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  • GUIDELINES ON WRITING A GRADUATE PROJECT THESIS

    SHAN BARKATAKI, COMPUTERSCIENCE DEPARTMENT,CSUN

    1. PURPOSE AND INTRODUCTION

    Thepurposeofthisdocumentistoprovideguidelinesonwritingagraduateprojectthesis.Itisnotintendedtobeusedinwritingathesisdescribingtheoreticalresearchwork.

    Agraduateprojectthesisrepresentstheculminatingexperienceresultingfromyourgraduatestudy.Yourthesisisthemostimportantartifactyoucreateinearningyourdegree.Itwillpersistinperpetuity,longafteryourgraduation.Itisthethesisthatprovesthatyouhavemasteryinthesubjectmatter.Thethesisdemonstratesthatyouarecapableoffindingsolutionstosignificantproblems.Itshowsthatyoucanperformcriticalanalysisandmakesoundtechnicaldecisionsbasedonthefindings.Mostimportantly,thethesisisproofthatyoucandescribetheprojectrelatedactivitiesandresultsinawellwrittenscholarlypublication,whichisyourthesis.

    1. YourthesisispublishedbytheCSUNLibrary.Itisavailableforinspectionbyanyone,throughouttheworld.Eachgraduatethesisbearsthesignatureofthisdepartment.Therefore,yourthesismustbewrittentoastandardconsistentwithpublishedtechnicalworkinprofessionalpublications,suchas:conferenceproceedings,SIGpublications,andscholarlyjournals.

    2. Asuccessfuldemonstrationofthesoftwareproductyouhaveproducedisclearlyveryimportant;adefenseisnotcompletewithoutsuchademonstration.However,thedemonstrationisseenonlybythecommittee.Inreality,youearnyourdegreewiththethesis,notwiththedemonstration.Manystudentsspendmoretimeandenergyingettingthedemonstrationreadyandnotnearlyenoughinwritingthethesis.Thatisapoorchoicethatoftenresultsindelayedgraduation.Itisimportantthatyouscheduleenoughtimeforwritingthethesis.

    3. Bythetimeyoustartwritingthethesis,youshouldhaveacquiredsufficientwritingskillsinEnglish.Thepreparationsection,onthefollowingpage,providessomeideasonhowyoumightaccomplishthis.

    2. DISCLAIMER

    ThisisaWorkinProgress(WIP)product;itisnotthefinalrelease.Whereas,theguidelinesinthisdocumentprovideusefulinformation,ithasnotyetbeenapprovedbythecomputersciencedepartment.Untilthisdocumentisapprovedandreleasedbythedepartment,pleaseseekguidanceandadvicefromyourcommitteechaironhowyoushouldwriteyourthesis.

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    3. PREPARATION

    1. Writingyourgraduateprojectthesisisnosimpletask.Ittakesmonthsofpreparationandmeticuloushardwork.Youneedtoworkcloselywithyourthesisadvisoringettingthethesisreadyforcommitteereviewanddefense.Itisnotuncommonforastudenttoproduce4to5draftsbeforearrivingatacopyreadyfordistributiontothecommittee.

    2. ThethesismustbewritteningrammaticallycorrectEnglishandbeeasytoread.Donotexpectyourcommitteechairtocopyedityourwork.S/heistheretogiveyouguidanceontechnicalissuesonthesiswriting,suchas:thesisoutlineandtopicstobecovered.S/heisnottheretoprovideyoulessonsinwritingEnglish.Ifthedraftyousubmittothecommitteechairisnotofreviewablequality,thens/hemayreturnitforyoutoreviseandresubmit.

    3. IfyouareanESLstudent,oryouneedtohoneyourwritingskills,thenconsidertakingwritingclasses.PassingtheUDWPEalonedoesnotprepareyouforwritingathesis.Seekoutclassesonwritingtechnicalpublications.Alsolookforonlineresourcesonthesiswriting.TheCSUNEnglishdepartmentprovidesindividual30minutewritingreviewsessionsonproperuseofgrammarandsentencestructure.Agraduatestudentcanbookonesuchreviewsessionperweek.CheckwiththewritinglabintheEnglishdepartment.Sometimes,youmayfindtutorswhowillcopyedityourworkforcorrectuseofEnglish.Donotasktherevieweroranyexternalconsultanttowritethethesisforyou.Thatconstitutesacademicdishonesty.Anylevelofacademicdishonestycanhavesevereconsequences,includingtheneedforyoutostartyourprojectoverwithonanewtopicandanewproposal.

    4. Carefullyconsiderthewordprocessingandotherutilitytools,suchasgrammarandstylecheckers,thatyouwillbeusingtowritethethesis.Arrangetolearnthetechniquesforusingthetooleffectively.Toolissuesareaddressedfurtherinsection7.

    4. FIRST, CREATE AN OUTLINE

    1. Planoutthethesischaptersandcreateanoutlinelistingthechaptersyouwillhaveinthethesis.Asuggestedlistofchaptersappearsbelow.Thisispreliminary;youcanchangethechapterlistasthethesisdevelops.SuggestionsforwhatshouldbecoveredinthesechaptersappearinSection6,DETAILEDSTRUCTUREANDCONTENTSOFTHETHESIS.

    1.1. Abstract:Asummaryoftheobjectivesandaccomplishments.Typically1pagelong.

    1.2. Objectives:Describetheproblemthatyousetouttosolveandthesolutionsyouhaveachieved.

    1.3. Introduction:Describethebackgroundoftheprojectwork.Establishthecontext.Discusswhythisproblemisimportant.Brieflydescribethedevelopmentprocessyouwillfollow.

    1.4. LiteratureReview:Provideasurveyandacriticalreviewofrelatedpriorwork.

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    1.5. AnalysisandRequirements:Describetheproblemanalysis,enhancedwithananalysismodelinUML.Specifytheresultingsetofsystemlevelandsoftwarelevelrequirements.

    1.6. Design:DescribethearchitecturaldesignandthedetaileddesignenhancedwithUMLmodeldiagrams.Describeyourrationaleforthedesigndecisionswithsupportingdatacollectedfromtradeoffstudies.Describethespecifictoolsandtechniquesusedinsubchapters.

    1.7. Implementation:Describetheimplementationapproach.Describesoftwarereuse,designpatterns,specialcodingtechniques,etc.Describespecialtoolsused,ifany.

    1.8. Testing:Describethetestingapproach.Describesampletestplansandtestresults.

    1.9. Toolsandtechnologies:Describethetoolsandtechnologiesusedinaccomplishingtheprojectinthecontextoftheprojectactivities.Thiscanbeintegratedintotopics1.5to1.8

    1.10. Conclusions:

    1.11. Appendices:

    2. Getthethesisoutlineapprovedbyyourcommitteechair.

    5. MASTERY

    1. SuccessfulcompletionofagraduateProjectdemonstratesthatyouhavetheabilitytoanalyzeanddevelopsolutionstoaproblemofsignificantcomplexityandstature.TheworkyouundertakemustbeofmuchhigherdegreeofcomplexitythantheprojectsdoneinComp380,480,or490classes.Simplyproducingasoftwareapplication,usingarunofthemillmethodandanadhocprocess,doesnotdemonstratemasteryworthyofagraduateproject.Throughyourproject,youmustdemonstratemasteryofthecurrentsoftwareengineeringandcomputersciencedisciplines.Useofcurrenttechniquesandtechnologiesincompletingtheprojectworkisimportant.

    2. Inwritingthethesis,youneedtodescribetheproblemsandthesolutionsinanorganizedandclearmanner.Youshouldusestandardsoftwareengineeringandcomputersciencenomenclature.Ifindoubt,consulttheIEEEStandardGlossaryofSoftwareEngineeringTerminology(No610.121990)ortheSoftwareEngineeringBookofKnowledge(SWEBOK).BoththesereferencesareavailableonlinethroughtheCSUNlibrary.

    3. Today,UMLisacceptedasthemodelinglanguageofchoiceinbothcomputerscienceandsoftwareengineering.Therefore,useofstandardUMLisstronglyrecommended.Avoidusingyourownadhocdrawingconventions.IfyoudontknowUML,thenlearnit.Attendaclass,ortakeoneofthemanyonlinetutorialsavailableintheInternet.AtCSUN,UMLmodelingisintroducedinComp380;advancedUMLiscoveredinComp586.ProducemodelelementsthatadheretothecoreUMLsyntacticalandsemanticrules.Thiswillallowthereadertoreadandinterpretthemeaningsofthedrawingsintheanalysisanddesignmodels.

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    4. Stronglyrecommendusingamodern,UMLcapableCASEtocreatetheUMLmodeldiagrams.ACASEtoolwillmakeiteasytocreatethemodeldiagrams,maintainaconsistentmodel,andwill(often)guardagainstbreakingUMLsyntacticalandsemanticrules.TherearemanyfreeCASEtoolsavailable,suchas:Visio2010viaMSDNAA,ArgoUML,VisualParadigm,andPoseidon.FindoneCASEtoolthatyoulike,learnitwell,anduseitcapturetheanalysisanddesignmodels.UseitasaCASEtool,notasadrawingtool,i.e.,followtherulesofUML.ManyCASEtoolsprovideacapabilityforgeneratingreportsdescribingthemodelinformationcapturedinthetool.Withsomeediting,youcanincorporatethesereportsintoyourthesis.

    6. DETAILED STRUCTURE AND CONTENTS OF THETHESIS

    Ingeneral,agraduatethesisshouldhavethefollowingchaptersandsections.Somechaptersaremandatory;otherswilldependuponthenatureofthework.Fillinthechaptersinthethesisoutlinethatyouhavealreadydeveloped,asdescribedinsection4.Eachchaptershouldelaborateononemajorconcept,suchaspriorwork,design,implementation,testing,toolsused,etc.

    6.1. Abstract

    Althoughitappearsfirst,planonwritingtheabstractlast.Theabstractisthehardestpartofthethesistowrite,anditisthepartmostreadersofthethesiswillreaditfirst.Theabstractshouldbeverywellwritten.Itshouldbeclear,easytoread,andtothepoint.Theabstractconveysthemostimportantmessagesregardingyourproject,suchas:whatyousetouttodo?Howdidyoudoit?Whatresultswereobtained?Youwillhaveamuchbettershotatwritingagoodabstractafteryouhavecompletedalltheotherpartsofthethesis.

    6.2. TableofContents(TOC)

    1. ThefollowingTOCsaremandatory.

    1.1. GeneralTOC:listingchapters,sections,andsubsectionstothelowestlevels.

    1.2. Listoffigures.

    1.3. Listoftables.

    2. ThepagenumbersineachTOCshouldbehyperlinkedtotheirtargets(sections,figures,tables).HyperlinkedpagenumbersshouldworkeveninaPDFformatdocument.IfyouareusingMicrosoftWord/OpenOfficeWriterthenstronglyrecommendusingtheTOCgenerationtool.

    6.3. ChapteronIntroduction

    1. Thischapterismandatoryand,ataminimum,shouldcoverthefollowingtopics:

    1.1. Introducethereadertotheparticularproblemyourprojectisattemptingtosolve.Mostprojectshavemultipleobjectives.Foreaseofcrossreferencing,itisagoodideatostatetheseinanumberedlist.Therestofthethesisdescribeshowyouhaveaccomplishedwhatyouhavedescribedastheobjectives.

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    1.2. Ingeneral,theobjectivesstatedinthethesisshouldmatchthosestatedintheprojectproposal.IftherearesubstantialdifferencesthenfilearevisedproposalwiththeGRIP.AlthoughtheGRIPproceduresdonotrequireit,youshouldadviseallcommitteemembersofthechangedproposal.

    1.3. Setthescenebyprovidingabackgroundforthework.Whyisthisworkimportantorinteresting?

    1.4. Writeasummaryoftheoverallapproach.Includebriefdescriptionsofthedevelopmentprocess,design,implementation,andtestingapproaches.

    1.5. Thetoolsandtechnologiesyouusedshouldbementionedherebutdescribedanddiscussedinlater,inachapterdealingwiththetechnicaldetails.

    1.6. Provideasynopsisofwhattheotherchapterscontain.Thesedescriptionsshouldbeverybrief,oneortwosentencesforeachchapter.

    2. BythetimethereaderhasfinishedreadingtheIntroductions/heshouldhaveaclearunderstandingoftheproblemyousetouttoaddressandhowithasbeensolved.

    6.4. ChapteronReviewofLiterature

    1. ThischapterismandatoryandisdifferentfromthebackgroundprovidedintheIntroduction.Thebackgroundprovidesgeneralinformation.Theliteraturereviewfocusesonissuesthataremorespecificallyrelatedtotheworkinyourproject.

    2. Describesimilarworkdonebyothersinthepastanddescribedintheliterature.Ifyoucannotfindpriorworkintheliterature,thenitismostlikelythattheworkyouaredescribingistoosimpletoqualifyasagraduateproject.

    3. Yourthesisneedstodemonstratethatyouhavedonealiteraturesearchandcompletedacriticalanalysisoftherelevantliteraturedescribingpriorworkinthefield.Demonstratethisbywritingsomediscussionsonwhatothershavedone,whattheyhaveachieved,andlimitationsoftheirwork.Iftheyexist,thenprovidereviewsofpriorworkintheliterature,thisshowsthatyouhavedoneacomprehensiveliteraturesearch.

    4. Donotcopyandpastetextfromtheliterature;paraphrasethecontentsinyourownwords.Referencesmustbecitedhereintheintroductionandeverywhereelseinthethesis.Donotjustprovideanumberlike[23].Saysomethingaboutthework.

    Example:JonesandBartletreportsthatuseofAgileprocessesreducedmeandevelopmenttimeingraduateprojectsbyapproximately12%[23].Kissingeropinedthattheseresultsneedverificationwithawidersample.HepointedoutthattheJonesandBartletstudywasbasedonresultsfromonlysixprojects[32].AfollowonstudybyJonesandBartletincludedover30graduateprojectsandsubstantiatedtheresultsreportedintheoriginalstudy[24].AnindependentstudybyReifer,involving27industrialprojects,claimsdevelopmentcostsavingof13%attributabletotheuseofAgilemethods[42].

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    6.5. TechnicalChapters

    Ingeneral,thechaptersdescribedinthefollowingsubsectionsareexpectedinathesisdescribingagraduateproject.Someofthelistedchaptersmaynotbeapplicabletoyourthesis,andadditionalchapterscoveringspecialtopicsmaybeneeded.Seekguidancefromyourcommitteechaironthechaptersyourthesisshouldcontain.Agoodapproachistodescribeeachmajorconcept/taskinaseparatechapter,anddescribeminorrelatedconceptsinsections/subsectionswithinthechapters.

    6.5.1. ChapteronDevelopmentProcess

    Describethedevelopmentprocessyoufollowed.Todemonstrateyourmasteryinsoftwareengineeringandcomputerscience,yourprojectshouldfollowastandardsoftwaredevelopmentprocess,ratherthananundefinedoradhocprocess.Generally,aprocessframedontheagiledevelopmentphilosophyworkswellforgraduateprojectsinsoftwareengineeringandcomputerscience.Ifyouchooseanagileprocess,thenbesuretodescribetheprocessyoufollowedformakingthemultipledeliveriesanddemonstrationstoyourcommitteechairorresearchgroup.Doinganiterativedevelopmentandmakingmultipledeliveriesisakeypracticeinanyagileprocess;ifyoudidnotdothisthentheprocesscannotbecalledagile.

    6.5.2. ChapteronAnalysisandRequirements

    Describehowyoudidrequirementselicitation,conductedtheanalysis,andarrivedatthespecifiedrequirements.Provideanalysismodels,notjustwords.Somesuggestedmodelelementsare:usecases,activitydiagrams,sequencediagrams,anddomainmodels.Theanalysismodelsshouldexpressthesystemarchitectureandthetoplevelbehavioralrequirements.Dontprovideasuperficialmodelwithjustoneortwocontextlevelusecasediagrams.

    6.5.3. ChapteronDesign

    Generallydescribethearchitecturaldesignmodelandthedetaileddesignmodelinseparatechapters.Always,discussthealternativesconsideredandtherationaleforthechoosingthesolutionsyouadopted.Describethearchitecturalanddetaileddesignmodelsinadisciplinedmannerusingbothtextandcomprehensivedesignmodels,ideallyexpressedinUML.UseofUMLishighlyrecommendedoverusingadhocoroldermodelingnotations.SuggestedUMLdesignmodelelementsare:classdiagrams,interactiondiagrams,structuredclasses,components,subsystems,anddeploymentmodels.ProducethemodeldiagramswithamodernCASEtool,notdrawingtools.Provideacomprehensivedesignmodelwithsufficientdesigninformation,notjustoneortwotoplevelmodeldiagrams.Notethattodescribeadesignadequatelyyoumustdescribebothitsstaticviewandthedynamicview.Thestaticviewincludeselementssuchas:classeswithinheritanceandaggregation,structuredclasses,interfaces,components,subsystems,anddeployment.Thedynamicviewincludes:activitydiagrams,sequenceorcommunicationdiagrams,andthestatemodel,whenappropriate.Rememberthat,inmostprojects,thedesignmodelisthemainaspectofyourwork,anditdeservesagooddealofyourattention.

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    6.5.4. ChapteronImplementation

    Describetheoverallstrategyforimplementationtasks,suchasincrementalbuilds,riskmitigationmeasures.Discussthereasonswhyyouchosethespecificprogramminglanguage,developmenttools,testingtools,andtheimplementationplatform.Discussstrategiesforreuseofexistingproductsandcomponents.Useofdesignpatternsintheimplementationdemonstratessophisticationinthesubjectmatterandishighlyencouraged.Generally,youdonotneedtoprovidesourcecodeinthethesis,unlessthatcodeiscentraltoyourthesis,e.g.ifyoucreatednewdesignpatternsandneedtodescribethelogicofthosedesignpatternsusingcode.However,notethatdescribingdesignlogicusingdetaileddesignmodelsdemonstratesahigherlevelofexpertisethanusingcodetodothesame.

    6.5.5. ChapteronTestingandValidation

    Describehowtestingandvalidationtaskswereperformed.Describetheplansandstrategiesusedinunittesting,integrationtestingandsystemtesting.Addressregressiontesting.Describethetestplansandprovidetestproceduresfortestingthecriticalfunctions.

    Describethetesttoolsyouused.Wheneverpossible,involvesomeoneelse,suchasfriendsandcolleagues,inthetestingandverificationprocess,andincludetheircommentsandobservations.

    Providetestmetrics,suchasnumberofdefectsfound,defectdensityofthediscovereddefects,codeandbranchcoveragemetrics.Ideallythereshouldbeananalysisdescribingthedefectinjectionanddiscoverycharacteristics,suchas:typesofdefects,injectionphasesanddiscoveryphases.

    Ifyourprojectservesanexternalcustomerthenyoumustinvolveendusers,selectedbythecustomer,inthetestingprocess.Examplesofsuchprojectsare:communityserviceprojects,projectfromyourplaceofwork,orprojectswithanexternalsponsor.Forgraduateprojectsinvolvingtheendusersinthetestingservesasanacceptablevalidationprocess.

    6.5.6. ChapteronToolsandTechnologiesUsed

    Describeanystateofthearttoolsandtechnologiesyouusedintheproject.THISSHOULDNOTBEATEXTBOOKLIKEDESCRIPTIONOFTHETECHNOLOGIES.Fillingupathesiswithdescriptionsoftoolsandtechnologiesthatarereadilyavailableinbooksorpublishedliteraturedoesnotaddanyvaluetothethesis.Youmustprovidesomediscussionsthatdemonstratethatyouhaveperformedsomecriticalanalysesofthesubjectmatter.

    Itisimportantthatyoudescribehowthetoolsandtechnologiesarebeingappliedtotheprojectyouhavecompleted.

    Youshouldincludesomediscussionsonevaluationofalternatetoolsandtechniques,providecomparisonsandstaterationaleforchoosingtheonesyoudid.

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    6.6. Conclusions

    Intheconclusionchaptersummarizetheproblemyousetouttosolve,describewhatyouhaveachieved,andprospectforfuturework.

    1. Referbacktotheproblemsyouencounteredandhowyouovercamethose,orfoundworkarounds.Alwaysreferbacktothemainbodyofthethesisforthedetaileddescriptions;theconclusionsectionshouldnotcontaindetaileddescriptionsoftheproblemsorthesolutions.

    2. Addresshowyouhavemettheoriginalobjectivesoftheproject(i.e.proposalcontents).

    3. Discusspotentialfuturework.

    6.7. Appendices

    UseAppendicestopresentmaterialthatwillinterrupttheflowifincludedinthemainbodyofthethesis.Typicalcontentsofappendicesinclude:Code,datatables,detailedanalysisanddesignmodels.Ifausermanualiscalledfor,thenprovideitinanappendix.

    6.8. Bibliography

    1. EverycitationmadeinthebodyofthethesismustappearintheBibliography.Similarly,everyitemlistedintheBibliographymustbecitedinthebodyofthethesis.

    2. Thecommitteemayusethelistofreferencesasayardsticktoassesshowwellyouhaveresearchedthefieldbeforesettingouttodoyourproject.Thecommitteemaylookforcompletenessandalsoaccuracyofthereferences.Errorinthebibliographywillneedtobecorrectedbeforeathesisisapproved.

    3. Followasinglestandardmethodforcitingandlistingboththeprintreferencesandtheonlinereferences.Therearemanydifferentformatsforcitingandlistingreferences,suchas:APA,MLA,ACMstyle,IEEEstyle,etc.Chooseoneandfollowitconsistentlythroughoutthethesis.Notethatthereisastandardmethodforlistingonlinereferences,listingjusttheURLisnotsufficient.

    4. Today,mostprintpublications,suchasjournalarticlesandconferencepapers,alsoexistintheweb,typicallyindigitallibrariesorintheauthorswebsites.Whenlistingreferencestosuchprintedsources,providereferencestotheoriginalprintedsource,nottheonlinesources.

    5. Ingeneral,publicationsthatarenotpeerreviewed,suchasblogs,arenotcrediblesourcesofreference.CitationsfromWikipediaaremarginallyacceptablebutshouldbeavoidedifpossible.ThisisbecausetheWikipediareviewprocessisnotaswellcontrolledasinprofessionaljournalsandinproceedingsfromconferencesorganizedbyprofessionalinstitutes.TechnicalpublicationsfromwellestablishedandrecognizedorganizationslikeIBM,Microsoft,Apple,Oracle,Motorola,etc.aregenerallyacceptable.

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    6. Youshouldhavereadeveryreferenceditemyoulistinthebibliographyandeveryiteminthebibliographyshouldbeappropriatelycitedinthebodyofthethesis.

    7. IfyouusedtheCitationandBibliographyTools,thenyoucanautogeneratethebibliography.Thiswillsaveyoualotofworkandtime.

    6.9. OtherSections

    Thefollowingsectionsarehighlydesirable,becausetheygreatlyimprovethereadabilityofthethesis.

    1. Glossaryofterms.

    2. Listofabbreviations.

    7. USE A MODERN WORD PROCESSOR AND A STYLE BASED DOCUMENT TEMPLATE

    1. Unlessyourcommitteechairdirectsyoutodootherwise,stronglyrecommendusingamodernwordprocessorsuchasMicrosoftWord2007oralaterrelease.MicrosoftWordprovidescomprehensivefacilitiesforwritinglongdocumentsthatarehardtobeat.Thereallyusefulfeaturesinclude:planninganoutlineformanagingchapters,sectionsandsubsection;automaticsaves(sayevery10minutes)andrecovery,versioning.Abilitytousestylesseparatingcontentsfrompresentation.Toolsforautomaticgenerationofthetableofcontents,thebibliography,andaglossary.Abilitytocrossreferenceitemswithinthedocumentthatcanbeupdatedwithasingleclick.Abilitytoinsertfootnotesandendnotesthatmigrateautomaticallyasthedocumentchanges.

    2. Microsoftwordalsohaspowerfultoolsforelectronicreviewing,changetracking,andmergingofcommentsfrommultiplereviewers.

    3. AnotheradvantageofusingMicrosoftWordisthatmanyCASEtoolsprovideautomateddocumentgeneration.Typically,thesedocumentsareproducedinMicrosoftWordformat,allowingyoutoedittheautogeneratedtextanddrawingsreadyforinsertionintothethesis.

    4. HowtoobtainMicrosoftOffice2010

    4.1. MicrosoftprovidesfreecloudbasedaccesstoOffice2010throughitsWindowsLiveSkyDrivetechnology.http://explore.live.com/windowsliveskydriveRetrievedJune8,2011

    4.2. StudenteditionsofOffice2010canbeboughtanddownloadedforhomeusefrommanyMicrosoftauthorizedvendors,ordirectlyfromMicrosoft.Thecurrentcostis$79.99.SearchforMicrosoftStudentOffice2010http://www.microsoft.com/student/en/us/software/office2010.aspxRetrievedJune8,2011.

    4.3. MostdepartmentanduniversitycomputersinthelabsprovideMicrosoftWord;youcanusethesetowriteyourthesis.

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    4.4. Asanalternative,youcantryusingOpenofficeWriter,whichprovidescompatibilitywithMicrosoftWord.However,someoftheadvancedfeaturesarenotcompatible.SearchforOpenOffice.orgDownloadhttp://download.openoffice.org/RetrievedJune8,2011.

    5. Stronglyrecommendusingadocumenttemplate.Youcancreateastylebasedthesistemplatefromscratch;howeveryoucansavetimebyreusingatemplatefromanexistingthesis.Withyourcommitteechairspermission,getacopyofanexistingthesisthathasusedastylebasedtemplate.Createaskeletaltemplateforyourthesisbydeletingallexistingcontents,butkeepingallthestyleelements.Startwritingyourownthesisusingthisnewtemplate.Youcanchangethetemplateasthethesisdevelops.

    6. StronglyrecommendusingtheMicrosoftWordstylefeature.UseofstylesissimilartousingCascadingStyleSheets(CSS)increatingwebpages.Stylesseparatetheconcernsofformattingfromthecontents.Usestyleswhencreatingsectionheadings,figurecaptions,tablecaptions,lists,tables,andofcoursethetextinthethesis.IfyouwritethethesisusingasuitabletemplatethatusesstylesthenyouwillbeabletobuiltintoolsinMicrosoftOfficetogeneratethetableofcontents,thelistoffigures,thelistoftables,theglossary,andeventhebibliographyinAPAorMLAformat.

    7. Inchoosingatool,youshouldalsodeterminethecommitteemembersneedsforreviewingthethesis.MemberswhodoelectronicreviewsmayinsistongettingathesisinMicrosoftWordorOpenOfficeWriterformat.

    8. PleasenotethatitisverycumbersometodoelectronicreviewofdocumentsinPDFformat.

    8. GENERALGUIDELINES FOR THE THESIS CONTENTS

    1. Thereisnorulegoverningthelengthofathesis.Athesisdoesnothavetobe60pageslong!Donotfillupathesiswithirrelevantmaterialjusttomakeitlong.

    2. Donotmixunrelatedissuesinthesamechapter.Forexample,inthedesignchapter,donotdiscusstestingissues.Oneexceptiontothisiswhenargumentsareneededtojustifyactionsrelatedtothecurrenttopic.

    2.1. Example:Whenaspecificdesigndecisionwasmadetosimplifysomeimplementationrelatedproblem.Insuchacase,itisreasonabletodiscusstherelevantimplementationissuesinthedesignsection.

    3. Inathesis,everysentenceshouldhaveapurposeandeverysentenceshouldsaysomethingrelevanttotheprojectwork.Besuccinctinwhatyouwrite.Avoidvagueramblingtext.

    4. Yourthesisisapieceofscientificwork.Itshouldnotcontainanyunsubstantiatedopinionsorclaims.Everytechnicalclaimmadeorresultcitedmustbesubstantiatedwithcrediblereferences,orresultofsomereasoneddiscussioncontainedinthethesis.

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    5. Athesisisnotaplatformformakingspeculativecomments,orformakingpredictionsthatarenotgroundedinresultsfrompublishedscientificwork.

    6. Athesisshouldnothaveanytutorialtext;itisnotatextbook.Ifausermanualiscalledfor,thenprovideitinanappendix.

    7. Throughoutthethesisusestandardsoftwareengineeringorcomputerscienceterminology.Providedefinitionsofuncommontermsinaglossary.Seesection6.9

    8. Useaconsistentnamingconvention.Donotrefertothesameconceptorthingbydifferentnamesindifferentpartsofthethesis.

    9. GENERALFORMATTING GUIDELINES

    1. ReadandfollowthestyleguidelinesproducedbytheGraduateStudies,ResearchandInternationalPrograms(GRIP)office.TheGRIPguidelinesfocusontheform,notthecontentsandhavesomestrangerules,butyouneedtoadheretothoserules.

    2. Provideheadingsforallchapters,sectionsandsubsectionsandprefixeachheadingwithasectionnumber.ThisiseasytodoifyouuseastylebasedtemplateinMicrosoftWordorOpenOfficeWriter.

    3. Forimprovedreadabilitytheheadingsshouldbeleftjustifiedratherthancenterjustified.

    4. Numberallfiguresandtables.Itisbesttousealocalizednumberingschemewherethefigure/tablenumbersareprefixedwiththesectionnumber.Thismakesiteasytolocatetheitemwhenreferencedfromelsewherewithinthedocument.

    4.1. Examples:Thetwofirstfiguresinsection2.0willbenumberedFigure2.01andFigure2.22.SimilarlyFigure3.13wouldbethe3rdfigureinsection3.1.Table3.33wouldbethe3rdtableinsection3.3.

    5. Providecaptionsforallfiguresandtables.Example:Figure2.3.1:TheSystemContextDiagram.Itiscommonforfigurecaptionstoappearbelowandtablecaptionstoappearabove.

    6. IfyouareusingWordorOpenOfficeWriter,thenusestylestomarkthefigureandtablecaptions.ThiswillenableyoutoautogeneratetheListofFiguresandtheListofTables.

    7. Figures,tables,andtheirassociatedcaptionsshouldbecentrallyjustified.

    8. Ifyouareprovidingalistofitems,thenuseanumberedlist,notbulletedlist.Itiseasiertoreferenceaniteminanumberedlist.

    9. Followaconsistentmethodforcitingreferencessuchas:theAPA,MLA,ACMstyle,orIEEEstyle.

    9.1. IfyouareusingMicrosoftWord,orOpenOfficeWriter,thenconsiderusingtheCitationandBibliographyTool.YouwillthenbeabletogeneratethebibliographyautomaticallyinAPAorMLAstyle.

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    9.2. StronglyrecommendusingtheWord/WriteCrossReferencesToolformanagingallinternalreferences.Youwillthenbeabletoautomaticallyupdatethecrossreferencesevenasthethesisdevelopsandthecrossreferenceditemschangetheirnumbers.

    9.3. Useofthesetoolssavesagreatdealoftimeandresultsinathesiswherethecrossreferencesandreferencecitationsaremoreaccurate.

    9.4. Therearemanyfreeonlinetutorialsonhowtousethesetools;findoneandlearntousethem.

    10. Whencrossreferencing,insteadofwritingAspreviouslystated.,provideacrossreferencenumbertothereferencedsection,figure,ortable;onemorereasontousethe(Word/Writer)CrossReferencingTool.

    11. Expandallacronymsonfirstuse.Itisagoodideatolistallacronymsinalistofabbreviations.Seesection6.9.

    11.1. Example:GraduatestudentsshouldbefamiliarwiththeElectronicThesisDocument(ETD)system.

    12. Allfiguresandtablesshouldbereferencedinthebodyofthethesisusingtheircaptions.

    12.1. Bemindfulofthelanguageyouuse.Whenreferencingafigure,write,TheinitializationlogicisillustratedinFigure3.21:SystemInitializationratherthanFigure3.21illustratestheinitializationlogic.Why?Afigure,byitself,doesnotillustrateanything,rathersomethingisillustratedinafigure.Useasimilarlanguagewhenreferencingatable.Picky,butprecise.

    13. Ifyouneedtoincludediagramorillustrationcopiedfromsomeotherdocument,thencitethesourcewithareferencenumberintheFigurecaptionandalsointhetextthatintroducesthediagramorillustration.

    13.1. Example:Harperreportstheresultsfromastudythatexaminedtherelationshipbetweensoftwarestructuralcomplexityandsoftwarequality[31].TherelationshipisillustratedinFigure3.41:DesignComplexityandResidualDefectDensity.

    13.2. Thefigurecaptionwouldread

    Figure3.41:DesignComplexityandResidualDefectDensity[31].

    14. Donotcopyandpastediagramsthatareblurry.Redrawthediagraminstead.Youshouldcitereferences,evenifyouredrawthediagram,unlessyoumakesubstantialchanges.Thisguidelineappliestoallcutandpasteitems,includinggraphs,andtables.

    14.1. Donotincludeanyartwork,suchasphotographs,thatareblurry,ordifficulttointerpret.

  • GuidelinesonWritingaGraduateProjectThesis(DRAFTRev1June9,2011)

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    10. ELIMINATEPLAGIARISM

    1. Theremustbenoplagiarisminagraduatethesis.Thecomputersciencedepartmenthaszerotoleranceagainstsubmissionofanyworkcontaininganyamountofplagiarizedmaterial.FollowtheguidelinesstatedintheCSUNcataloginthesectionnamedAcademicdishonesty.Theseguidelinespreemptanyotherideasthatyoumighthaveonwhatconstitutesplagiarism.Pleasefollowtherulesstatedthere,especiallyonquotingsourcesandparaphrasingcontentswrittenbyothers.Consequencesofsubmittingplagiarizedworkisveryserious,includingstartingtheprojectoverwithadifferenttopic.

    2. Doasimilaritycheckofyourthesisusingwww.Turnitin.comanduseittoeliminateallplagiarizedmaterial.AskyourcommitteechairforaTurnitinaccount.Withquotedtextandbibliographyexcluded,thesimilarityindexshouldbelessthan10%.TurnitinsometimesflagsURLsasplagiarizedtext,butyoucanignorethosefindings.

    11. WRITING STYLE

    1. Writeshortsentencesinactivevoiceinplainlanguage.Eachsentenceshouldaddressasingletopic.

    2. Writeshort,focused,andcoherentparagraphs.Eachparagraphshouldhaveaclearlystatedtopicsentencethatdescribesthemainissuecoveredintheparagraph.Therestofthesentencesshouldprovidediscussionsonthetopicsentence,oranswerthequestionraisedinthetopicsentence.

    3. Readeachparagraphaloudandlisten.Doesitsoundright?Isthesentencestructureclumsy?Isitdifficulttounderstand?Listentothesentencesasyoureadthemaloudwouldyouspeaklikethiswhenmakingaformalpresentationinclass?Reviseandeditasneeded.

    4. Doagrammarandstylecheckusingoneofthetoolslistedinsection13

    12. GENERALISSUES

    12.1. CriticalAnalysis

    Criticalanalysisskillsaretaughtinallgraduatelevelclasses.Thethesisdemonstratingyourculminatingexperiencemustexhibityourabilitytodocriticalanalysis.Evidenceofcriticalanalysescanbeplacedinaseparatechapter.Alternatively,thecriticalanalysescanbeintegrateddirectlyintothevarioustechnicalchaptersdescribinganalysis,design,implementation,andtesting.Inthetechnicalchaptersdescribehowyouconsideredalternativesandselectedtheonesyoudid.Giverationaleforthechoicesyoumade.Amastersthesismustdemonstratethatyouarecapableofmakingsoundtechnicaldecisionsbasedonresultsofcriticalanalysis.Describeanytechnicalproblemsyouencounteredandhowyouovercamethoseorfoundworkarounds.

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    12.2. TakeCreditForYourWork

    Throughoutthethesis,andespeciallyinthechaptersdescribinganalysisanddesign,clearlystatewhatyouhaveachieved.Takecreditforsuccesses;describelessonslearnedfromunsuccessfuloutcomes,includingchangeofplan/approachetc.Addresswhatwouldhavehappenedifyouweretouseadifferenttoolortechnique.Addresswhatproblemswerecausedbytheneedtouselegacyproducts,ifany.Whenappropriate,describeproblemscausedbytheneedtousespecifictools,platforms,hardware,etc.Withthebenefitofthehindsight,discusshowwouldyoudothingsdifferently.Suggestfuturework.

    13. SOME USEFULRESOURCES

    (Thispartisincomplete;Iwouldwelcomesuggestionsonadditionalresources)

    Youmayfindsomeofthefollowingassetshelpful.Thecommercialproductsareprovidedforinformationonly;nonearespecificallyendorsedorpromoted.

    StyleandGrammarChecker

    1. WritingEnhancementSoftwarereviewRetrieved:June8,2011.AgoodsourceforcheckingEnglishgrammarandwritingstylehttp://writingenhancementsoftwarereview.toptenreviews.com/

    2. WhiteSmokeGrammartoolhttp://www.whitesmoke.comRetrievedJune8,2011

    3. EnglishSoftwarehttp://www.englishsoftware.org/RetrievedJune8,2011

    BooksandArticlesonThesisWriting

    1. Trimble,JohnR.WritingWithStyle:ConversationsontheArtofWriting(3rd.Edition).Longman,NewYork:2010

    2. PurdueOnlineWritingLabRetrieved:June8,2011http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

    3. Zinsser,William.OnWritingWell,30thAnniversaryEdition:TheclassicGuidetoWritingNonfiction.HarperCollins,London:2006.

    4. AResearchGuideforStudentsRetrieved:June8,2011.http://www.aresearchguide.com/styleguides.html

    5. UniversityofWaterlooguideonThesisandLongDocuments.RetrievedJune8,2011http://ist.uwaterloo.ca/ew/thesis/ThesisCourse/WordTheses.html

    LearningTools

  • GuidelinesonWritingaGraduateProjectThesis(DRAFTRev1June9,2011)

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    1. Athesistemplatewithstylesdocumentthatcanserveasastartingpoint;itmustbemodifiedtomatchCSUNrequirements.Retrieved:June8,2011http://csce.uark.edu/~cwt/ADVISING/MSthesistemplate.doc

    2. Tutorialoncreatingnumberedsectionheadingsetc.inMicrosoftWord.RetrievedJune8,2011http://www.shaunakelly.com/word/numbering/numbering20072010.html

    14. CSUN ELECTRONIC THESIS DOCUMENT

    ThereisasystemforonlinesubmissionofproposalsandthefinalthesisdocumenttoGRIP.Youwillneedtoregistertotakeadvantageofthesefacilities.Detailsinhttp://etd.csun.edu

    15. COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS ON THIS GUIDELINE

    Commentsandsuggestionsonthisguidelinearewelcome.Pleaseemailtoshan@csun.edu

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