Paper Presentations

Instructions for presenters

Graduate students should read and follow the paper presentation guidelines. Graduate students’ research paper presentation is worth 15% of their course grade.

Instructions for the rest of the class

Read the required papers for the day. Well before class, see the Assignments section on T-Square to read further instructions, provide your commentary and on one paper and formulate a discussion point or question for that paper. Guidelines for writing these commentaries and discussion questions is also included below. You are expected to submit these for all student presentation classes for which you are not presenting the paper.

Graduate students’ commentaries/discussion questions are cumulatively worth 25% of their course grade, undergraduate students’ commentaries/discussion questions are cumulatively worth 15% of their course grade.

Presenters: Presentation and Discussion Guidelines

Beginning in September, graduate students will give short paper presentations in pairs. Each paper will focus on a specific topic in Health Informatics. Papers to choose from can be found at (papers listed with a preceding ‘*’ are candidates for student presentations). Sign up for papers here.

Each student pair will present one of the assigned papers and lead the class, along with the teaching staff, in a discussion corresponding to that paper. Remember that often, multiple papers will be assigned for a single class. You do not need to present all papers assigned for the day, but you should read and be able to discuss the other assigned papers to compare and contrast them with the paper you are presenting. Other students, and/or the teaching staff, will be sharing class time with you. Thus, you should plan for about 30 minutes of presentation and discussion.

It is up to the presenting students to plan how they will present the reading. Meet with the professor at the end of the previous class to discuss your plan. On the day of your presentation, one student in the pair should submit your materials (slides, notes etc.) through T-Square before class. After you submit the first version, you have until 11:59PM on the same day to update these materials.

Most importantly, prepare by defining a very clear learning goal for the class. What will students understand at the end of class that they might not have at the beginning? Choose 3-4 key ideas from the readings that you would like the students to understand deeply, and structure your presentation strategy around these. Whenever possible, tie discussion topics to material that we have covered in class. Your presentation and discussion should accomplish the following:

Briefly summarize the paper for the class, noting that some classmates will not have read the paper as closely as others. Try to keep the total time to summarize your paper under 15 minutes.

Then, you should discuss your reflections on the reading. Compare and contrast the ideas, approaches, and findings in the paper with the other papers assigned that day and on previous days. Include in this discussion your critiques of the paper.

Come in with a clear set of goals for what you would like to convey. Cover both high- and low-level parts of the readings. What does this research mean? High-level concepts are important–they help us frame the contributions of the work and give us some motivation for the research topic. Move from high-level to low-level in a clear and understandable way. Was the right research question asked? How was this research accomplished? What technical concepts and methodological strategies were employed? If it’s a technical paper, the discussion should help students deeply understand the key technical ideas. If the paper describes a study, dive into the key details of how the study was performed.

Classmates will raise discussion questions. After presenting your summary and reflections, engage the audience in discussion.

Use slides carefully. Focus on first summarizing the work, then verbally communicating ideas and keeping the discussion active. That said, short videos and demos should be shown when possible and slides presenting designs, study details, data, and/or results can be useful. Use as many as slides as necessary to illustrate your talking points, but do not rely on them alone to convey information.

Arrive early to class on the day of your presentation. Finally, consult the grading guidelines for details on how the discussion you lead will be assessed.

Some of the guidelines listed here were adopted with permission from Michael Bernstein.

Rest of the Class: Guidelines for formulating commentaries and discussion questions

(Note: You will see the same instructions on T-Square as you see here.)

  1. Follow the schedule and prepare to read/view the assigned¬†materials ahead of class. Note whether you need to submit a commentary for one of the papers (indicated with a “*”).
  2. To submit your commentary, see T-Square Assignments and find the assignment corresponding to paper commentaries and discussion questions for the upcoming class. Use the text box provided in the Assignment user interface to submit your commentary.
  3. Think critically about the research that the paper presents and why that research is important.
  4. In the text box on T-Square, write a short commentary about the paper (1-2 paragraphs) (see possible topics to address below)
  5. Based on your commentary, choose one discussion point or one question for the presenter that you are willing to raise in class. If stating a question, it should not be a “quiz” type question, but instead should elicit discussion among the presenter and with the class.
  6. State your discussion point or question explicitly in bulletpoint form, after your commentary.
  7. Come to class prepared to raise your discussion point or question.

Some appropriate topics to address in a commentary include:

  • Why the paper does or doesn’t seem important
  • Observations of novel methodology or methodology and whether or not you think it is appropriate
  • Things in the paper that you disagree with or believe not to be true
  • Why the paper is/isn’t effective at getting its message across
  • Whether and how the paper has changed your opinion or outlook on a topic

Of course, feel free to discuss anything you think is important (do not just summarize the paper–the presenters will do that)!

One way to structure your commentary is to discuss three “positive” aspects and one “criticism” for each paper (or three “I likes and one “I wish”). To guide the length, each paragraph should be approx. 4-5 sentences in length.