Behind a well-written paper

Behind a well-written paper

The importance of writing cannot be emphasized enough. Technical papers usually deliver highly specialized and professional information which is difficult to understand. Academic publication system including authors, reviewers, and committees pours a lot of effort on writing and revision to make the papers comfortable to read. Easy-reading papers save time for understanding and criticizing research works, and eventually contribute to spreading knowledge.

I spent some time on analyzing a well-written paper, Decimeter-Level Localization with a Single WiFi Access Point by Dina Katabi et. al., and found some points that make the paper more readable. This paper makes readers feel friendly with the proposed system, concentrate on the goal of the system, and be prepared before they learn complicated concepts.

Deriving friendly feeling: This paper borrows well-known concepts to describe novel idea in high level. For instance, in Section 1, complicated time-of-flight measurement is described in one sentence, “Chronos works by making a WiFi card emulate a very wideband radio.” This sentence summarizes entire Section 3 without any unfamiliar words by using the concepts of emulation and wideband radio.

Making readers stay tuned: In this paper, every paragraph have a clear role for a section and it is hard to find unnecessary sentences for each paragraph. Readers can clearly see the flow of paper and the goal of proposed system when they read a lean and sharp paper.

Preparing readers for details: This paper describes things from abstract concept to details in breadth-first order. In an article, How to Read a Paper, S. Keshav suggests reading a paper for three times, the first time for target problem and key idea, the second time for details, and the third time for understanding the paper fully. For many papers, readers need to read the papers in zigzag manner to get the high-level concept of proposed system. However, for this paper, the readers do not need to. Because high level concept comes at the start of the paper and is followed by details.

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