Senior Project - Final Report

The written final report should be no more than 11 pages long, inclusive of cover sheet. Do not include large amounts of source code in the report. We are primarily interested in your technical approach, high-level understanding of the problem, your solution to the problem, and (especially!) the results you were able to demonstrate.

With the exception of the cover page, all pages should be formatted in 12-point, Times-Romain typeface, with 2 point spacing between adjacent paragraphs, to facilitate easy reading. Space-and-a-half would be preferred between lines, as single spacing is too hard to read, and double spacing doesn't give you enough room for graphs, figures, discussion, etc.

As enrollments rise as UF and in our programs, it becomes more difficult to accomodate late reports and presentations. Thus, due to scheduling constraints in grading presentations and final reports, late penalties will be assessed for late presentations and final report submission without a documented excuse as permitted in this course. Late penalties will be assessed at the rate of 10 percent of total grade per working day (Monday through Friday) for each day late. The instructor apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause. The best way to ensure your project is on time is to follow the guidelines for time management, and to complete your work early.

The preferred format for the written final report is discussed as follows, and an Example Final Report (MS-Office97 format) is provided for your reference. However, you do not have to copy this format if you prefer to use another, equally clear way of organizing your information. Remember that your advisor and course supervisor will have to read your report and the latter will be grading many more such reports. Hence, clarity is essential.

  • Title Page. (all items centered): Title (large font), Name (smaller font), CIS 4914 Senior Project (smaller font), Name of Advisor (smaller font), Advisor's E-mail (smaller font), Date of Talk (smaller font).

  • Abstract. The abstract should contain a very short description (1-2 short paragraphs) of the report. When you write the abstract, imagine that the reader will not read anything else, but you must get your major point across immediately. This, in fact, is what abstracts are all about. Keep in mind that an abstract represents a very short summary of the entire report and should not simply be a subset of the introduction or conclusion section.

    First state the a) problem to be solved, and then b) your solution. Then specify c) your key results from the work and what you learned from the research. Finally, e) list keywords that best categorize your work. Some organizations such as ACM have a classification index from which key words and subject areas are chosen.

  • Introduction. The introduction should be approximately 0.5 to one page in length, and should contain the following information:

    Problem Statement: State the problem to be solved. Why are you doing this work and what significance does it have in the relevant literature? Even if your project is applied (as opposed to research-oriented), you are building a system because a problem, requiring a solution in the form of a computer program, exists.

    Background or Related Work: State who else has worked on this problem or similar problems (you should do most of your citations here). For applied projects, provide information on other existing programs which will use your program.

    Solution Statement: State your solution to the problem.

    Contribution: State how your solution builds upon and extends current technology.

    Sometimes, the introduction can be split into subsections or more than one section including the following parts: Background, Related Work and Motivation.

  • Problem Domain. This section should briefly (one short paragraph) describe the area of computer science, engineering, or general science in which the problem occurs, and how your solution to the problem fits into this area.

  • Literature Search. While working on your project, you have compiled a database of literature that supports your work. Literature sources can and should include the following:

    Parallel Research - This means that you initially should use a shotgun approach to research and seek information in all possible ways and in parallel. Do not make part of your research process dependent on the output from another source. Some aspects of the search process are unavoidably sequential, especially as your work becomes more detailed. However, do not assume that because you found relevant information in one place, you need to stop your search process.

    Library Research - Start with your library. Do a keyword search of all relevant online or card catalogues. The state university system (SUS) relies on LUIS to provide this functionality. Try different keywords because massive amounts of information are indexed and you must provide the right word that happened to be used to create the original index table.

    Other Media - Use CDROMs or Video Tapes if they are available. The INSPEC CDROMs are relevant to engineering and science projects. Some bookstores are now carrying CDROMs covering many different areas.

    Internet Research - Exploit the massive Internet resource by using the information tools. There are many tools for searching Gopher space, the World Wide Web (WWW) and FTP file transfer space.

    Usenet Resources - Post a query to electronic news groups. Again you must do an effective search for keywords before doing the keyword search. A search though your .newsrc file is a good start. After finding the appropriate groups, read the group's frequently asked questions (FAQ) file or do a search through all FAQs. As a last resort, post to the proper news group(s).

    Personal Correspondence - Send electronic mail to colleagues who might be able to provide pointers.

  • Solution. This should be a conceptual description defining the solution to the problem. Avoid using code and implementation details here; instead, define the solution in terms of algorithms, pseudocode and clear mathematical reasoning. Also, use figures, tables, and statistics to get your point across. The solution to the problem may occupy a number of sections. This section should occupy the bulk of your report.

  • Results. The last section describing your work should be an experimental results section showing textual or graphical output obtained from running your programs. You can include some facets of the implementation here but do not swamp the reader with code. Avoid discussing the user interface at any length unless the focus of the paper warrants it. Including one or two diagrams is sufficient. Graphs and statistics are always useful to summarize large amounts of data, and are desireable in technical documents. If you have a few screen shots of your software, that is always convincing.

  • Conclusions. State what you learned from your work. Sometimes this section is labeled Conclusion, Summary or Concluding Remarks. In this section:

    1. Summarize what you did. This can be viewed as the evidence.
    2. State what you learned (the actual conclusions that you a drawing).
    3. State future work and directions, and then list any open problems.
  • List the advantages and disadvantages of your work. In what ways is your solution deficient or lacking? You are not divulging a weakness in your work when you state problems that still remain. You may also have a separate section for future work.

  • Acknowledgements. Acknowledge any individuals who have helped you during the course of the project, including your project advisor. If you have been supported by a company or a scholarship/fellowship, then this should also be gratefully acknowledged.

  • References. All senior projects, especially research-oriented projects, should include at least a few references to the literature. You can choose any style, but be consistent and complete in your reference list. You should pick a particular style such as one promoted by a technical society (ACM, IEEE, SPIE, API, or AIP).

  • Appendices. Include brief code fragments, and illustrations of results that are too verbose for the body of your report. Reference these in the body of your report. If you have a lot of raw data that you think might be interesting, you can place examples of that here as well.

  • Biography. Include a biography of yourself. Include places where you have worked, and state your goals for employment or graduate study. This is a technical report, so please leave out cutesy remarks about your dog Spot, cat Puff, sweetie (Dick or Jane), and recent thrills that you may have had with extreme sports such as alien abduction. However, a brief sentence about your personal interests can always be included at the end of your biography, as that helps to personalize your work and can orient others toward you as an individual.

  • Since the Final Report is such an important part of your grade, we have carefully evolved the specific grading criteria for the Final Report to reflect areas of practical importance, as follows.

  • Grading Criteria. Your advisor must complete the Advisor's Grading Form to provide a score for your project and final report. This is not meant to mandate that the advisor adhere to a fixed procedure, but to provide for more consistency and fairness in grading. The information on this report is used in our course improvement process, in support of ABET accreditation, so it is very important that you provide this info.

    After receiving your final report with the advisor's grade sheet attached, the course supervisor will employ the following grading system in evaluating final reports. Categories 1-4 apply to the entire report, with Categories 5 and 6 applying to sections with which students usually have trouble. A letter grade will be assigned to each category, from which your final score from the course supervisor will be computed. (Your advisor is not required to use this grading system.)

                         ------------ GRADE --------------
        CATEGORY         E      D       C       B       A
        ---------------  --     --      --      --      --
        1. Clarity        1      2       3       4       5
        2. Organization   1      2       3       4       5
        3. English        1      2       3       4       5
        4. Appearance     1      2       3       4       5
        5. Discussion or
             Analysis     1      2       3       4       5
        6. References     1      2       3       4       5
        MAXIMUM TOTAL POINTS from Course Supervisor =   30

    The score assigned by the course supervisor to your final report will count 30 percent of your final score.

  • An Example Final Report for Fall 1999 was posted as a guide for students. Later in the semester, more examples (high-scoring projects from the previous semester) will be posted.
    Sat Dec 9 19:02:07 EST 2000