Dr. Needham’s Research Report Milestones

The following are the milestones for all students enrolled in SI495/SI496 with me as their advisor.


Topic Research

You'll need to research your paper’s topic to make sure it is current and scholarly.  "Current" means that you can find at least five articles published within the last three years from publications that are directly related to your topic.  The five current publications are also required to be “scholarly”, which means that they are from scientific journals or books (books are more difficult due to the last-three-years rule).  You may use citations from the Internet as long as they are properly cited, but these do not count towards the “current and scholarly requirement”.  To research your topic, both search the Internet and go to the library and search through recent issues of Communications of the ACM and IEEE Computer magazines for articles related to your research.  Look up the references cited in those papers as needed.


Weekly Research Summary.


Due to me by 2200 every Sunday evening via e-mail.  Status report should be roughly 1-2 single spaced pages in length and must include the sections described here.



A sample research paper is available to help give you a feel for what you are producing in terms of the research paper requirement.

A sample presentation is available to help give you a feel for what you are producing in terms of the required presentation.


Research Paper Timeline


In order to provide timely feedback to you as you develop your paper, I am providing the following milestone schedule. Note that the dates indicated in the below are the latest time by which a milestone must be completed so that you do not fall behind in your paper’s development.  You are free (and encouraged) to complete any and all milestones early. 



Semester Timeline

Milestone Overview

Milestone Description



Topic Research

See “Topic Research” section above.


By 1500 on the Monday SIX WEEKS PRIOR to the end of the semester

Initial Research, 

Proposed Outline (Include a one to two paragraph discussion of EACH section and subsection in your outline).

Provide a one page (double-spaced 11-pt times new roman font, 1 inch margins) topic discussion which indicates what you intend to focus your paper on.  Note that the “tone” of the paper is to be dry, matter-of-fact, and (frankly) boringly informative. Read other scholarly works related to your focus to get a feel for the tone a research paper should have.  In addition to your one page topic discussion, include a proposed outline of the main sections of your paper, with a one to two paragraph discussion for each section and subsection describing what the contents of the section/subsection will be.


Provide at least five references from scholarly works less than three years old, and a discussion of how you plan to cite them in your paper. 


For the outline, use something along the lines of the following format, with a progressive numbering scheme for each section and subsection after the abstract.  The section titles for sections 1, 2, and 6 are fairly standard so you can use them in your outline. You should create your own focus-tailored titles for sections 3, 4, and 5. Note that your particular focus may or may not have some of the below sections, and may have additional sections or subsections, so use the below as a guideline only.


A sample past research paper is available to help give you a feel for what you are producing.


--------         suggested outline      --------



Shoot for 200 words or less of an active-voiced paragraph that briefly summarizes the problem, the findings, and the conclusions of your paper. The abstract should give enough information so that the reader knows whether or not he or she wants to read the entire paper.  Many people find it useful to write the abstract last, after you have finished the bulk of the paper, so that it accurately reflects the content of the paper.   Note that no citations are used in the abstract and that the abstract is on its own page.


Here is a sample abstract: “Access to the National Imagery and Mapping Agency’s (NIMA’s) Vector Product Format data is essential to the evolution of digital mapping products. Currently, users of NIMA data must have software to view the data resident on their own computer systems, and must obtain the data on CD-ROM or other storage media.   This paper examines the design of an object-oriented (OO) digital mapping database prototype, called the Geospatial Information Database (GIDB).  The GIDB provides accessibility to NIMA mapping data over the Internet in a CORBA-compliant manner.  We describe a software solution to create a thin client product to enable viewing and manipulation of NIMA mapping data, and utilize n-tier concepts for data manipulation on the server side. We discuss difficulties encountered during the modeling and implementation stages of our development of the GIDB, as well as examine improvements made to increase the efficiency of our system.” 


Table of Contents


List each section and subsection number and title and the page number it appears on.  The table of contents is also on its own page.


1.     Introduction

The introduction should be one to two paragraphs long. It should clearly identify what your paper is about, and expands on the problem summary given in the abstract.  End the intro section with an overview of the rest of your paper, such as: The remainder of this paper is organized as follows.  In Section 2 we cover background information and previous work related to the XYZ protocol. In Section 3 we describe the XYZ protocol.  In Section 4 we analyze the XYZ protocol with a particular emphasis on … etc.


2.     Background

Start each interior section with an introductory paragraph that gives the reader a hint of what they are about to read. Some thing like, “In this section we examine the basis for protocols, hardware support needed for protocols, and discuss existing protocols similar to our approach.”


2.1  SubSection Title

A main issue that needs to be discussed before discussing your focus


2.2  SubSection Title

Another main issue that needs to be discussed before discussing your focus


2.3  SubSection Title (Usually, Related Work)

Discuss other issues that are related to what you are focusing on.  Point out how each related work topic is similar and different from your focus.  This is a good place to draw in your minimum of five scholarly related works.



3       Research Goals

Introductory paragraph discussing what your goals were in undertaking this research


3.1  SubSection Title

First main point you need to make


3.2  SubSection Title

Second main point you need to make


3.3  SubSection Title

Third main point you need to make



4.  Research Methodologies

Introductory paragraph discussing how you accomplished what you set out to undertake in section 3.  Focus just on what happened during your research; put all analysis items in section 5.


4.1  SubSection Title

First main point you need to make


4.2  SubSection Title

Second main point you need to make


4.3  SubSection Title

Third main point you need to make


5       Analysis

Introductory paragraph


5.1  SubSection Title

Comparison of what you have learned from your focus as compared with issues you discussed in the background section


5.2  SubSection Title

Your observations based on what you have learned from your focus


6       Future Work

Introductory paragraph


6.1  SubSection Title

Existing things that are going on that would be of benefit based on what you have learned


6.2  SubSection Title

Your suggestions for improving things based on what you have learned


7       Conclusions

Revisit the main points of your paper

Overview your main analysis points, results, observations

Overview your suggestions for further work that you or someone else may want to undertake someday as a result of reading your paper.

Note that some people read the conclusion of a paper first to see what it is that the author hopes to convince people of by reading the paper.




Adhere to the standard Communications of the ACM format for references.  This means that references should cited in a numbered list at the end of the paper.  Number the references cited in your paper as listed alphabetically by first author’s last name, not in their order of appearance in your paper.   Use the reference numbers in square brackets as you cite them in the body of the paper.  Something like: “The US Navy’s current approach [1] utilizes a thin client with …” Use the standard Communications of the ACM format for the references themselves.  The order of the references should be alphabetical according to the last name of the first author. Use commas for multiple references [3,4].  See any paper in any issue of the Communications of the ACM issue for a more complete example.


1.     K. Shaw, M. Cobb, M. Chung, and D. Arctur, Managing the US Navy’s First OO Digital Mapping Project, IEEE Computer, 29(9), 1996, 69-74.

  1.  S. Urban, L. Fu, and J. Shah, The Implementation and Evaluation of the Use of CORBA in an Engineering  Design Application, Software-Practice and Experience, John Wiley & Sons, 1999, 1313-1338.



By 1500 on the Monday FIVE WEEKS PRIOR to the end of the semester

5 Page Rough Draft

Provide a rough draft of at least 5 pages.  Your rough draft is to have (none of which count in the 5 page minimum) a title page, abstract, table of contents, and bibliography with at least 5 references from scholarly works less than 3 years old.  Format the rough draft as per the sample paper provided.


By 1500 on the Monday THREE WEEKS PRIOR to the end of the semester

10 Page Rough Draft

Provide a 10 page rough draft of your paper.


By 1500 on the Monday TWO WEEKS PRIOR to the end of the semester.

Final Draft

Provide a final draft of your paper.


By 1500 on the Monday ONE WEEK PRIOR end of the semester

Rough Draft of Presentation/Visual Aid (poster)

Provide a rough sketch of the visual aid (poster) you plan to use in your oral presentation as well as at least 6 slides that you plan to use in your presentation.  See the presentation requirements discussed in the next milestone.


By 1500 5 working days prior to your presentation date

Final Presentation .ppt file

E-mail me your presentation .ppt file. This is to be your complete, ready-to-go presentation with all figures and diagrams included (see below).


Generally the first working day after the last day of classes

Presentation and Poster


Presentation Specifics


A sample presentation is available to help give you a feel for what you are producing in terms of the required presentation.

Overview: You must deliver a 15-20 minute oral presentation of your research, using presentation software (eg. power point).  The presentation must concisely, yet comprehensively, cover the main ideas presented in the corresponding written work, and must demonstrate basic public speaking skills including: eye contact with the audience, effective articulation, clear enunciation, positive body language/gesticulations, appropriate volume, smooth transition of thought/ideas, and minimal use of non-word slurs such as uh or um.

Visual Aid Poster: You must provide a single poster containing your name and research paper title. Additionally, the poster should be a self-explanatory, standalone overview of the main ideas of your research, and should include appropriate graphics and images to assist in the viewers understanding of your research’s content.  The CS department will retain this poster for archival purposes.  Get assistance with this poster from MSC.

Presentation Content:  Include the following in your power point presentation:


-        a title slide 


-        an introductory slide (include a discussion of why you chose this particular topic),


-        a background slide (or two), be sure to discuss your related work in these slides.                


-        several slides that give a detailed discussion of the main points of your paper, supported by appropriate data, graphics and images. Draw heavily upon your paper for the content of these slides, and include all pictures/figures from your paper in your presentation.


-        and a conclusions slide (include your suggestions for continuing the work and tips/advise you have for midshipmen that undertake a similar topic in the future).