LIN389C Syllabus

LIN389C is a research course for students who work in computational linguistics. It is aimed at students with advanced knowledge in natural language processing and machine learning techniques who are doing research in the area. In the course, we discuss current research by course participants, review foundational knowledge that is relevant to participants' research, and talk about big-picture issues and current research in field.

General information about the course

  • LIN 389C Research in Computational Linguistics. Unique number: 39205
  • Fall 2020
  • Meeting: Friday 12-3.
    The course is online. Zoom meeting links will be in Canvas.

Course organizer: Katrin Erk

  • Office hours: Monday 1-2, Tuesday and Thursday 2-3, via Zoom. Zoom links are on Canvas, or email me about them.
  • Reach me at: katrin DOT erk AT utexas DOT edu

Online course information

This is an online course. Zoom links for all meetings will be posted on Canvas.

Course Purpose

To teach about, encourage, and give students time for research. Also to encourage discussion and collaboration among students interested in the same subfield.

Course Organization

There are six constituencies who will not be treated exactly equally in the course because their needs are different:

  • first-year students: need general context and help on first research projects and first-year papers
  • second-year students: need feedback on the research they have done, prepare for further research, and write second-year papers
  • third-year students: need to write their Qualifying Papers, write grant proposals
  • post-candidacy pre-proposal students: need to write and present their dissertation proposals
  • post-candidacy dissertation students: need to write dissertations, get feedback
  • students from other departments: needs will vary

Course Components

The course consists of two main parts: a research seminar, and discussion of ongoing student research.

  • Research seminar: This semester we focus on a recent papers in computational linguistics. Topics and readings will be given on the schedule page.
    Typically one of the students in the class will be responsible for giving a short initial summary of the paper and for preparing some questions to get the discussion going.
  • Discussion of ongoing student research:
    • Round-table: short presentations by all participants about their current research. This will happen almost every week.
    • On-going research: longer presentations (30 minutes or an hour including discussion), students, faculty, auditors if they wish
    • Dissertation proposal presentations
    • Dissertation progress talks
    • Practice talks for conference presentations


  • First-year students: Attend all classes/activities. Talk about research.
    First semester, submit literature discussion sketch halfway through the semester (see schedule), submit literature discussion at end of semester.
    Second semester, submit first-year paper draft halfway through the semester (see schedule), submit first-year paper at end of semester.
  • Second-year students: Attend all classes/activities. Talk about research.
    First semester, submit research discussion draft halfway through the semester (see schedule), submit research discussion paper at end of semester.
    Second semester, submit second-year paper draft halfway through the semester (see schedule), submit second-year paper at end of semester.
  • Third-year students: Attend all classes/activities. Talk about research.
    First semester, submit QP proposal halfway through the semester (see schedule), submit QP progress report at end of semester.
    Second semester, submit QP draft halfway through the semester (see schedule), submit QP at end of semester.
  • Post-candidacy, pre-proposal students: Attend all presentations. Talk about research.
  • Dissertation-writing students: Attend all presentations, give at least one presentation during semester on doctoral research).
  • Students from other departments: a course project, with 2 documents: intermediate report (2-3 pages), final report (8 pages), deadlines as given in the schedule.

Grading policy

Grading will be based on the course requirement listed above.

This course does not have a final exam or midterm exam.

The course will use plus-minus grading, using the following scale:

 Grade Percentage
 A >= 93%
 A- >= 90%
 B+ >= 87%
 B >= 83%
 B- >= 80%
 C+ >= 77%
 C >= 73%
 C- >= 70%
 D+ >= 67%
 D >= 63%
 D- >= 60%

Safety and Class Participation/Masks

We will all need to make some adjustments in order to benefit from in-person classroom interactions in a safe and healthy manner. Our best protections against spreading COVID-19 on campus are masks (defined as cloth face coverings) and staying home if you are showing symptoms. Therefore, for the benefit of everyone, this is means that all students are required to follow these important rules.

  • Every student must wear a cloth face-covering properly in class and in all campus buildings at all times
  • Students are encouraged to participate in documented daily symptom screening.  This means that each class day in which on-campus activities occur, students must upload certification from the symptom tracking app and confirm that they completed their symptom screening for that day to Canvas.  Students should not upload the results of that screening, just the certificate that they completed it. If the symptom tracking app recommends that the student isolate rather than coming to class, then students must not return to class until cleared by a medical professional.
  • Information regarding safety protocols with and without symptoms can be found here.

If a student is not wearing a cloth face-covering properly in the classroom (or any UT building), that student must leave the classroom (and building). If the student refuses to wear a cloth face covering, class will be dismissed for the remainder of the period, and the student will be subject to disciplinary action as set forth in the university’s Institutional Rules/General Conduct 11-404(a)(3). Students who have a condition that precludes the wearing of a cloth face covering must follow the procedures for obtaining an accommodation working with Services for Students with Disabilities.

Sharing of Course Materials is prohibited

No materials used in this class, including, but not limited to, lecture hand-outs, videos, assessments (quizzes, exams, papers, projects, homework assignments), in-class materials, review sheets, and additional problem sets, may be shared online or with anyone outside of the class unless you have my explicit, written permission. Unauthorized sharing of materials promotes cheating. It is a violation of the University’s Student Honor Code and an act of academic dishonesty. I am well aware of the sites used for sharing materials, and any materials found online that are associated with you, or any suspected unauthorized sharing of materials, will be reported to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity in the Office of the Dean of Students. These reports can result in sanctions, including failure in the course.

FERPA and Class Recordings

Class recordings are reserved only for students in this class for educational purposes and are protected under FERPA. The recordings should not be shared outside the class in any form. Violation of this restriction by a student could lead to Student Misconduct proceedings.

COVID guidance

To help keep everyone at UT and in our community safe, it is critical that students report COVID-19 symptoms and testing, regardless of test results, to University Health Services, and faculty and staff report to the HealthPoint Occupational Health Program (OHP) as soon as possible. Please see this link to understand what needs to be reported.  In addition, to help understand what to do if a fellow student in the class (or the instructor or TA) tests positive for COVID, see this University Health Services link.

Notice about students with disabilities

The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. Please contact the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 5121-471-6259.

Notice about missed work due to religious holy days

A student who misses an examination, work assignment, or other project due to the observance of a religious holy day will be given an opportunity to complete the work missed within a reasonable time after the absence, provided that he or she has properly notified the instructor. It is the policy of the University of Texas at Austin that the student must notify the instructor at least fourteen days prior to the classes scheduled on dates he or she will be absent to observe a religious holy day. For religious holy days that fall within the first two weeks of the semester, the notice should be given on the first day of the semester. The student will not be penalized for these excused absences, but the instructor may appropriately respond if the student fails to complete satisfactorily the missed assignment or examination within a reasonable time after the excused absence.

Emergency Evacuation Policy

Occupants of buildings on The University of Texas at Austin campus are required to evacuate buildings when a fire alarm is activated. Alarm activation or announcement requires exiting and assembling outside. Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of each classroom and building you may occupy. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when entering the building. Students requiring assistance in evacuation shall inform their instructor in writing during the first week of class. In the event of an evacuation, follow the instruction of faculty or class instructors. Do not re-enter a building unless given instructions by the following: Austin Fire Department, The University of Texas at Austin Police Department, or Fire Prevention Services office. Information regarding emergency evacuation routes and emergency procedures can be found at

Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL)

If you are worried about someone who is acting differently, you may use the Behavior Concerns Advice Line to discuss by phone your concerns about another individual's behavior. This service is provided through a partnership among the Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC), the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and The University of Texas Police Department (UTPD). Call 512-232-5050 or visit