HONORS RESEARCH PROJECT IN COMPUTER SCIENCE GUIDELINES
As an Honors student in Computer Science, your last year and half as an undergraduate (or perhaps even earlier) will include an undergraduate research experience in Computer Science. The Honors Research Project is a chance to complete a research project with a faculty member in your chosen area of study. Many students describe this as one of the best experiences of the entire Honors requirements. If graduate school is your next goal, then this research provides a particularly strong foundation for your moving to the next academic step.
The following guide presents specific departmental requirements, expectations and advice for honors students preparing to participate in the honors research experience in the Department of Computer Science. It is intended to supplement the information found on the Honors College web site (http://www.uakron.edu/honors).
Goals of the Honors Research Project in Computer Science
Learning to access, interpret and apply existing knowledge in Computer Science. This will include learning to perform library and/or Internet searches of computing literature and databases, then reading and digesting the ideas found on your own with little guidance.
Gaining experience in computing research by formulating and answering original questions, ultimately creating new scholarly results in Computer Science.
Finally, demonstrating a command of new and existing knowledge by being able to express conclusions both orally and in writing, using a format and style appropriate for publication in the computing literature.
The Honors Research Project Research Report/Thesis
The Honors Research Project in Computer Science requires completion of a written report fitting into one of two categories:
Research Thesis : original scholarship investigating a significant question.
Research Report : a formal written presentation of technical, laboratory, or investigative research.
The paper topic should be grounded in your completed course work in Computer Science, so that you have sufficient background in the area. There are no length restrictions on the paper, but most papers are 20 to 60 pages in length. You should expect to have at least 10 bibliography listings with proper citations, with figures, tables and equations formatted neatly.
Your paper should include an abstract (200 words maximum) prepared according to guidelines found on the Honors College web site.
Faculty Advisor and Readers
The student is to select a project advisor, as well as a committee comprised of the advisor and two additional University faculty members. Advisors for Computer Science honors projects are generally full-time faculty from the Computer Science department, but are not required to be. It is important to obtain permission from the Computer Science department’s Honors Faculty Advisor before beginning projects outside of the Computer Science department. Summer internships could also be used as honors projects; however permission must be obtained before the project begins.
Assuming the traditional route, you will need to talk to various faculty members to find an advisor in the department. He or she will help you to define your project, outline the process, and identify faculty readers, who help in the editing process by giving feedback and suggesting changes for the final proposal. It is strongly suggested that, in the fall of their junior year, students seek out an advisor for their Computer Science honors project. Student will take 3460:497 Individual Reading in Computer Science with the advisor in the spring semester of the junior year to find a topic for the research project. The Honors College requires that students and advisors fill out the honors project form by the end of the junior year. The form can be found on the Honors college web site.
The Department of Computer Science strongly recommends that students have found a sponsor, and in many cases begin their research, long before the end of their junior year. It is important to begin the process of determining a project as early as possible since many research projects may require work over a six to 12 month span. It is likely that Computer Science faculty will not accept students if they don’t have sufficient time to help you complete the project in time for graduation. Therefore, contacting potential faculty for Honors projects early is the best thing a student can do for success. Typically the summer between the junior and senior year can offer a good time to work on your project when other research projects are most active and the advisor and other graduate students are likely to be most active.
The advisor sets clear parameters with respect to expectations of the honors project. Students should ask a potential advisor what their expectations are with respect to how their work will be graded, how long the proposed research is expected to take to finish, how many honors project credits they should take and when (i.e. summer, fall or spring), what form the final written work is expected to take, and if they expect the research to be presented in any form in addition to a paper (e.g. poster presentation at a meeting). If necessary, honors students may apply for funds from the Honors College to help offset the costs of their projects.
The Honors Course
The student should enroll in 3460:498 Senior Honors Project for 1-3 credit hours in the spring semester of their junior year or the fall semester of their senior year. You will meet weekly or biweekly with your sponsor that semester. You should spend an average of 5 hours per week developing your project. Note that 3460:497 Individual Reading in Computer Science) is the prerequisite of 3460:498, and you cannot take both courses in the same semester. You will need to plan ahead.
In your final semester, enroll in 3460:498 (Senior Honors Project) for 1-3 credit hours. You will spend up to 10 hours per week finishing your project, writing the paper, and, most importantly, revising the paper. It is typical to rewrite sections of the paper many times – that's a normal part of technical writing.
In general, the grade for the project is based upon completion of a written paper in the form of a scientific journal article. Students who sign up for more than 3 credits usually require 2 semesters to complete their project. If a project extends past one semester (this is common) the student will receive the grade of in progress (IP) for the first semester and subsequent semesters until the project is finished.
Please note even though you can take 3460:498 as many times as needed, no more than 4 credits can be applied to the degree program. A minimum of 2 credits is needed to fulfill the Honor degree requirements.
Due to the need for feedback, your readers and advisor should be provided copies of your report in its final stages at least 8 weeks before grades are due. You should expect to make changes after your readers give you feedback on the proposal.
If the project advisor believes that progress toward completion of the research and final written results has not been demonstrated by the 8 week deadline, or any reader feels that significant additional work needs to be done prior to completion, the advisor can recommend delaying graduation.
With changes made you should provide your project advisor, and any reader that has asked to see the final version, a final draft for review at least 3 weeks before grades are due. With these deadlines in mind you should expect that you will have completed the bulk of the work for your project in the summer and/or fall with attention paid to writing up the results in the spring semester. The completed project must be signed by all readers and handed in no later than 5 PM on Friday the thirteenth week of the semester. Exact dates, correlating to your specific graduation plans, are found on the Honors College web site.
The final project is to be delivered to the Honors Office with a cover approval page signed by the committee and the Computer Science department chair, with a space for the signature of the Master of the Honors Program. Projects which do not conform to Senior Honors Project Guidelines as presented in the Honors Program Manual will not be counted towards University Scholar recognition.
Further questions regarding the Honors Research Project in Computer Science should be directed either to the Honors College or the Computer Science department’s Honors Faculty Advisor.