Application paper
The purpose of the application paper is to give you an opportunity to apply the concepts of psychology to your everyday life. The application paper requires you to integrate a theory from the information we’ve studied with an event or events from your personal experience. In other words, you are to use a theory to analyze and to explain something that has taken place in your life. This is not a theoretical review paper nor is it a simple report of a personal experience. An in-depth review of the theoretical material that you are going to discuss is not necessary. This is simply repeating what I can find in our text or in class notes. It would be unnecessary work for you to use space to provide an in-depth review of material already available. Instead, your task becomes one of using this knowledge to consider viable explanations for your and/or others’ behavior. You want to use your example as an illustration of the theory you’ve chosen, with your goal being to convince me that you actually do understand what the theory and concepts are all about.

*Technical presentation covers :

* Paper Title
* The Abstract
* The Introduction
* Related Work
* The Body
* Performance Experiments
* The Conclusions
* Future Work
* The Acknowledgements
* Citations
* Appendices
* Grammar and Small-Scale Presentation Issues
* Mechanics
* Versions and Distribution

Tips for Writing Technical Papers
Jennifer Widom, January 2006

·        Here are the notes from a presentation I gave at the Stanford InfoLab Friday lunch, 1/27/06, with a few (not many) revisions when I reprised the talk on 12/4/09. The presentation covered:Paper Title
·        The Abstract
·        The Introduction
·        Related Work
·        The Body
·        Performance Experiments
·        The Conclusions
·        Future Work
·        The Acknowledgements
·        Citations
·        Appendices
·        Grammar and Small-Scale Presentation Issues
·        Mechanics
·        Versions and Distribution

Running Example
As a running (fictitious!) example, suppose you’ve designed and run experiments with a new algorithm for external multipass merge-sort. Your algorithm reduces the complexity from O(n log n) to O(n), under the premise that it’s acceptable to have some bounded “unsortedness” in the result. You plan to write up the results for submission to a major conference.
Note: This example was used throughout the live presentation but I haven’t followed through much in these notes. Thus, the notes include several exercises for the reader.
Paper Title
·        Titles can be long and descriptive:Linear-Time External Multipass Sorting with Approximation Guarantees
or short and sweet:
·        Approximate External Sort
Here’s a middle-of-the-road length, plus a cute name that sticks in people’s minds:
·        Floosh: A Linear-Time Algorithm for Approximate External Sort
The Abstract
State the problem, your approach and solution, and the main contributions of the paper. Include little if any background and motivation. Be factual but comprehensive. The material in the abstract should not be repeated later word for word in the paper.
(Exercise: Write an abstract for the multiway sort example.)

The Introduction
The Introduction is crucially important. By the time a referee has finished the Introduction, he’s probably made an initial decision about whether to accept or reject the paper — he’ll read the rest of the paper looking for evidence to support his decision. A casual reader will continue on if the Introduction captivated him, and will set the paper aside otherwise. Again, the Introduction is crucially important.Here is the Stanford InfoLab‘s patented five-point structure for Introductions. Unless there’s a good argument against it, the Introduction should consist of five paragraphs answering the following five questions:
1       What is the problem?
2       Why is it interesting and important?
3       Why is it hard? (E.g., why do naive approaches fail?)
4       Why hasn’t it been solved before? (Or, what’s wrong with previous proposed solutions? How does mine differ?)
5       What are the key components of my approach and results? Also include any specific limitations.
(Exercise: Answer these questions for the multiway sort example.)
Then have a final paragraph or subsection: “Summary of Contributions”. It should list the major contributions in bullet form, mentioning in which sections they can be found. This material doubles as an outline of the rest of the paper, saving space and eliminating redundancy.
(Exercise: Write the bullet list for the multiway sort example.)
Related Work
·        The perennial question: Should related work be covered near the beginning of the paper or near the end?Beginning, if it can be short yet detailed enough, or if it’s critical to take a strong defensive stance about previous work right away. In this case Related Work can be either a subsection at the end of the Introduction, or its own Section 2.
·        End, if it can be summarized quickly early on (in the Introduction or Preliminaries), or if sufficient comparisons require the technical content of the paper. In this case Related Work should appear just before the Conclusions, possibly in a more general section “Discussion and Related Work”.
The Body
Guideline #1: A clear new important technical contribution should have been articulated by the time the reader finishes page 3 (i.e., a quarter of the way through the paper).
Guideline #2: Every section of the paper should tell a story. (Don’t, however, fall into the common trap of telling the entire story of how you arrived at your results. Just tell the story of the results themselves.) The story should be linear, keeping the reader engaged at every step and looking forward to the next step. There should be no significant interruptions — those can go in the Appendix; see below.
Aside from these guidelines, which apply to every paper, the structure of the body varies a lot depending on content. Important components are:
·        Running Example: When possible, use a running example throughout the paper. It can be introduced either as a subsection at the end of the Introduction, or its own Section 2 or 3 (depending on Related Work).
·        Preliminaries: This section, which follows the Introduction and possibly Related Work and/or Running Example, sets up notation and terminology that is not part of the technical contribution. One important function of this section is to delineate material that’s not original but is needed for the paper. Be concise — remember the critical rule of thumb.
·        Content: The meat of the paper includes algorithms, system descriptions, new language constructs, analyses, etc. Whenever possible use a “top-down” description: readers should be able to see where the material is going, and they should be able to skip ahead and still get the idea.
Performance Experiments
We could have an entire treatise on this topic alone and I am surely not the expert. Here are some random thoughts:
·        Many conferences expect experiments.
·        It’s easy to do “hokey” or meaningless experiments, and many papers do.
·        It’s easy to craft experiments to show your work in its best light, and most papers do.
·        What should performance experiments measure? Possiblities:
o   Pure running time
o   Sensitivity to important parameters
o   Scalability in various aspects: data size, problem complexity, …
o   Others?
·        What should performance experiments show? Possibilities:
o   Absolute performance (i.e., it’s acceptable/usable)
o   Relative performance to naive approaches
o   Relative performance to previous approaches
o   Relative performance among different proposed approaches
o   Others?
The Conclusions
In general a short summarizing paragraph will do, and under no circumstances should the paragraph simply repeat material from the Abstract or Introduction. In some cases it’s possible to now make the original claims more concrete, e.g., by referring to quantitative performance results.
Future Work
This material is important — part of the value of a paper is showing how the work sets new research directions. I like bullet lists here. (Actually I like them in general.) A couple of things to keep in mind:
·        If you’re actively engaged in follow-up work, say so. E.g.: “We are currently extending the algorithm to… blah blah, and preliminary results are encouraging.” This statement serves to mark your territory.
·        Conversely, be aware that some researchers look to Future Work sections for research topics. My opinion is that there’s nothing wrong with that — consider it a complement.
The Acknowledgements
Don’t forget them or you’ll have people with hurt feelings. Acknowledge anyone who contributed in any way: through discussions, feedback on drafts, implementation, etc. If in doubt about whether to include someone, include them.
Spend the effort to make all citations complete and consistent. Do not just copy random inconsistent BibTex (or other) entries from the web and call it a day. Check over your final bibliography carefully and make sure every entry looks right.
Appendices should contain detailed proofs and algorithms only. Appendices can be crucial for overlength papers, but are still useful otherwise. Think of appendices as random-access substantiation of underlying gory details. As a rule of thumb:
·        Appendices should not contain any material necessary for understanding the contributions of the paper.
·        Appendices should contain all material that most readers would not be interested in.
Grammar and Small-Scale Presentation Issues
·        In general everyone writing papers is strongly encouraged to read the short and very useful The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Here’s a random list of pet peeves.
·        Just like a program, all “variables” (terminology and notation) in the paper should be defined before being used, and should be defined only once. (Exception: Sometimes after a long hiatus it’s useful to remind the reader of a definition.) Global definitions should be grouped into the Preliminaries section; other definitions should be given just before their first use.
·        Do not use “etc.” unless the remaining items are completely obvious.
o   Acceptable: We shall number the phases 1, 3, 5, 7, etc.
o   Unacceptable: We measure performance factors such as volatility, scalability, etc.
·        Never say “for various reasons”. (Example: We decided not to consider the alternative, for various reasons.) Tell the reader the reasons!
Avoid nonreferential use of “this”, “that”, “these”, “it”, and so on (Ullman pet peeve). Requiring explicit identification of what “this” refers to enforces clarity of writing. Here is a typical example of nonreferential “this”: Our experiments test several different environments and the algorithm does well in some but not all of them. This is important because …
(Exercise: The above rule is violated at least once in this document. Find the violations.)
·        Italics are for definitions or quotes, not for emphasis (Gries pet peeve). Your writing should be constructed such that context alone provides sufficient emphasis.
(Exercise: The above rule is violated at least once in this document. Find the violations.)
·        People frequently use “which” versus “that” incorrectly. “That” is defining; “which” is nondefining. Examples of correct use:
o   The algorithms that are easy to implement all run in linear time.
o   The algorithms, which are easy to implement, all run in linear time.
·        Always run a spelling checker on your final paper, no excuses.
·        For drafts and technical reports use 11 point font, generous spacing, 1″ margins, and single-column format. There’s no need to torture your casual readers with the tiny fonts and tight spacing used in conference proceedings these days.
·        In drafts and final camera-ready, fonts in figures should be no smaller than the font size in the body of the paper.
·        Tables, figures, graphs, and algorithms should always be placed on the top of a page or column, not in the body of the text unless it is very small and fits into the flow of the paper.
·        Every table, figure, graph, or algorithm should appear on the same page as its first reference, or on the following page (LaTex willing…).
·        Before final submission or publication of your paper, print it once and take a look — you might be quite surprised how different it looks on paper from how it looked on your screen (if you even bothered to look at it after you ran Latex the last time…).
Versions and Distribution
·        Many papers have a submitted (and later published) conference version, along with a “full paper” technical report on the web. It’s important to manage versions carefully, both in content and proliferation. My recommendation is, whenever possible, for the full paper to consist of simply the conference version plus appendices. The full paper should be the only public one aside from conference proceedings, it should be coordinated with latest (final) conference version, and modifications to the full paper should always overwrite all publicly accessible previous versions of it.
·        I believe in putting papers on the web the minute they’re finished. They should be dated and can be referenced as technical reports — it’s not necessary to have an actual technical report number. Never, ever put up a paper with a conference copyright notice when it’s only been submitted, and never, ever reference a paper as “submitted to conference X.” You’re only asking for embarrassment when the paper is finally published in conference Y a year or two later.

Research Application Paper
High Risk Pregnant Women’s Perceptions Of Bed Rest
Student Name
Elmhurst College


                                                                                                                                                                  Bed Rest       2                                                                                                                                          


  Research Application Paper:
High Risk Pregnant Women’s Perceptions Of Bed Rest
During a high-risk pregnancy, bed rest is a common intervention used to prolong the pregnancy. Although bed rest reduces the physiological stress of a high-risk pregnancy, it can cause other stresses which interfere with compliance. One of the clients this nursing student cared for during her family reproductive health clinical experience had been on bed rest for two weeks. In order to facilitate and promote her compliance with the needed bed rest, the student applied the nursing interventions suggested by the authors of a research study that investigated the perceptions of women who were on bed rest because of a high risk pregnancy. The student’s primary rationale for selecting this research study as a resource in planning client care was that the nursing implications were based on pregnant women’s perceptions of the stresses associated with bed rest. The student reasoned that interventions based on clients’ perceptions of the problem would be effective in promoting compliance.
The student identifies the client care problem and the specific rationale for applying the interventions based on the results of this research study. She uses APA style by writing the paper in third person.
The setting for the White, Collins, and Long (1997) study included an antepartum high risk unit in a Level III hospital in midwestern Canada and a home health care agency caring for high risk mothers. The student applied the suggested nursing interventions on an antepartum care unit at a Level III hospital in a midwestern metropolitan area in the United States. Therefore, the two settings were very similar.
The student very succinctly compares the two settings.
The sample subjects in the selected research study included 24 married white women aged 26 – 36 with educational levels ranging from high school diplomas to graduate degrees. The subjects were experiencing high-risk pregnancies with 20% experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension and 51% experiencing preterm labor. Sixty percent of the subjects were multiple gravida and 11% of those subjects had been on activity restrictions during their previous pregnancies. Criteria for subject selection included bed rest for at least one week and a minimum gestation age of 26 weeks. The average length of bed rest was 20 days and the average gestational age was 32.5 weeks. All but two of the subjects were on modified bed rest and were allowed bathroom privileges or short periods of standing. None of the subjects were taking tocolytic drugs.
The student’s client was a 38-year-old married white woman with a graduate degree. She was a gravida four, para 012. She had a molar pregnancy with a dilatation and curettage in 1995; severe preeclampsia in 1996 resulting in a 28 week preterm baby born by a classic C-section; and miscarried twins in 1996. None of the previous pregnancies had included activity restrictions. During the 34th week of her fourth pregnancy, she was admitted to the hospital with preeclampsia and placed on bed rest with bathroom privileges. The client had been on bed rest for two weeks when cared for by the student. The client was not taking tocolytic drugs. It was anticipated that if the ultrasound at the end of the third week of bed rest indicated the fetus’s lungs were mature, the baby would be delivered by C-section at 37 weeks. This client was very similar to the subjects in the selected research study.
The student describes the demographic characteristics, pregnancy history / high-risk status, and selection criteria for the study subjects. Then in a parallel way, she describes her client’s demographic characteristics, pregnancy history and present high-risk status. It is very clear to the reader that the study’s subjects and student’s client are similar.
Application of Study Recommendations
Based on the results of their research study, the investigators suggested several nursing interventions to decrease the situational, environmental, and family stresses associated with bed rest during a high-risk pregnancy. Situational stress includes the perception of loss of control when an individual is placed in the “sick role”. The investigators recommend that nurses decrease this perception by allowing the client to participate in her own self care and to wear her own street clothes instead of gowns. Environmental stress includes the perception of boredom from not actively participating in one’s normal routine. The investigators recommend that nurses assess the client’s interests and provide learning materials, videos, and selected exercises to decrease boredom. Finally, family stress includes role reversal and not being able to spend time with one’s children and spouse. The investigators recommend that the stress of a wife / mom being hospitalized can be decreased by encouraging frequent family visits and including family members in the client’s care.
The investigators provided sufficient information for the student to apply their recommended nursing interventions. The student’s client had already addressed some of the situational stress related to the “sick role” by wearing her own street clothes. The student further facilitated the client to decrease the situational stress of “loss of control” by teaching her to assist in monitoring the fetus’s status. The client was encouraged to read the fetal monitor strips with the student and record each time the baby kicked. The client was managing part of her environmental stress by arranging with her employer to complete some of her paperwork at the hospital. She did state that that the most difficult part of the bed rest for her was “not going anywhere and not doing something to stimulate my mind.” Therefore, the student suggested that she read a fictional action book or travelogue that would engage her mind and simulate “going somewhere”. The client experienced minimal family stress because her mother, daughter, and husband visited very frequently and she knew her daughter was well cared for by her husband and mother. Therefore, either through self initiated actions or student suggested activities, the client was able to decrease the situational, environmental, and family stresses associated with bed rest and to comply with the protocol. The client’s compliance was greatly influenced by her positive attitude and self-directed initiatives. The study subjects were initially much more anxious and compliance with bed rest more of a challenge for nurses than was the case with the student’s client.
The student is very specific in her responses to each question regarding how she applied the nursing interventions based on the results of the identified study. She provides sufficient information from the study so that the reader could link the results of the study with the recommended interventions.
As previously noted, the student selected this study’s suggested interventions to apply because they were based on the high risk pregnant women’s perceptions of the stresses related to bed rest. Because the study setting and sample were very similar to the student’s setting and client, implementing the interventions was appropriate. However, the small, homogeneous sample decreases the reliability and validity of these subjects’ perceptions being generalized to a larger population. Therefore, the student does not recommend that the specific interventions suggested by the investigators be implemented in all antepartum care units with all high-risk clients. However, the student does recommend that nurses caring for high risk clients on bed rest assess the situational, environmental, and family related stresses that might be interfering with bed rest compliance and individualize the plan of care based on each client’s perceptions. Moreover, the student recommends that the study be replicated with a larger, diverse random sample so that some generalizable approaches to facilitating bed rest can be documented. In addition, the student recommends that further research be done to describe the perceptions of bed rest of high-risk pregnant women maintained in the home setting versus those maintained in the hospital setting. Although the identified study did include subjects maintained on bed rest at home, the investigators did not compare the perceptions of those at home with those in the hospital. Although home care may be more cost effective, it is important to document how women perceive bed rest maintained in the home setting and how those perceptions impact compliance with the protocol.
The student demonstrates a good understanding of how to determine what study implications are appropriate to apply. Her suggested research is specific and extends the knowledge gained from the identified study.  

Bed Rest        3

White, L., Collins, V., & Long, M. (1997). High risk pregnant women’s
perceptions of bed rest. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 24(3),
234 – 240.
NRS 317/318 Research Application Homepage