Coursework for Computer Science 685: The Structure of Information Networks
Fall 2002

Reaction Papers

The course is primarily based on material from the past 3-5 years; this means that most of it exists in the form of papers on the Web, and the existing literature raises a lot of interesting issues that have yet to be explored.

As a way to get everyone thinking about what's out there, there will be assigned reaction papers roughly every 1-2 weeks. The reaction paper assignments will be structured as follows: you should read at least two closely related papers relevant to the current section of the course, at least one of which is not linked from the course home page. You should then write approximately 3 pages in which you address the following points:

Reaction papers should not just be summaries of the papers you read; most of your text should be focused on synthesis of the underlying ideas, and your own perspective on the papers. Reaction papers should be done individually (i.e. not in groups).

Problem Sets

A few of the reaction paper assignments may be replaced with more traditional problem sets, depending on the nature of the material we're covering.


The final piece of the work for the course will be a project. You can work on this in groups of up to three people, and it is largely up to you to define the topic and scope of the project. The reaction papers are one of the best ways to start thinking about possible project topics; and the first step in the project will be a short `proposal,' which gives me a chance to offer early feedback. The basic genres of project are the following: The result of the project will typically be a 10-15 page paper, describing the approach, the results, and the related work. The references on the course home page serve as examples of what such papers tend to look like; of course, the overall form of the paper will depend on the nature of the project.


The course grade will be based 50% on reaction papers and problem sets, and 50% on the project.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

You are expected to maintain the utmost level of academic integrity in the course. Any violation of the code of academic integrity will be penalized severely, and can lead to failing the course.

Plagiarism deserves special mention here. Including text from other sources in a reaction paper or project write-up without quoting it and providing a proper citation constitutes plagiarism, and it is a serious form of academic misconduct. This includes cases in which no full sentence has been copied from the original source, but large amounts of text have been closely paraphrased without proper attribution. To get a better sense for what is allowed, it is highly recommended that you consult pages 16-22 of the Academic Integrity document at This is a very serious issue; instances of plagiarism will very likely result in failing the course.