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Professor Saiedian developed these guidelines in the mid-2000s for his software engineering students, but any EECS student may use them in other classes, ignoring the SE-specific requirements. Other faculty may borrow these guidelines with proper attribution.

Preparing a term paper outline

Due date. The term paper proposal is due during the sixth week of the semester.

To prepare a well-structured outline for your term paper, begin by closely examining the organizational structure of two papers closely related to your chosen topic. Set a high standard for your selection, opting for papers from esteemed publications such as IEEE Computer, IEEE Software, CACM, IEEE Security & Privacy, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (for more advanced content). Analyze and summarize the organizational framework employed by the authors of these two papers. This exercise will provide valuable insights into how to structure your own term paper and the types of content it should encompass. Include the output of this step with your outline.

Next, aim to create a reasonably comprehensive outline for your term paper. This task assumes that you have immersed yourself in relevant materials related to your topic and have dedicated time to contemplate the paper's organization. Your outline should encompass major sections, subsections, and possibly sub-subsections, each with a succinct description of its objective and its relationship to the preceding and subsequent sections. Additionally, tentatively decide on the placement of figures and tables within your paper's structure.

It's imperative to re-emphasize the importance of references. Ensure that you have gathered a substantial number of research papers—ideally 10 to 15—as definitive references for your term paper. These should include papers you have already thoroughly examined, briefly reviewed, or intend to study in greater detail, all of which you plan to cite in your paper. Incorporate these references into your outline. Additionally, provide a brief description of how each paper has influenced the development of your paper's outline and organization, or detail the ways in which each paper will contribute to your term paper writing process.

Finally, adhere to the APA or Harvard citation and bibliography style for the necessary formatting requirements to ensure your term paper not only maintains strong content but also adheres to proper formatting standards.

Please note: I will not evaluate your outline if you do not follow the guidelines. Do not underestimate the importance of having appropriate references and properly formatting them. Very often, your references are the only basis for someone to decide if they should even consider your paper. The references will tell how thoroughly you have researched the related area.

Software engineering analogies. Drawing parallels between software engineering and the process of crafting your term paper outline can offer valuable insights. Just as the earlier milestone of your term paper journey represented the requirements engineering phase, your outline now signifies the architectural engineering phase. In software development, a solid, stable, cohesive, and conceptually consistent architecture leads to a successful product – one that's easy to implement, adaptable, and reusable. Conversely, an inadequate architecture results in chaotic and highly unstable software. The same principle applies to crafting your term paper outline: investing time and effort into creating a well-thought-out outline is the key to a smoother writing process. The quality of your outline is paramount. A detailed outline, reflecting substantial thought, enables me to provide you with constructive feedback. Conversely, a superficial, overly concise, or overly general outline limits the usefulness of the feedback I can offer. Therefore, for a more efficient and effective term paper development process, prioritize the depth and detail of your outline.

If your outline is detailed and shows considerable thinking, it will allow me to provide you with feedback. If it is shallow, very brief, too general, I wont be able to provide useful feedback

Comprehensive digital libraries (links)