Scholarship Skills Winter 2017

PSU CS 669 (PhD students)

Course Description and Grading
Course Schedule
Useful Links
Rubric for projects 2 and 4
Rubric for projects 5 and 7
Schedule of 5-minute talks
Rubric for talks
Schedule of 15-minute talks
Rubric for talks

Course Overview: The purpose of this course is to make you better scholars. In particular it attempts to make you better researchers, better writers, better presenters, and better reviewers. It concentrates on your reading, writing and composition skills. The course concentrates on both the production and consumption of the “media” used by computer scientists to communicate today. 

You will learn to both read and write papers, such as conference and journal articles; You will learn to both listen to and prepare and deliver oral presentations.  You will also learn skills that will prepare you for your career as a scholar: how to choose a thesis topic, and how to write a thesis; how to be an effective reviewer of material written by others; how to prepare yourself for the job hunt in academia or industry when you graduate. When you’re through with this course you should have a feel for the tasks and activities of modern scholars.

PSU CRN: 41056

Class meets: Winter Quarter 2016. 
         Tuesday & Thursday 10:00-11:50, FAB 150  (Total 3 hours per week).


  • Andrew Black, office: FAB 115-10, ’phone 503-725-2411
    Office hours: Tuesday 13:00–14:00, or by appointment. It's also fine to just wander by my office and see if I'm free.  To set up an appointment at an alternative time, please use the telephone.


This term we will be using Piazza for class discussion. The system is highly catered to getting you help fast and efficiently from classmates, the TA, and myself. Rather than emailing questions to the teaching staff, I encourage you to post your questions on Piazza. If you have any problems or feedback for the developers, email

Find our class page at:

  PSU CS Department Comprehensive Exam
  PSU Writing Center

Required Text:

  Lyn Dupré. Bugs in Writing.  Addison Wesley, ISGM 0-201-60019-6. (Some online notes are at )

Cover of Dupré Book

Ancillary Texts

  Lynne Truss.  Eats, Shoots & Leaves.  Gotham, 2004.  ISBN 1592400876.

  Mark Zobel.  Writing for Computer ScienceSpringer 1997.  ISBN 9-813-08322-0.

  Henry Watson Fowler.  The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, R.W. Burchfield
  (Editor), Oxford, 2000.

  William Zinsser.  On Writing Well Harpercollins, 1994.

  David A. McMurrey and Joanne Buckley. A Writer's Handbook for Engineers.
  Thompson, 2008.

  Mary-Clair van Leunen, A Handbook for Scholars, 2nd Ed,  Oxford University Press, 
  1992.  Some online notes are at

  Donald E. Knuth, Tracy Larrabee, and Paul M. Robers, Mathematical Writing.
  MAA Notes Number 14, The Mathematical Association of America, 1989.

  William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White.  The Elements of Style. Allyn and Bacon, 1995. 
  (You can find versions of this text on the web.)

  Nichoals Higham, Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences, SIAM, 1993.

  Robert I. Berkman. Find It Fast. Harper Perennial, 1997. 

  Elizabeth Castro. HTML for the World Wide Web, 4th Ed.: Visual Quickstart Guide,
   Peachpit Press, 2000.

  Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly, The Elements of Technical Writing, Macmillan, 1993.

  Edward Tufte. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, 1983.


Other Resources:

Merriam-Webster Style Guide on Commas
Barry Tarshis on Commas