CM50175 -- Research Project Preparation
Assesment: The Project Proposal
The Bare Facts
The objective of this course is to teach you how to do research in computer
science. In particular, you are expected to learn about how to choose
a good topic, how to conduct research (both through literature and through
your own work), how to evaluate research (both yours and others) and how
to communicate the results of your research in writing.
This is this courses main summative assesment: an 8,000 word project
proposal which is worth 80% of your mark (the other 20% is made out of the mandatory seminars).
The proposal due date is 5 May, 2004. You need to submit 2 bound copies. One will be returned to you with comments, one will be retained for the external examiner.
Contents of the Proposal
The proposal should contain:
The exact structure of the document is up to you, but there must be:
- A description of the project to be carried out, including:
- The project's primary and secondary goals.
- The approach to be used, including an approximate timeline.
- An initial proposal for a suitable methodology for assessing whether each of the project's
goals has been accomplished.
- The motivation for the project.
- The background of the project, including any related work, whether
in the form of research or applications.
- A comprehensive literature review which supports all of the above.
The proposal should reflect about 80 hours of effort, including both research and writing time. The length of the full proposal should be aproximately 8,000 words. The
exact word count is not important; this figure is given to show the approximate
scope for the project. Excessively long proposals (and dissertations!)
are as inappropriate as excessively short ones. Depending on the nature
of the research, some amount of space will be given over to figures, diagrams
and/or an extensive bibliography.
- A 3-5 page Introduction which summarizes the expected main argument
of the dissertation.
It is expected that sections of the project proposal will eventually
serve as drafts for several chapters of your final dissertation.
However, the primary purpose of the proposal is to document and communicate
the early stages of your project research.
Assessment of the Proposal
Assesment will depend on your supervisor as well as the course lecturer.
Your supervisor will be asked to asses the following questions about
The following questions will not be assesed, but you should discuss them
with your supervisor:
- Does the project described in the proposal reflect the discussions you
have had with its author?
- Is the literature review appropriate and adequate for the project?
Are references current, relevant and from acceptable sources?
- Is all of the content of the proposal justified by the project / topic area, or is there filler?
- Are all of the project's goals worthwhile? Which are most important?
- Are the project's goals attainable by the methods described? In
the time available?
The lecturer will be marking the Introduction only to make sure the students have learned the course objectives. Since one person will be looking at 40 proposals, it is particularly important
that your Introduction is both clear and concise.
When considering whether a proposal is passable, the lecturer will be asking:
Good proposals should address further concerns, such as :
- Is there a thesis argument for the dissertation?
- Is the argument clear? Is the content of the proposal well motivated by it?
- Will the proposed research contribute to the argument further?
- Does the Introduction give a good guide to the rest of the document?
- Is there a proposed timeline for how the project will be conducted?
- Is the bibliography correctly formatted?
The final grade will be determined by summing the marks by the two markers: each marker's input will be worth 50%.
- Will the proposed assessment of the project ensure that an outcome
- Does the author account for the fact that there are a range of possible
outcomes? Can the thesis argument be disproven as well as proven? If
so, what will be the emphasis of the dissertation?
- Is there extraneous information which does not contribute to the argument?
(This is bad, not good!)
page author: Joanna Bryson
last updated: 26 March 2004