CIS Undergraduate Research Projects: Final Report Requirements
Prof Sklar

for students who are registered for CISC 4900 (60.1) and CISC 5001 (88.1):

last updated: sklar/20-dec-2011

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You project write-up should be a COMPLETE report of everything you have done this term.

Format your report using the ACM's "SIG" Proceedings Template. This is a standard 2-column format that is used for many computing conferences. The templates are available in a variety of formats here.

Using the ACM 2-column format, your report should be 4-6 pages for a CISC 4900 project and should be 8-12 pages for an CISC 5001 project.

If you have written software, then the (documented) source code should be included as an Appendix to the report. The source code should be in plain text format (i.e., not the ACM 2-column format). The Appendix is NOT included in the page count.

The report should have the following sections:

  1. Title and Abstract
    The Abstract should be 1-2 paragraphs and should explain what the project is about.
  2. Introduction
    This should re-state the abstract in more detail, including a brief description about what you did for the project, an explanation of the purpose of the project and what you learned from the experience.
    For CISC 4900 students, this can include experiences you gained from tutoring.
  3. Background
    Your project should be based on some background reading that you have done which grounds your research in some technical computing field.
    For CISC 4900 students, this may be web sites and/or textbooks that helped you learn some new programming language or technique.
    For CISC 5001 students, in addition to the above, this must include at least 2 published research papers in the topic area of your research. For each research paper that you read, create an Annotated Bibliography entry. Detailed instructions are here. You may include each entry as an appendix to this report.
    After you have completed the background reading, you should compile the ideas you have read about into a single section of the paper, Background. Here you can include the descriptions you have written for your annotated bibliography entries. You should also include some content where you compare and contrast the papers you have read.
  4. Project Description
    Describe the project in complete detail.
    If it is a programming or web-design project, then include the source files (as an appendix to the project write-up) and be sure to include enough detail so that if another student were going to pick up where you left off next term, then they would have enough information to go on.
    If your project involved new technologies (i.e., using software tools that were new to you), then describe the tool(s). Explain how you learned how to use the tool, what information was helpful, what information was not helpful and what information you would pass on to someone else using the tool in future. Be sure to include any bibliographic references, with complete citations!
  5. Experiments and Results (primarily for CISC 5001 projects)
    Most CISC 5001 projects will involve designing and running some type of experiment. You need to include a description of the experimental design: what is your hypothesis? How will you test it? Then you need to provide the results and analyze them. Did your results prove or disprove your hypothesis? What did you learn from the experiment(s)?
  6. Summary and Future Work
    Summarize what you did and what you learned. This can be very brief, since you have already made these statements in the abstract and introduction. Then go on and highlight problems you had, issues which you had to face and hurdles which you had to (or were unable to) overcome.
    Outline some ideas for future work. If you were going to continue the project next term, what would you do? If someone else were going to pick up the project from you next term, what would you recommend that they do?
  7. Bibliography
    Include FULL bibliographic references from any outside sources. FULL means you need to include: author(s) (full names of all authors), title of article, where it was published (book, journal, conference proceedings, etc.), when it was published (year), who published it (name of publisher). Journal articles typically have a volume number and sometimes an issue number. If you are citing a URL, something that is only published online and is not part of an archival document (i.e., never published on paper), then you need to include as much of the above information as you can find, plus the complete URL plus the date when you last accessed the source. In the bibliography entry, you say something like: last accessed: January 1, 2010.

    Note: Wikipedia is not a reliable reference. The content is not peer-reviewed (not reviewed by qualified professionals working within the content area), so the information has not necessarily been verified. While you might go to Wikipedia as a first place to look for information, you should make sure to double-check all the information that you gather there using another source that is published and peer-reviewed (e.g., a book, a journal article or an archival conference---such as one sponsored by IEEE or ACM).

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