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Instructions for each stage of the project

First submission: prioritized list of topics for self-stufy

Purpoe

The purpose of this is to assign a topic to you.

What to submit

Together with a partner, e-mail a list of at least four topics you are willing to study, in order of preference. You will be assigned a topic from this list, but may not receive your top choice.

If you want to work alone, you must receive permission from the teaching staff first. E-mail your request with an explanation for why you want to work alone.

You may use the course mailing list to search for a partner.

Evaluation

You must submit on time. If you submit late, you will be struck from the course.


Second submission: outline of your topic and presentation

Purpose

The purpose of this it to demonstrate that you are making early progress. You must submit the following:

What to submit

  • An outline of your report. The outline must minimally consist of proposed headings and subheadings for the report, and for each heading a short description of the contents the section will contain.
  • A list of sources you will be using for study.

Evaluation

You will be evaluated on:

  • The scope and quality of your outline. Does it show that you have a high-level grasp of the area? Does it show that you know what is important in the area? Does it show that you can organize information in the area?
  • The quality of your list of sources. Does it demonstrate good judgement? Is the scope of the selection appropriate? Are the individual sources appropriate?

If either submission is inadequate you will get one week to revise your submission. You will only be allowed one revision. If we find instances of plagiarism you will be reported to the university's disciplinary board and automatically fail the course.

Source material

It is crucial that you select good source material. The list you submit here is your initial list of sources -- you will probably need more later. You will be evaluated on the quality of your sources, so here are some guidelines.

Examples of good sources:

  • Peer-reviewed academic papers from well-known conferences or journals. Papers that have been cited a lot are particularly good. If possible, use recent papers. If you use older papers you must verify any information you find that may have changed. A good starting point for finding papers is Google Scholar. For analyzing citations, CiteSeerX is good.
  • Technical books by well-known authors. It is important that you use recent books whenever possible. If you use an older book, you must verify that the information you find is still accurate.
  • Official standards. If your topic involves a standard you are expected to read the appropriate standard.
  • Internet RFCs. An RFC (Request For Comment) that has not been marked obsolete is a good source. For many topics you will be expected to read the appropriate RFCs.

Some examples of bad sources:

  • Wikipedia is a good place to learn and to start looking, but it is not a primary source. You need to go to the primary sources, usually linked from wikipedia articles. The same applies to many other websites, such as protocols.com.
  • Whitepapers. Whitepapers are usually bad resources, because they present a skewed picture of the topic (in order to generate sales for some company). There are exceptions, but any whitepaper must be viewed very critically.
  • Product-specific documentation. This is not a course about specific products, so product-specific documentation is inappropriate. It may be useful to get an understanding of how something works in practice, but it shouldn't be a primary source.
  • Sales materials. Documents intended to generate sales are not appropriate at all.

Third submission: first draft

Purpose

The purpose of the first draft is to demonstrate that you are making appropriate progress in your self-study, and to detect any problems early on, so they can be corrected.

What to submit

You must submit the following:

  • A first draft of your report. This version contains more information than your outline. Some sections will be partially written (some may be completely written), and any unfinished parts at least have good descriptions. The structure may have been revised since the outline.
  • A revised list of sources. By this time you should have found additional sources, and may have abandoned others. Submit a revised list of sources.

Evaluation

You will be evaluated on the following points.

  • Does the draft demonstrate adequate progress since the outline? There must be considerable content, although not in final form, and the structure should be quite good, and reflect a solid understanding of the area.
  • The quality of your list of sources. Does it demonstrate good judgement? Is the scope of the selection appropriate? Are the individual sources appropriate?

If the quality is too low you will have one opportunity to revise, approximately one week after you receive the evaluation. If we find instances of plagiarism you will be reported to the university's disciplinary board and automatically fail the course.


Third submission: final version

Purpose

The purpose of the final version is to evaluate whether you know the material well enough to present it and to recieve a passing grade. Your preparedness to present will also be evaluated.

What to submit

You must submit the following:

  • Your completed report. The entire report should be completed and in final form.
  • Your presentation materials. Submit something that shows what you will be presenting. This could be in the form of a PowerPoint file, or simply a script for the presentation.

Evaluation

You will be evaluated on the following:

  • Does the report demonstrate sufficient understanding of the topic. It must demonstrate technical understanding of the topic to an appropriate depth (as agreed on earlier in the semester), the ability to synthesize information concerning the topic from multiple sources, the ability to explain the topic in a coherent and structured way, and an understanding of the larger technical and (if appropriate) socio-economic context of the topic.
  • Does the presentation have sufficient quality to be presented. It must cover an appropriate subset of the topic in a structured and coherent manner, and must demonstrate that the presenter has a sufficient understanding of the topic to organize information about it in a way that is appropriate to the target audience.

If the quality is not high enough you will be given an opportunity to revise the report, and may be allowed to present. Each case will be judged individually on this point. If you are not allowed to present, then you may be given an opportunity at a later date, but this cannot be guaranteed!

If we find instances of plagiarism you will be reported to the university's disciplinary board and automatically fail the course. You will not be permitted to present, as the quality of your understanding of the topic cannot be evaluated.


Page responsible: David Byers
Last updated: 2010-11-25