Student Project Guide

This page contains a walkthrough for successfully completing a student research project, along with instructions for completing a project proposal, related work review and final paper. It also provides the rubrics by which each part of the project will be graded.

Project Proposal


Your summary should contain a title, list of the members of in your group along with their emails.

The body of the summary should contain the following parts:
  • The first paragraph should be a concise summary of the goals of your project.
  • Following this should be a section describing the scientific merit of your work. Include why this is a challenging question worthy of a research project, and why it is important to its field of study (for example, why can you not just do this with off the shelf available software?). For design projects, discuss why this is important for the group, company or advisor the project is being developed with.
  • The second section should be the broader impacts of your work. Describe the benefits to your field of study or project design company/advisor and beyond should your work be successful.
  • The last section should be the approach to your work. Describe your strategy and methodology to accomplishing your proposed work by the end of the course, any open source as well as what 3rd party software packages you intend to use for this.
This will be useful so you can get feedback on the feasibility of your project from me and your classmates during the proposal review classes.

Research projects should use the following latex files as a template: sample_proposal.zip. Within the zip file you should find the following files:
    IEEEtran.bst
    proposal-defs-alt.tex
    sample_proposal.tex
You should only need to modify sample_proposal.tex with your appropriate information. To generate a pdf file from the latex, run (from a linux terminal):
    pdflatex sample_proposal.tex.
Design projects can use either the above latex files or your text editor of choice (MS Word or Open Office).

Proposal files should be uploaded to moodle as a pdf only (for cross platform compatibility and prevention of formatting errors). Professional and proper presentation is important and will be part of your grade. The following rubrics will be used by myself (and also your peers) to evaluate your project proposal (as well as other written components). Your grade for the project proposal and presentation will be the sum of your scores for each area divided by the maximum possible score.

Project Proposal Rubric

The following critera will be used for grading the different written components of your research or design project.
3 2 1 0
Scientific Merit Proposal accurately describes the challenges behind the proposed work, and a compelling description of its importance. The challenges and importance are related to an accurate portrayal of the current state-of-the-art. Challenges are well portrayed and the description of the works importance is mostly compelling. Challenges are described, but may not be completely correct. Description of the works importance is given but not compelling. Challenges are not described, or incorrect. Description of importance is lacking, or incorrect.
Broader Impacts The proposal is well related to the current state-of-the-art, describing how its completion will be of benefit to its related field of study or project design company/advisor. It should be apparent that the ramifications of the work is well understood. The proposal is related to some state-of-the-art work, and the ramifications of the work and its benefit to the field of study/advisor is partially understood and described. Relation to start-of-the-art work may be incomplete or mostly missing. Ramifications of the work may be poorly understood. Benefits may be poorly described. The proposal is incorrectly or not related to the state-of-the-art. Ramifications are incorrectly or not understood, and the benefits are not described or incorrect.
Approach A well reasoned and described strategy for the successful completion of the project is given. Candidates for third-party software and appropriate related algorithms are mentioned. A strategy is presented for the successful completion of the project that demonstrates good knowledge of the problem at hand. Some candidates for third-party software and related algorithms are mentioned. A strategy is presented for the completion of the project that demonstrates some knowledge of the problem. Few candidates for third-party software and related algorithms are mentioned. A strategy is presented for the completion of the project that is incomplete or does not demonstrate knowledge of the problem. No candidates for third-party software and related algorithms are mentioned.

Oral Project Proposal Presentation

Your oral project proposal presentation should take 10-15 minutes (including questions). Your proposal should be approximately 10-15 slides long, depending on content. You should also incliude 2-3 slides about the current progress of your project.
3 2 1 0
Presentation The speaker describes the related technical details and proposed strategy in a way that is easy for the common listener to understand. Layperson listeners may not understand all the technical details or proposed strategy. Very challenging for a layperson to understand. Impossible for a layperson to understand.
Technical Quality The speaker clearly presents any background material required for appropriate understanding in a manner easy to understand. Informed listeners may understand background material with some applied effort. Limited and minor to moderate incorrect presentation of background material. Speech uses acronyms and other technical terms without discussion of what they mean. Background material not presented, or presented in a very minimal way.
References Technical references are provided and referred to (along with strong explanation). References are provided to required technical details, however discussion of this material might not be in depth or easily understandable. Few technical references are provided for background information, and little attempt is made to discuss it. References are entirely missing, glossed over or not possible to understand.

Related Work Review


This assignment requires your group to survey research related to your project. For each reviewed paper or related work, there should be at least a 1 paragraph description written in your own words. The paper should be cited within this paragraph. Quotes and block quotes can be used, but do not count towards the 1 paragraph description (you have to write something yourself). Depending on your group size, the related work survey should contain:
  • 1 person: Minimum of 5 papers or related works referenced.
  • 2 person: Minimum of 10 papers or related works referenced.
  • 3 person: Minimum of 15 papers or related works referenced.
Your related work survey should start with a paragraph or two introduction to the content of the survey, and should contain subsections requiring any background information that will be needed to understand your paper reviews. For example if there are commonly cited algorithms or software packages, these should be described here so the reader has background information about what your review is about.

Following the introduction, the next section should spend at least a parapaph discussing each of your related papers. What their approach was, what their significant results were, and any limitations or possible improvements to their work.

You should conclude your survey with a section describing how your proposed work is different than the related work (i.e., you're not copying someone else), and why your approach is an improvement on what has already been done, or addresses a need that the other work does not.

You can use the following group of files to write your paper in LaTeX: survey_template.zip (Please ignore the poorly formatted equations.)

You should only have to make edits to the references.bib file (for your citations) and the main.tex file for your text. To generate a pdf from the LaTex files run:
    pdflatex main.tex
    bibtex main
    bibtex main (you need to run bibtex twice)
    pdflatex main.tex (you may need to run pdflatex one more time)
And your pdf should be generated as main.pdf. The linux lab machines should have LaTeX installed. Make sure your citations have all the required information (Authors, Title, Conference/Journal Name, Location, Date, Page Numbers, etc.) as shown in the example survey.

I recommend the following links for a basic overview/introduction to LaTeX: You can also use a different text editor to write your related work survey, however unlike latex, many of these do not automatically handle properly formatting and referencing cited works. Do so at your own peril.

Related Work Presentation


Each team will need to make an in depth 10-15 minute presentation (including questions) about one paper or piece of software they reviewed for the related work survey. The presentation will follow a similar rubric to the proposal presentation, however the aim of this presentation will be to inform the class about the paper or software reviewed so we all gain an understanding of it and how it works. Of particular importance is to give the presentation so that the audience leaves with a good understanding of the work. It is your responsibility to provide required background knowledge so that the audience can understand the work, using citations and references as needed.

The following rubric will be used to grade the related work presentation:

Oral Presentation Rubric

3 2 1 0
Presentation The speaker describes the related technical details and proposed strategy in a way that is easy for the common listener to understand. Layperson listeners may not understand all the technical details or proposed strategy. Very challenging for a layperson to understand. Impossible for a layperson to understand.
Technical Quality The speaker clearly presents any background material required for appropriate understanding in a manner easy to understand. Informed listeners may understand background material with some applied effort. Limited and minor to moderate incorrect presentation of background material. Speech uses acronyms and other technical terms without discussion of what they mean. Background material not presented, or presented in a very minimal way.
References Technical references are provided and referred to (along with strong explanation). References are provided to required technical details, however discussion of this material might not be in depth or easily understandable. Few technical references are provided for background information, and little attempt is made to discuss it. References are entirely missing, glossed over or not possible to understand.

Updated Proposal


Following your related work survey, you should update your initial project proposal with additional details pertaining to what you learned in your related work survey. In the case of research projects, you should differentiate your proposed work from what other people have done. For design projects, you should identify the software, systems and algorithms that you will utilize for your project.

Proposal files should be uploaded to moodle as a pdf only (for cross platform compatibility and prevention of formatting errors). Professional and proper presentation is important and will be part of your grade. See the rubrics at the bottom of the page for grading critera. These rubrics will be used by myself (and also your peers) to evaluate your project proposal (as well as other written components). Your grade for the project proposal will be the sum of your scores for each area divided by the maximum possible score.

Rough Draft


This assignment requires your group to have a finished preliminary draft of your final paper (excluding results and conclusion, the implementation section may be partially incomplete if the implementation is not finished). There are no page limits (I prefer concise and to the point writing), however you must provide enough material to adequately address the metrics for your grade, as provided in the rubric. Papers should contain the following sections (similar to the papers you've read in your related work), excluding the results section (although if you have things in there that is better -- maybe what tests you'll be running, etc).
  • Abstract (~0.25-0.5 pages): In many ways the abstract is the most important part of your paper. Many readers (and especially reviewers) will get an initial impression of your work from this and judge it accordingly. Many readers will determine if they will continue to read the rest of the paper based on the abstract. You should briefly discuss the scientific merit, importance, and challenges of your work -- why is it important and interesting? Following this briefly describe what work was done, what your results work and the impacts of what you've done.
  • Introduction (1 - 1.5 pages): The introduction should be an expanded version of your abstract. It should contain a paragraph or two on each of the a). scientific merit/importance/challenges, b). overview of the work done and how it relates to other similar work, c). what your results were, d). a brief overview of what is in the rest of the paper (at most 1 sentence per section).
  • Related Work (0.75-1.5 pages): You should condense the information from your survey paper here. It is important to categorize and group the work based on its characteristics to give an overview of what has been done before.
  • Approach/Methodology (1-2 pages): After describing what others have done in the related work, you need to explain your approach to the work. You want to explain why you are doing things the way your are doing. Why did they need to be done that way as opposed to something that's already been done? Why is your approach better than others? Why did you make the different design and implementation decisions that you made?
  • Implementation (1-2 pages for research projects, 2-3 pages for design projects): Here you describe how you implemented your work. You need to have enough detail such that the reader could reproduce your work if needed. This is the place to include software diagrams, database schemas, pseudocode for algorithms and things like that.
  • Results (2-3 pages for research projects, 1-2 pages for design projects): Present your results here (charts are great). Why was your work successful (or unsuccessful)? How does it out perform other related work? How fast does it do what it's supposed to do? Does it do what it's supposed to do correctly?
  • Future Work (0.5 pages): Hopefully in the process of doing your project, other interesting avenues for work may have come up that you didn't have time to investigate. If you were to continue this work, what would you do? If you were going to hand this project off to someone else, what do you think would be good for them to work on?
  • Conclusion (0.5 - 1 page): Discuss the impact and importance of the results here. Often starting with a short overview of the work is useful here.

All the writing MUST BE IN YOUR OWN WORDS if it is not, you either need to use quotation marks and a citation, or a block quote and a citation, even if you are copying partial sentences of another work. Here are examples of using quotations and block quotes, if you have any text that is identical to that in another work you need to use quotation marks if it is less than 4 lines long, and a block quote otherwise. If you do not properly quote/cite other work it will be considered plagiarism and you will recieve a 0 for the assignment (and most likely receive a C or lower in the course).

Use the following group of files to write your paper in LaTeX: survey_template.zip (Please ignore the poorly formatted equations.)

You should only have to make edits to the references.bib file (for your citations) and the main.tex file for your text. To generate a pdf from the LaTex files run:
    pdflatex main.tex
    bibtex main
    bibtex main (you need to run bibtex twice)
    pdflatex main.tex (you may need to run pdflatex one more time)
And your pdf should be generated as main.pdf. The following rubric will be used to grade your rough draft:

Rough Draft Rubric

The following critera will be used for grading the different written components of your research or design project.
3 2 1 0
Scientific Merit Proposal accurately describes the challenges behind the proposed work, and a compelling description of its importance. The challenges and importance are related to an accurate portrayal of the current state-of-the-art. Challenges are well portrayed and the description of the works importance is mostly compelling. Challenges are described, but may not be completely correct. Description of the works importance is given but not compelling. Challenges are not described, or incorrect. Description of importance is lacking, or incorrect.
Broader Impacts The proposal is well related to the current state-of-the-art, describing how its completion will be of benefit to its related field of study or project design company/advisor. It should be apparent that the ramifications of the work is well understood. The proposal is related to some state-of-the-art work, and the ramifications of the work and its benefit to the field of study/advisor is partially understood and described. Relation to start-of-the-art work may be incomplete or mostly missing. Ramifications of the work may be poorly understood. Benefits may be poorly described. The proposal is incorrectly or not related to the state-of-the-art. Ramifications are incorrectly or not understood, and the benefits are not described or incorrect.
Citations and Related Work All related work is well cited. Related work is well compared to the project and categorized to be easily understandable. There may be some missing related work. Related work is partially compared to the project and partially categorized. Related work is not well cited, with major omissions. Related work not well compared to the project nor well organized. Related work is not cited at all.
Description The work contains all required information for another party to recreate the system or software, and replicate the presented results. The work contains most of the required information for another party to recreate the system or software and replicate teh presented results. Recreation of the system, software, or results would be extremely difficult without significant additional work. Recreation of the system or software would be impossible based in the information presented.
Diagrams Technical diagrams are presented for complicated systems and workflows. Technical diagrams are present but may be missing some aspects in terms of their presentation or they may not be fully explained in an easy-to-understand manner. Technical diagrams are poorly presented or partially incorrect. Important technical diagrams are missing or incorrect.
Equations Equations are well explained, along with all involved terms and variables. Descriptions are self-contained, they do not assume the reader will know what every symbol means beforehand. Equations are presented but may be missing some explanation or technical explanation. Descriptions may not be entirely self-contained. Equations are missing, or partially incorrect. Explanations may leave much information missing or unexplained. If equations are present, their explanation may be missing or incorrect.
Algorithms Algorithms are presented in an easily readable format and thoroughly explained. Algorithms are presented but may be missing some explanation or technical explanation. Equations are missing, or partially incorrect. Explanations may leave much information missing or unexplained. If algorithms are present, their explanation may be missing or incorrect.

Midterm and Final Project Presentations


You should have at least the following 5 sections in your midterm and final presentations:

  • Problem definition
  • Demo
  • Software Overview Diagram and Explanation
  • Code Presentation
  • Database Schema (if applicable).
  • Progress and Future Work

Also:

  • Code must be in GitHub, with multiple commits from each team member.
  • Code must be well commented.
  • At least 3 TODOs in comments per team member.
  • Specify what code/files have been written by what team member.

In addition to these required parts, your presentation will be graded using the following rubric.

Project Presentation Rubric

3 2 1 0
Presentation Style The speaker describes the related technical details and proposed strategy in a way that is easy for the common listener to understand. Layperson listeners may not understand all the technical details or proposed strategy. Very challenging for a layperson to understand. Impossible for a layperson to understand.
Demo and Results Demo successfully meets the teams goals for the midterm or final project. Results are positive showing that the project can successfully perform the desired objectives. Demo mostly meets team goals for the midterm or final project. Results may be limited or not yet positive, but avenues for improvement are given. Demo is missing some major goals for the midterm or final project. Results are limited or not yet positive, but avenues for improvement are not discussed in much detail. Demo is not working or fails to meet most team goals. Results are missing or very limited, without avenues for improvement.
Description The work contains all required information for another party to recreate the system or software, and replicate the presented results. Design is well thought out, all appropriate components present and efficient. The work contains most of the required information for another party to recreate the system or software and replicate the presented results. Design is mostly thought out but may have some efficiency issues or lacking components. Recreation of the system, software, or results would be extremely difficult without significant additional work. Design is partially thought out, missing some key components and not necessarily efficient. Recreation of the system or software would be impossible based in the information presented. Design is not thought out or missing.
Diagrams Technical diagrams are presented for complicated systems and workflows. Technical diagrams are present but may be missing some aspects in terms of their presentation or they may not be fully explained in an easy-to-understand manner. Technical diagrams are poorly presented or partially incorrect. Important technical diagrams are missing or incorrect.

Final Paper


Your final paper will be graded with the same criteria as your rough draft, however the results, implementation and conclusion sections are expected to be fully complete. In addition to the rubric for the rough draft, an additional criteria for results and your software will be added:

Project Presentation Rubric

3 2 1 0
Software and Results Software successfully meets the teams goals for the midterm or final project. Results are positive showing that the project can successfully perform the desired objectives. Software mostly meets team goals for the midterm or final project. Results may be limited or not yet positive, but avenues for improvement are given. Software is missing some major goals for the midterm or final project. Results are limited or not yet positive, but avenues for improvement are not discussed in much detail. Software is not working or fails to meet most team goals. Results are missing or very limited, without avenues for improvement.