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The guidelines were developed by Professor Saiedian in mid 2000's for his software engineering (SE) students. Any EECS student may use these guidelines for other classes by ignoring SE-specific requirements. A PDF version of these guidelines is available.

Preparing a term paper proposal

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

Those who would like to write a term paper for their research project should submit a term paper proposal by the third week of the semester. The proposal (2-3 pages) should include the following:

  1. A tentative title for the proposed term paper. Make the title as descriptive, precise, and focused as possible. Avoid a general topic; try to narrow the research area it as much as possible to make your job simpler (e.g., when searching for references).

    A simple heuristic for developing a title: try to write a single, full sentence that describes your research objective, and then modify it to a paper title. When searching for researhc paper in that area, pay attention to their titles to get ideas.

  2. A clear problem statement that defines the problem you intend to address or the research work that you plan to do:
    • Do not describe the symptoms of the problem.
    • Do not describe a proposed solution.
    • Define the problem and its significance (note: even if you decide to write a survey or taxonomy paper, you must still define a problem statement that calls for or invites such a taxonomy).
    • Clearly articulate the objective and motivation for your work, and the significance of the topic you have chosen.
  3. A clear description of the intended contributions of the term paper.

  4. A clear description of your intended research methodology, e.g.,
    • Basic research (studying, synthesizing, organizing, evaluating, and summarizing existing research results)
    • An empirical study
    • A research work involving experiments
    • A survey and literature review. If you plan to prepare a literature review:
      • Do not prepare a fragmented, disjointed summaries of individual articles (or experiments, or studies)
      • Prepare a critical and analytical synthesis of different findings or case studies (e.g., compare, contrast, relate)
      • Be sure to have a well-defined focus or theme; chronological focus is not always good; strive for a thematic approach (e.g., different theoretical, contrasting approaches)
      • You need not be exhaustive (i.e., to cover everything) but you must cover the most significant contributions

  5. A tentative schedule

  6. References. In addition to the proposal, include a list of 10--15 references (from credible, peer-reviewed sources) related to the topic of your term paper proposal. You must CAREFULLY follow the citation format and bibliography style described in the paper guidelines (also presented below). No exceptions here. Depending on the focus of your proposed work, most of your references, especially for introductory papers, should be drawn from the following journals:
    • Communications of the ACM (general computing/IT)
    • ACM eLearn (IT/computing research meets practice)
    • IEEE Computer (general computing/IT)
    • IEEE Software (software engineering)
    • IEEE Security & Privacy (security)
    • IEEE Communications (communications and signal processing)
    • IEEE Network (computer networks)
    • International Journal of Project Management (software/IT project management)

    For more advanced graduate papers, you should consider transactions and high quality conference proceedings.

  7. Formatting references. The reference listing should be as complete as possible. It is very likely that your references will include journal articles, conference proceedings articles, books (or chapters in a book or in a collection), and technical reports. Follow a bibliography style like the APA. The following is a list of required items for each article:

    • Journal articles: author, title, journal, volume, number, year, pages [month].
    • Books: author (or editor), title, publisher, year, edition, publisher address.
    • Book chapters: same as book and/or conference proceedings articles.
    • Conference proceedings: author, title, proceedings title, pages, year, publisher, [editor, month, place]
    • Technical reports: author, title, institution, year [number, address]
    • Thesis/dissertation: author, title, school, year, [address]

Two powerful digital libraries (links)