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 course's main summative assesment: an 8,000 word
project proposal which is worth 90% of your mark (the other 10% is made
out of the mandatory seminars).
The proposal due date is 4 May, 2007. You need to
submit 2 bound copies. One
will be returned to you with comments, one will be retained for the
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,
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
scope for the project. Excessively long proposals (and
are as inappropriate as excessively short ones. Depending on the
of the research, some amount of space will be given over to figures,
and/or an extensive bibliography.
- A 3-5 page Introduction
- summarizes the expected main argument
of the dissertation,
- presents a clear roadmap for the rest of the document, and
- provides a proposed timeline for the project (including better
& worse case scenerios.)
- A word count for the document.
It is expected that significant sections of the project proposal will
serve as drafts for several chapters of your final dissertation.
However, the primary purpose of the proposal is to document and
the early stages of your project research.
Assessment of the Proposal
Assesment will depend on your supervisor as well as the course
lecturer. The mark sheets they will be using are available
from the course web page, on the Lecture Notes page.
Your supervisor will be asked
to asses the following questions about
The following questions will not be assesed, but you should discuss
with your supervisor:
- Does the project described in the proposal reflect the
have had with its author?
- Is the literature review appropriate and adequate for the
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
- Are the project's goals attainable by the methods described?
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 all the
proposals, it is particularly important
that your Introduction is both clear and concise.
When considering whether a proposal is passable, the lecturer will be
Good proposals should address further concerns, such as:
- Is there a thesis argument for the proposal?
- Is there a proposed thesis statement for the dissertation?
- Are the arguments clear? Is the content of the proposal
motivated by it?
- Will the proposed research contribute to the argument further?
- Does the Introduction give a good guide to the rest of the
- Is there a proposed timeline for how the project will be
- 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% of the total for the
assignment (or 45% of your overall mark).
- Will the proposed assessment of the project ensure that an
outcome of the research will be well-established?
- Does the author account for the fact that there are a range of
outcomes? Can the thesis argument be disproven as well as
- Is there extraneous information which does not contribute to the
(This is bad, not good!)
page author: Joanna Bryson
last updated: 30 January 2007