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Notes for the DT249 Final Year Project

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1 Notes for the DT249 Final Year Project

2 Project topics Choose a topic you like.
Choose a topic that suits your ambition, knowledge and skill set. Talk to lecturers. Look at samples in Webcourses. DT249 Project 2 2

3 Getting Started The project is a subject with an examination!
Look for marks. Get started straight away Decide on your topic; hound your supervisor for advice and guidance. Identify the necessary software/data as soon as possible. Get the software running as soon as possible. Make progress in 1st half of the 1st semester. Meet with your supervisor once every week, even if you feel that no great progress is being made. Use the module: Information Systems Research Practice Software and application. DT249 Project 3 3

4 Getting Finished DT249 Project 4 4

5 Getting Finished DT249 Project 5 5

6 Delivery of Honours Project?
To graduate with an honours you are required to pass a project module. Honours degree topics should be technical in nature i.e. produce a running program. The project should involve the analysis, design and implementation of a working system. The honours project also requires an element of reflection e.g. a comparison with other work in the area, choice to tools, a metric. Honours students tend to choose more complex topics. DT249 Project 6 6

7 Risks Project risk Employer risk Personal and college risk
Technology risk Software (applications and data), Hardware, communications Dissertation write-up risk

8 Risks Scope Resources Timescale Surveys risk Trying to do too much
Be conscious of the time allowed to complete the project Surveys risk Will the project success depend on a successful survey?

9 Structure of Project Spend some time structuring your work by dividing it into sections and subsections with a brief narrative describing each of the sections. For example, your project may contain any of the following tasks: analysis, design, literature review, testing, evaluating a technique, evaluating software, a comparison of languages or paradigms… DT249 Project 9 9

10 Study Time The thesis project is probably the most challenging part of your course. The project requires considerably more time and effort than any other module (at least 150 hours). It is not advisable to take the project and more than 2 other subjects. It can be HELL, or it can be FUN1 HELL, if you are not organised, hesitate FUN, if you get stuck in (mostly FUN) 1. Based on: Final Year Project: Induction Session by Martin Fahey DT249 Project 10 10

11 Delivery Dates You will deliver your project report and make your presentation in December 2014 (April or September for old regulations). You need to give careful consideration to your choice of delivery date. DT249 Project 11 11

12 Writing: Using Criteria
Often it is difficult to provide yes/no answers to research topics. So a set of criteria has to be applied to a given situation. When you have to evaluate a particular technology or method, you should draw up a list of criteria. A table is often quite useful for presenting these criteria or comparing two or more technologies /methods. DT249 Project 12 12

13 Writing: Flow Try to make your writing flow from its initial paragraph to the final paragraph. For example, you might want to describe how a particular technology would be used in a particular application. The flow here might be from a brief description of the technology, to its advantages and disadvantages, to a description of an application which can use the technology because of the advantages that the technology has over other technologies. DT249 Project 13 13

14 Writing: Paragraph The first sentence of a paragraph sets the stage by making a single point that the remainder of the paragraph’s sentences support. About 6-8 sentences per paragraph. Lead the reader on a path and help them reach the conclusion before you actually spell it out. DT249 Project 14 14

15 Writing: Paragraphs A paragraph should contain a single idea. A paragraph might describe:  a broad statement of the scope of the project; one criterion used to evaluate a technology; a brief description of the criteria that are to be used to judge a technology with following paragraphs containing more detailed material on each criterion; ensure continuity between sections and paragraphs. DT249 Project 15 15

16 Writing: Paragraphs A paragraph might describe:
an exception to a statement made in a previous paragraph; one of a number of conclusions that the report comes to; a description as to why a particular technology should be used in an application. focus on one big idea per section, one small idea per subsection DT249 Project 16 16

17 Writing: Valid statements
You should avoid unsubstantiated statements. A valid statement can be made based on: 1) an authoritative reference (by an acknowledged expert in the area) 2) an informed reasoned argument 3) a critical interpretation of a less reliable source (e.g. a web page or a newspaper article) 4) a self evident truth e.g. no system is perfect. DT249 Project 17 17

18 Writing: Include Summaries
You should distinguish between a summary and a conclusion. It is always a good idea to summarise the contents of your project in the first two or three paragraphs. State the scope of your project and your main conclusions. The material that is used in the summary should be built around a concise list of essential points, statements, or facts. Chapter summaries are useful. DT249 Project 18 18

19 Writing: You need Conclusions
You should state some conclusions and/or summaries at the end of your chapters and at the end of your report. You might be attempting to predict the impact of a technology or how a technology could be employed in certain types of application. A conclusion should be a short, succinct statement of your substantiated views. It should, of course, be backed up with detail in the body of the chapter or report. DT249 Project 19 19

20 Writing: Too much Don’t pad out your work with information that is not pertinent to your topic, even if the material that you are using as padding is interesting. This does not stop you from using asides that are indirectly relevant; however, they are best placed in the footnotes. DT249 Project 20 20

21 Writing: Keep to the point
Always keep to the point. Read each paragraph before you submit the project, and ask yourself how it contributes to the overall aim of the project. This is were a high level framework is important. DT249 Project 21 21

22 Writing: Negative Findings
An undergraduate thesis is a body of academic work. You may find a major problem with your basic premise and indeed you may find late in the day that there are some serious limitations in your ideas. This does not mean disaster! Your project can still be of value if you can articulate those limitations. DT249 Project 22 22

23 Writing: No Copying and Pasting!
Do not copy and paste large screeds of text from Web sites. Some direct quotes are fine if they support some argument that you are making (and they are acknowledged). Do not overdo, paraphrase and cite instead. You can reference a URL as follows ‘The Microsoft XML[2] site differentiates between three types of parser…’. Where [2] is an index to your reference section. See Chapter 10 of general regulations at: DT249 Project 23 23

24 Writing: References Record your references early. When you find an interesting article/chapter you should write a few sentences about it and create a reference immediately. Your work could be of benefit to students in the future. References are useful for students may want to develop your particular topic, perhaps taking a different approach. DT249 Project 24 24

25 Writing: References Your reference section should store the full details of your references. These details could include: authors, year, conference, journal, URL of web-site and date visited, type of reference e.g. peer reviewed paper, professional journal, report, un-reviewed paper. Two popular reference and bibliographic packages are Zotero and EndNote Zotero can be used as reference management software, to manage bibliographies and references. EndNote can be used to manage references. DT249 Project 25 25

26 Writing: References At present, we do not mandate any particular style of referencing. You could use author year (e.g. [Jones98], [Jones98a], [IBM06]). If it you are referencing a web site then in your reference section you should include the date you visited the site, the title and author of the document (or page) that you are citing. DT249 Project 26 26

27 Writing: Sign posting You need good 'sign posting’.
You should tell the reader what you are going to say and why you are going to say it. Be sure to include a good motivational hook at the beginning of sections. DT249 Project 27 27

28 Writing: Code Code extracts in the body of the report should be used to illustrate or support some concept that your are describing. The full code should be included in an appendix. DT249 Project 28 28

29 Writing: Fonts Use a different font (such as Courier New) when referring to software or modelled entities. This helps to distinguish between a real-world concept such an employee and the software realization of the concept which could be called Employee. DT249 Project 29 29

30 Writing: Complexity V Simplicity
We can consider Complexity and Simplicity with respect to the actual project topic e.g. complex plagiarism detection, simple basic web site. DT249 Project 30 30

31 Writing: Handling Complexity
When writing on advanced topics there are often too many 'real world' issues to tackle at once. Simplification may be required. Try to apply a simplification to potentially complex topics. DT249 Project 31 31

32 Writing: Handling Complexity
Guideline: Try to simplify complexity use abstraction (the act of separating in thought OED). Focus on the core points as stated at the start of each paragraph, try to suppress the noise of detail. The advice on simplification must be balanced against the need to address the relevant issues in your report. DT249 Project 32 32

33 Writing: Terminology You must use technical terminology and TLAs sensibly. Try to use the ‘standard’ terminology of your research area. A glossary will be required to assist the reader. These terms express the core concepts in a precise and concise manner. DT249 Project 33 33

34 Writing: Terminology Although the terminology can require a bit of work to develop and master it is well worth the effort. Using the ‘standard’ terminology actually makes the report easier to write. DT249 Project 34 34

35 Writing: Illustrate and explain your work.
Diagrams, tables, and a glossary can all help make you finished work more concise, precise and understandable. DT249 Project 35 35

36 A good project report A good report has something to say!
Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the subject. (coverage=no gaps or overlaps). Independent critical evaluation of your own work and your methods. Clear arguments, well expressed. Integration of diverse material. Clear focus on subject. Knowledge of the wider context of the work. DT249 Project 36 36

37 A good project report Depth of insight into selected aspects.
Well organised chapters and sections. Clearly defined project boundaries. Diversity presented as a coherent whole. Critical and reflective evaluation of work. Good supporting literature and evidence of broad reading using different sources. DT249 Project 37 37

38 A good project report A final year report requires an intelligent reporting and interpretation of referenced material. This interpretation should relate the goals or aims of the report. DT249 Project 38 38

39 Sample reports. Sample projects are available in Webcourses.
DT249 Project 39 39

40 Think about Ambitious projects? Scope? Boundaries?
Using (or re-using) information. Type of project Software implementation. Research (hons. only, must have S/W focus/makes a point). A mixture of research and implementation. DT249 Project 40 40

41 General Advice Think completion. Think marks.
Think readers (examiners, students). Keep it as simple as possible. Stick to the plan. Work with your supervisor. DT249 Project 41 41

42 General: Study groups Form study groups. Collaboration and study groups are encouraged. While the exchange of ideas is part of the learning experience, your project must be as a result of your own efforts. DT249 Project 42 42

43 Daytime meetings with your supervisor
The majority of evening students meet their supervisor in the evening. There is also a daytime option available. Are you in a position to meet your supervisor during working hours? This could be any time from 9 to 5 including lunch time. Please let me know if you wish to have your project meetings in the day rather than the evening DT249 Project 43 43

44 The Presentation The presentation will allow you to present and demonstrate your work. You should: explain the objectives of your project describe how you went about achieving those objectives. emphasize your main achievements present your conclusions summarise and reflect on your work The presentation should be about minutes with 5-10 minutes for questions. DT249 Project 44 44

45 The Presentation You can use PowerPoint or conventional slides. Try to keep to slides. Most students use their own laptops. If you wish to use a college computer then your should bring your presentation on a memory key. If there is a software component you should include appropriate screen dumps in your presentation (just in case there are issues in running or setting up the actual S/W). DT249 Project 45 45

46 The Presentation If you wish you can set up your S/W before the presentation. Please let me know if you require set up time. If your S/W is too difficult to set up then include screen dumps of the running system in your presentation. To avoid difficulties in setting up your software in the labs, we would encourage your to use your own laptop computer. Please let me know if you require further clarification. DT249 Project 46 46

47 The Presentation The project presentations will be held during the day and early evening (see schedule on web page for details). The details of presentation schedule (such as location and timetable) will be ed to you beforehand. The presentation last 30 minutes, minutes presentation/demo and 10 minutes for questions. You should also bring a CD/DVD contain code, configuration files, support libraries and software. You should upload the electronic copy to Webcourses on the official delivery date and bring 3 hard copies to your presentation. DT249 Project 47 47

48 The Delivery of the Project
The electronic version (PDF or WORD) of your project should uploaded to Webcourses on an given date and time (check your DIT and the project web page for details). Three copies of the paper version should be delivered at the actual project presentation. The paper copies should use a 'perfect bind' with a clear plastic front cover and a blue back cover, it is relatively inexpensive. There is no need for expensive binding. DT249 Project 48 48

49 The Delivery of the Project
Details of the expected format of the project document can be found on the project page. Guidelines for Honours Degree Project Guidelines for the Ordinary Degree Project The Honours Degree project should be about 15,000 words (or 70 pages). Apart from the size guideline and the use of a sensible font size there is not specific format required. Use the sample projects as a guidelines for formatting. DT249 Project 49 49

50 Sources of Advice The project coordinator (
The Project web site: Information Systems Research Practice Text books: e.g. Doing Your Undergraduate Project by Denis Reardon DT249 Project 50 50

51 Sources of Advice Common Errors in English Usage (Paperback) by Paul Brians. It focuses on American English but should still be useful. See online version at: Paul Brians home page at: DT249 Project 51 51

52 Library You should familiarize yourself with the library facilities. In particular, you should use your library account to access electronic resources such as Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) or IEEE journals. DT249 Project 52 52

53 Gantt Chart You can construct simple Gantt charts using Excel.

54 Critical Path A critical activity must be completed on time to avoid missing the delivery date. A Critical Path is a route through the plan from start to finish through all the critical activities. The CP is the longest path through network which controls the overall timing. The path through the plan includes all the activities that should be focused on. Delays on the CP mean delays in the project.

55 Critical Path The CP is the longest path through network which controls the overall timing. Activities on the CP must happen on time if the project is to end on time. Task for you to do now! Write down your tasks Establish the relationships and dependencies.

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