need to contribute to the paper. Student’s contribution to the paper is the top priority in judging the best paper.

Technical Knowledge in that field

While ideas can be great, they need to be presented in a way they can be appreciated and implemented. For example, “going to moon” is an idea but “how to go there” needs knowledge in astronomy, aerodynamics, extra-terrestrial communication, material science, etc. So, when you write about an idea, you need to have knowledge in that field. Make sure that you read text-books and reference papers in that field as much as possible. While, presenting a paper, your knowledge in the field will help you in guiding your presentation in such a way that everyone understands it. You would also be able to defend your idea well.

Presentation flow:

The smooth flow of presentation is essential for people to understand your idea/paper. You should start with the objective of your paper, more towards a introduction, speak about your new idea and what you can achieve with that idea. There are many other ways, but you need to decide which flow suits your paper. You present a paper for 15 minutes and eventually if no one understands it, then what’s the use? If you are under an impression that if people don’t understand your paper, then you are great. I strongly suggest you to come out of that misconception.

Student’s Attitude:

Your attitude while presenting the paper really matters. While some students present it very aggressively and so do it very calmly. But make sure that you retain to one state. Being aggressive sometimes and being calm at time won’t help. Another aspect of your attitude is how you respond back to the queries. When someone shows a flaw or asks something that you are not aware of, then speak up about it that “you don’t know” or say “you will get back to him/her after little more research”. Don’t brag about your idea while presenting the paper. It appears really stupid. You are presenting Science not politics!

The following are certain observations I had while judging the student papers.


1. Unfortunately, the faculty members at colleges are not guiding students properly in preparing the papers. Students are not aware of abstract, references and basic formatting aspects of papers. A paper is not a greeting card where you do decorations, it’s a technical document. It needs to be formal.

2. Attitude of 90% of the students is not up to the mark. While, I don’t expect exceptional discoveries in every paper but it is expected that every paper is written by the student in his/her own words. Do not simply copy word-to-word from internet. You need to re-write it in your own words and acknowledge the original researcher in your paper.

3. Read text-books. While internet is useful, it’s yet to replace the text-books. I was sad at student’s papers with titles “Embedded systems” or “Nanotechnology”. These student’s needs to be educated that embedded systems or Nanotechnology was so large fields and paper title should be specific. And what was worse is that, these papers tend to be basic overview of embedded systems or nanotechnology, which is nothing but the first chapter of any standard textbooks in this particular field. That’s why I say, read the text-books first.

4. Too many claims without explanation. This is one of the worst things I have noticed among students. They tend to claim so many things outside context that they are not aware of. Whenever they present an idea, they tend to brag about it so much that it doesn’t appear scientific anymore. Do not brag about ideas. Use technical data to define terms like large, small, tiny, etc.

5. Do not use photographs taken by foreigners. There was a paper on “Stenography” by some student and she extensively used photographs of American monuments demonstrate how secret information can be hidden within images. I don’t understand why students don’t apply some creativity. One can very well use images of India Gate or Taj Hotel to demonstrate the same. These are the small things that can really create an impact before judges.

6. Try to rehearse your presentation few times before your friends. Take their feedback. I have seen students presenting without any smooth flow. A smooth flow is essential while presenting a paper. This will enable audience including judges understand what you are presenting.

7. Highlight what you have done and what’s your objective. This is something in all the papers I have seen by the students. They keep speaking about the stuff done by someone else as if they have done and never speak about the stuff what they done. Even merely saying, I have reviewed following papers or I am presenting the ideas mentioned in these papers. And stating objectives such as, the objective of the papers is to make students aware of interesting developments in so and so fields. That sends out a strong statement about your honesty and attitude.

January 22 6:30 PM


1 comment:

prakash said...

thanks sir......
i appreciate your work...its really
useful for all those who are preparing for it...
sir i am a beginner in paper pre.
and i want some more suggetion from you...
my id is
your any suggestion will be useful for me...