The Journey from Researching to Presenting at an IEEE Conference

Photo created by jcomp — www.freepik.com

Presenting my review paper on various recommendation systems at an international conference was definitely one of the biggest achievements of my academic life. I had a good team that backed me up and helped me to write the paper, which I couldn’t have achieved without.

To give a little background information, the research we did was for deciding a recommendation system to be used for our 2nd year software development group project where we developed a mobile app for recommending recipes based on the available ingredients. In order to select a recommendation system for the app, we conducted a literature review of some of the more popular recommendation systems and the algorithms used for recommending recipes. By the end of this review, we had collected a considerable amount of knowledge about recommendation systems from which we were able to select a suitable one.

Instead of concluding the research after completing the assignment, we decided to dive in further conducting an in-depth literature review about recommendation systems which could help other researchers when selecting the algorithms to build the best possible recommendation system.

Applying for a conference

Engineering and Science conferences take place around the world throughout the year. We were able to identify an IEEE sponsored conference that was calling for papers, which was to be held in Bangalore, India in November 2020.

INOCON 2020 required the paper to be formatted according to the template given by IEEE. Once the paper was formated properly and after doing the final proofreads and rewrites, we submit the paper through the portal provided by INOCON 2020. The initial deadline for submitting papers was in June 2020 which was later extended till August 2020.

All the details related to the authors and the paper had to be given at the time of submission and the paper was submitted as a PDF document. The paper had to have no plagiarism and was to be selected to be presented orally after being reviewed by two referees assigned by the conference committee based on their expertise that match the context of the paper.

Selection, Re-Writes and Submitting the Camera-Ready Paper

After a review conducted by peers, we received the email confirming that our paper had been selected to be presented orally at the conference. The reviewers however had made several suggestions to make amendments to the literature review.

As the paper had already been accepted, another requirement to be fulfilled was to purchase a ticket for the member who was to present the paper at the conference (and any others who wish to present or participate).

While the information we had referred to when writing the review for the algorithms was clear enough to be selected, the suggestions required the review to be more informative and for more algorithms to be referred and reviewed. To fulfill this requirement, we had to make slight amendments to the structure in which each recommendation system was presented. The review of each algorithm contained an introduction to the given recommendation system algorithm, examples of past work and research conducted related to the given algorithms, the advantages and disadvantages of the algorithms, and a conclusion depicting how and where the algorithm can be used.

The completion of the re-writes meant that the final two most crucial steps of submitting a paper to an IEEE conference had to be done. The first was to transfer the copyright of the paper to IEEE. In this step, I was asked to fill in the details about the paper and a confirmation of the names of the authors. The copyright also requested permission for the oral presentation to be recorded, for which giving the permission was optional.

The second step was to process the camera-ready paper and submit it to IEEE. The processing of the camera-ready paper was done using IEEE PDF Xpress which required the paper to be uploaded in .docx format giving an output as a PDF formatted according to the standards of IEEE. Once completed, the camera-ready paper had to be submitted to INOCON 2020 through a Google form that they had provided. While making amendments to the paper since its acceptance was allowed depending on the review given by the peers, no changes could be made to the list of authors of the research. The amendments however had to be done without resulting in any plagiarism just as the initial submission.

Presenting at INOCON 2020

INOCON 2020 was to take place in Bangalore, India from 6th to 8th November 2020. While the best experience of attending a science and engineering conference is to present the paper to a live audience and to be able to interact and network with the attendees, the current spread of the COVID-19 pandemic limited many of the authors to do their presentations online.

While it was a great decision taken by the organizers in these troubled times where traveling from one country to another, it proved to be a great experience to present our paper online and to attend the lectures and keynote session organized by the INOCON committee. It was a great honor to be presenting our paper at INOCON 2020 as it was one of the 280 papers that were selected out of 963 entries where only 33% of the total applied papers had been selected.

We were given the option to request for presenting the paper online beforehand for arrangements to be made, and the schedule for the presentations was given well in advance after the authors had confirmed their method of participation. The presentations were to be conducted through Google Meets and 5 panels took place on the same day at the same time as separate sessions.

My presentation took place on the 6th of November and I was the sole presenter for our paper representing my team. The time given to present was 10 minutes with a Q&A session of 2 minutes. The presentation was to be prepared on a slide deck provided by the organizers.

The biggest question I had in preparation for the presentation was, “What am I supposed to include in the presentation?”. The slide deck was a template given for presenting a research paper which in our case was a bit different as it was a review paper. The topics that were supposed to be covered were to give an introduction to the research, naming the objectives, the methodology in which the research was conducted, the results and a discussion about the research and a conclusion.

The only topic we had to deviate from was the results and discussion as we had done the review purely based on past work conducted in the topic in discussion. We had done an experiment for just one of the algorithm types mentioned in the paper as it was the algorithm we deemed most appropriate for building the recipe recommendation system in the assignment.

As the presentation for the paper, I started off by mentioning the type of review that we conducted, in which case was a positive review of the work previously conducted by others. For the discussion section, I added a summary of the findings that we had written in the paper.

Finally, the conference day arrived. It was kicked off by launching the conference proceedings (which contained all the papers to be presented and was shared through dropbox later that day). As all events should have, a welcome message was given to the participants which were followed by a keynote and a lecture. No presentations took place during this time but my allocated time slot was after these sessions at 3 p.m. in the afternoon.

I was definitely nervous ahead of the presentation but I was able to present the paper and answer the questions asked appropriately making my first presentation at an international conference a successful one. Overall, it was a great experience to prepare for and to finally present the paper. I was able to manage my time perfectly for the recommended 10 minutes and the QnA lasted for around 1 1/2 minutes.

A keynote and several lectures were organized by the conference committee for each day, which I was able to attend and found to be quite informative and enlightening. The overall experience of the conference (although limited to being online) proved to be a great experience.

Publication

The proceedings of the conference were published on IEEE Xplore two months after the conclusion of the conference. The paper written by us can be found here on IEEE Xplore.

Acknowledgment

I would like to thank Mr. Guhanathan Poravi, for guiding us in the initial stages of conducting the research and for the guidance given after the acceptance of the paper and after the conference.

I would also like to that Mr. John Sriskandarajah for sharing his knowledge on conducting a literature review and writing a research paper for the research conducted for the project.

A special thanks goes to Mr. Banu Athauraliya for sharing his experience in writing and presenting a research paper at a conference and for all the advice and guidance given during the process of writing the paper and applying for the conference.

I would like to thank Informatics Institute of Technology for providing us with the relevant resources for conducting the research and for sponsoring the participation at INOCON 2020.

Last but not least I would like to thank my group members — Manul Hiyare Pallege, Shevon Perera, Shehan Jamal, Vishma Akash and Sihan Wijeweera, with who I share this achievement.

I hope the experience I’ve shared gave you an idea about the process which took place from writing the paper to presenting it at the conference and will be useful for your future work.