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Course Web Pages - Fall 2012 - LIBR 202-13 Greensheet - Assignments

LIBR 202
Information Retrieval
Term Paper

Dr. Geoffrey Z. Liu

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The term paper will be a major task for you in this class. It is a scholarly piece on a chosen topic with sufficient support of published research literature. It is basically a literature research (overview) on development of information retrieval technologies in general, or an IR technique in particular. It may also focus on the human/social aspects of information seeking, information storage and retrieval, and information use.

A literature research (literature review) paper is neither an annotated bibliography nor a stitching-together of paper summaries. It is an integrated writing based on published literature to review/survey the current state, history, progress, issues, and problems in a chosen field, on a chosen focus, with in-depth analysis and observation.


Although completing the term paper is a responsibility of yours, necessary guidance will be offered to coach you through the process and to help you proceed in a structured and well paced fashion. While following the steps is not mandatory, you are encouraged to take advantage of the service.

Check Point





3th Week

Choice of topic/system

Topic statement


4th Week

Preliminary reading

One page summary of understanding


5th Week

Initial literature search

Bibliography/List of sources


6th Week

Content layout

Brief paper outline


8th Week

Extensive reading/investigation

Extensive outline with leading paragraphs and topic sentences


10th Week


Initial draft


12th Week and after

Revising, proof reading, and editing

Final version ready to submit

You may email me any time if you get any questions or just want to talk out some ideas and see how they sound like. I promise to give you feedback on your idea, but you will not expect me to come up with a topic for you to write the paper.

For checkpoints 1-4, you are welcome to send me your intermediate products. I will review them and offer comments, to make sure that you have chosen a feasible topic and that you are heading to the right direction. However, I will not read your initial draft, nor do the proof reading and/or editing for you.

Choice of Topic

Your choice of paper topic has to be approved.

The topic you choose can be either about a specific IR technique (technology) or about a general/theoretical issue in information science, and it has to be really interesting to you. (I cannot imagine how you can write a good paper on something in which you are not really interested.)

The topic doesn't have to be perfect, and it can be just a general area/direction of your interest. It can be a rough initial idea, and I will be more than happy to help you craft it into a meaningful paper topic. Your initial idea serves as a kickoff point to get some journal articles and start reading. As you read more and more, you will get a feel of what kinds of issues people are investigating out there. Consequently, your topic becomes more concrete, more specific, and better defined.

Below is a list of some topics you may consider or use as an example. Please note that these topics are designed to point to some general directions and often need some thinking to be refined. In your paper, you may choose to focus on one single issue or one single aspect of significance.

Technical Topics

General Topics

Unacceptable Choices

Although you have the option to propose your own topic or to focus on a particular aspect of a bigger problem, your topic should be closely related to the content of this course. Topics centered on some issues too common or not closely related to course content are definitely not acceptable. For example, these topics shall be avoided:

Content Requirements

The paper is essentially a literature review based on existing scholarly publications. It is an understanding, overview, and observation of one research field as reflected in current research literature. Sufficient references (reading no fewer than ten) should be included to support your arguments. Web resources are limited to e-journal articles, self-posted conference papers, technical reports, theses, dissertations, and book chapters.

The paper should include the following essential component, though section headings do not have to be exactly the same as given here.

Editorial Issues

In addition to common criteria of good writing (such as formatting, grammar, and spelling), your paper needs to comply with the following specific requirements.

Grading Criteria

Your paper will be rigorously evaluated and graded. To give you an idea of what kind of work constitutes a good (Grade "A") paper, an outstanding student paper from past semester is provided here in PDF format for your reference.

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