Discussion Leaders

You will create a reading assignment for one class meeting. Your goal is to fine 3-4 articles or book chapters that cover identical or closely related topics, but use different approaches (methods, theories, or scientific paradigms). Each paper should contain a fully articulated discussion of the methods used to obtain and analyze data. In some cases, “data’ may be in the form of ethnographic, historical or other scientific interpretation. Ideally, one of these papers should be a hybrid that uses multiple methods. 

We will illustrate this with an example in Week 4.

This is not a simple task. You will need to find a topic that is of interest to you and which has excellent research papers on the topic. It may be easiest to start with one paper and then seek complementary papers on the topic, rather than defining the topic first and then seeking papers. We expect you to consult with your advisor(s) and other ND faculty to seek out the best possible materials. The instructor may reject one or more of your suggestions and/or propose alternatives.

Criteria for including an article/chapter:

  • Addresses a topic that is significant for computer science and engineering studies
  • Authors are reputable, experienced researchers
  • Contains a well-articulated methods section that discusses how evidence was collected and how it was analyzed.
  • Reaches significant conclusions or findings
  • Need not be recent, but if it is older, it should still have relevant to current research.
  • Should be new-to-you papers, i.e., papers that you are not already familiar with.


  1. Find a session date. Sign up for that date with the Google Sheets link: here
  2. Determine a set of possible topics of interest and identify some really great papers for each topic.
  3. Discuss these topics with your advisor and consult with your advisor about excellent papers with good, well-explained methods components. You can also discuss with Prof. Weninger, other graduate students or other ND faculty who might be helpful. This is a great opportunity for first interactions with faculty you don’t know yet. CSE Faculty have been notified to expect this.
  4. Send papers to Prof Weninger 7 days before your scheduled presentation with a cover letter (2-3 pages total). This cover letter will be distributed to your classmates. It should briefly answer the following with quotes or in your own words (as indicated by the question)
    1. Find the statements in the paper that say what
      1. General topic they are studying
      2. The specific behavior or activity they are studying
      3. What the specific research questions are. Here you should find the specific formulation of the research question in the paper. This is a quote, not your own re-statement.
      4. What challenges do they face.
    2. The paradigm that the research question is being asked in.
    3. Identify:
      1. Problem:
      2. Importance:
      3. Claims:
      4. State of Knowledge:
      5. Evidence: Theoretical and/or Empirical
      6. Story Structure
  5. Prof Weninger may reject one or more of these papers or propose alternatives. We may also add a paper to your list.
    1. On your chosen class meeting date, you will do a short presentation to the class. Prof Weninger will demonstrate this format for example.

You will have one of these discussions in the semester. You will present for 15-20 minutes, right away at the beginning of class. The goals of the presentation are:

  • A high-level view of the methods and data sources in each paper
  • Compare/contrast: what does each method allow you to know? What kinds of questions can they not answer? The acknowledgement/response elements of each paper give some clues to this. 
  • Discussion questions for the class