I am writing my first Computer Science conference paper. The thing I don't understand is the difference between "related work" vs "background", could someone explain this?

I have read some related papers, some of them have long "background" section with short "related work" section, while other papers just simply have a long "related work" section.

I am confused about what to put for the related work and background section, I thought those two parts may have many overlappings since both sections will describe how previous work approach the problem. If I would like to have both sections, then I need to describe how previous work approach the problem in both sections?

  • I would use 'Background' to explain a technical concept. E.g., Turing test. On the other hand, Related Work is where you outline the gaps in the state-of-the-art. Oct 20, 2020 at 5:01

1 Answer 1


From my understanding:

  • Background: Explains all concepts the reader needs to understand the present paper. This typically includes references to existing work that introduced the concepts, but usually a limited number thereof (<= 5, unless your paper builds on exceptionally diverse foundations).
  • Related work: Discusses other related work. This should not only summarize the existing work, but also discuss how your present paper differs from it and why this is a "step forward" (new or better).

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