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Writing Your Masters Dissertation David A Watt 2010 11

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Presentation on theme: "Writing Your Masters Dissertation David A Watt 2010 11"— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing Your Masters Dissertation David A Watt

2 2 Overview Structure Content Writing Formatting Submission

3 3 Structure (1) First decide the structure of your dissertation: how it will be divided into chapters (and appendices). You might decide to subdivide some chapters into sections. You might even subdivide some sections into sub-sections. –But avoid sub-sub-sections!

4 4 Example: structure (1) Typical structure for a development project dissertation: Title page Acknowledgements Abstract Table of Contents 1Introduction 2Survey 3Requirements 4Design 5Implementation 6Evaluation 7Conclusion ARequirements BDesign Documents CEvaluation Results Bibliography Chapters Appendices

5 5 Example: structure (2) Typical structure for a research project dissertation: Title page Acknowledgements Abstract Table of Contents 1Introduction 2Survey 3… 4… 5… 6Evaluation 7Conclusion A… B… Bibliography Chapters Appendices

6 6 Structure (2) Expand your structure into a synopsis. Under each chapter title, write brief notes summarising what the chapter will cover. Use the synopsis to check: –that all essential topics are covered –that no topic is covered twice –that the topics are covered in an orderly fashion (avoiding forward references where possible). Ask your supervisor to comment on your synopsis before you start writing chapters.

7 7 Example: synopsis Possible synopsis for a development project dissertation: 1Introduction Context; motivation for the project; problem statement; outline of dissertation. 2Survey Review of relevant literature; review of similar software products. 3Requirements How requirements were captured; discussion of major requirements (referring to Appendix A for details). 4Design How the product was designed, with discussion of design alternatives (referring to Appendix B for details). …

8 8 Content Title page Abstract Table of contents Development project dissertation Research project dissertation Supplementary material and attached CD For advice on bibliography, citations, and plagiarism, re-read Writing Your Masters Proposal Report.

9 9 Content: title page Managing an Election Campaign Barack Obama A dissertation presented in part fulfilment of the requirements of the Degree of MSc in Information Technology at The University of Glasgow November 2008 title authors full name degree date

10 10 Content: abstract The abstract is a short summary of the dissertation. Its purpose is to catch the readers attention: is this dissertation worth reading in full? It should be ½–1 page long. It should briefly outline the context of the project, its goals, and its achievements. It should highlight any novel aspects of the project.

11 11 Content: table of contents The table of contents lists the chapters of the dissertation (showing each chapters number and title, and the number of its first page). Similarly, it lists the abstract, acknowledgements, appendices, bibliography, etc. If chapters are subdivided into sections, these should also be listed (showing each sections number and title, and the number of its first page). –Section details should be indented and less prominent.

12 12 Example: table of contents Table of Contents Acknowledgementsiii Abstractv Contentsvii 1Introduction1 2Survey6 2.1Literature6 2.2Software products13 3Requirements20 4Design23 4.1Class design23 4.2User interface design30 5Implementation34 5.1Model34 5.2User interface39 5.3Controller43 5.4Test strategy46 6Evaluation48 6.1Methodology48 6.2Results50 7Conclusion59 ARequirements63 BDesign Documents67 CEvaluation Results71 Bibliography93

13 13 Content: development project (1) In your introduction, briefly explain the context of your work, state the problem that you addressed, and explain why this problem was worth solving. In your survey chapter, present an overview of relevant previous work including articles and existing products. Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this previous work. –You can reuse material from your proposal report, but improve it and update it. Dont just reproduce it!

14 14 Content: development project (2) In your requirements chapter, explain how you captured the requirements. –But dont include a full statement of requirements here! In your design chapter, discuss the main features of your design and how it evolved, highlighting any novel features. –But dont include design documentation here! In your implementation chapter, discuss the main algorithms and data structures and how they evolved, highlighting any novel features. Also discuss your testing strategy.

15 15 Content: development project (3) In your evaluation chapter, describe how you evaluated your product. Summarise the evaluation results, and use them to critically evaluate your own work. Be honest about any shortcomings. In your conclusion, describe the status of your product. Summarize what you have achieved, compared to what you originally set out to achieve. Relate your work to relevant previous work. Suggest further work that you think would be worthwhile.

16 16 Content: research project (1) In your introduction, briefly explain the research context of your work. Clearly state the research problem that you addressed. Explain why this research problem is worth solving. In your survey chapter, present an overview of the literature relevant to the research problem. Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the work reported in the literature. –You can reuse material from your proposal report, but improve it and update it. Dont just reproduce it!

17 17 Content: research project (2) In your middle chapters, describe the research itself, and its results. Include enough technical detail to enable a reader to judge the accuracy and originality of your work. This description of your research should be the largest part of your dissertation; how it is divided into chapters will depend on the nature of your work. In your evaluation chapter, critically evaluate your research results and assess their significance.

18 18 Content: research project (3) In your conclusion, summarize what you have achieved, compared to what you originally set out to achieve. Relate your work to other relevant work. Suggest further work that you think would be worthwhile.

19 19 Content: supplementary material Supplementary material includes code, documentation, detailed evaluation results, etc. Do not include supplementary material in the chapters of your dissertation. Put all supplementary material on the CD that accompanies your dissertation. Put selected supplementary material in appendices (but only if it is short and essential to understanding of the dissertation). Include references to the supplementary material in your dissertation.

20 20 Content: CD Suggested CD structure and contents: –Dissertation – PDF of your dissertation –Code – executable or script – all source code files – any required data files –Documentation – statement of requirements – design documentation – code documentation –Evaluation – task sheet(s) – questionnaire form(s) – questionnaire returns required (to make it easy for readers to run your software) whatever is appropriate for your project

21 21 Writing Knowing your readers Tense Voice and 1 st -person pronouns For advice on terminology, acronyms, spelling, and grammar, re-read Writing Your Masters Proposal Report.

22 22 Writing: knowing your readers Know who will read your dissertation, and think about what they know already: –Do not patronise readers by explaining things that they probably do know already. –Do not bamboozle readers by failing to explain things that they probably do not know already. (Include a brief explanation, and/or cite a suitable textbook or article.) Who might read your dissertation? –internal and external examiners –future masters students –interested readers elsewhere (if it is very good!).

23 23 Writing: tense Write about your project activities (e.g., design, evaluation) in the past tense. Write about your projects product in the present tense. Write about planned further work in the future tense. At the time of submitting your dissertation, the product exists. At the time of submitting your dissertation, the project activities have been completed. At the time of submitting your dissertation, the further work has not yet been done.

24 24 Writing: voice and first-person pronouns Most technical writers prefer to write in the active voice (e.g., I did this, then I did that). But this forces the writer to use 1 st -person pronouns (such as I or me) when referring to him/herself: –Using I or me frequently is egocentric – use it sparingly. –Using we is pretentious if there is only one author. Some technical writers prefer to write in the passive voice (e.g., this was done, then that was done). This avoids the problem of 1 st -person pronouns, but then sentences tend to be vague or awkward.

25 25 Example: voice and first-person pronouns To evaluate our database system, we assembled a group of 10 users. We gave each user a task sheet and a questionnaire. We designed the evaluation to test our systems usability. pretentious To evaluate the database system, a group of 10 users was assembled. Each user was given a task sheet and a questionnaire. The evaluation was designed to test the systems usability. vague To evaluate the database system, I assembled a group of 10 users. Each user received a task sheet and a questionnaire. The evaluation was designed to test the systems usability. reasonable To evaluate my database system, I assembled a group of 10 users. I gave each user a task sheet and a questionnaire. I designed the evaluation to test my systems usability. egocentric

26 26 Formatting: word processors Use a good word processor, such as Word or LaTeX. Use the word processors built-in styles. Also define your own styles where necessary. Using styles helps to ensure consistent (and easily- modified) formatting: –You can define a style once, then use it throughout the document. –You can modify the style once, then the whole document is automatically reformatted. Manually setting the style of each paragraph makes consistent formatting of a large document much more difficult.

27 27 Formatting: chapter/section headings A chapter heading must be extremely prominent – always at the top of a new page. A section heading should be very prominent, and a sub-section heading fairly prominent. To make a heading prominent, use bold face, a large font size, and ample spacing above and below. Suggestions: –Chapter headings: 30pt bold, page break above, 48pt below. –Section headings: 18pt bold, 36pt spacing above, 12pt below. –Sub-section headings: 14pt bold, 24pt above, 12pt below. –Paragraphs: 12pt. LaTeX has built-in styles \chapter, \section, \subsection. Word has built-in styles Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3. You can modify them.

28 28 Example: chapter/section headings 5 Testing and Evaluation Due to the available student facilities within the CS department, this application was only tested on Microsoft Windows 98/Me/XP with a minimum Java version of 1.5. While there are student Linux PCs available, their default Java version was only 1.4 which was insufficient to run and test CSim. Therefore, while CSim should run with limited functionality (Black boxes do not work due to OS file handling differences.) on MacOS, Linux and Windows server operating systems with Java 1.5 no guarantees can be made. 5.1 Application Testing In order to test the application as it was being written, three plain text circuit description files were created for progressively more complex circuits: an And2 gate, a multiplexer and a 1-bit register (see Figure 5.1). Being reasonable simple circuits with only one, four and five logic gates respectively they were easy to draw out and animate on paper. In addition, the third circuit provided a good test of the animation functionality as it included a flip flop. bad 5 Testing and Evaluation Due to the available student facilities within the CS department, this application was only tested on Microsoft Windows 98/Me/XP with a minimum Java version of 1.5. While there are student Linux PCs available, their default Java version was only 1.4 which was insufficient to run and test CSim. Therefore, while CSim should run with limited functionality (Black boxes do not work due to OS file handling differences.) on MacOS, Linux and Windows server operating systems with Java 1.5 no guarantees can be made. 5.1 Application Testing In order to test the application as it was being written, three plain text circuit description files were created for progressively more complex circuits: an And2 gate, a multiplexer and a 1-bit register (see Figure 5.1). Being reasonable simple circuits with only one, four and five logic gates respectively they were easy to draw out and animate on paper. In addition, the third circuit provided a good test of the animation functionality as it included a flip flop. better

29 29 Formatting: chapter/section numbering Chapters should be numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. Sections within Chapter 7 (say) should be numbered 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, etc. Subsections within Section 7.4 (say) should be numbered 7.4.1, 7.4.2, etc. Appendices should be numbered A, B, C, etc. LaTeX numbers chapters and section automatically. It also supports symbolic cross-references. Word doesnt help with numbering. You must update cross-references whenever you insert, delete, or reorder chapters or sections.

30 30 Formatting: floats A float is a figure or table that is not anchored to a particular position in the text. A float can be positioned at any suitable position on the page. Every float must have a number, so that it can be cross-referenced. Floats within Chapter 7 (say) should be numbered 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, etc. Every float should have a caption, to make it self-explanatory. A float should be separated from the text by ample spacing, so that it doesnt interrupt reading of the text. Position it at the top or bottom of a page, or at the end of a (sub-)section.

31 31 Example: floats The solution was to introduce an abstract class Animal. This is shown in the following diagram: Mammal and Bird are now subclasses of Animal. Mammal inherits the move method from Animal, but Bird overrides it. bad Animal MammalReptile The solution was to introduce an abstract class Animal. This is shown in the class diagram of Figure 4.5. Mammal and Bird are now subclasses of Animal. Mammal inherits the move method from Animal, but Bird overrides it. Figure 4.5 Class diagram better Animal MammalReptile

32 32 Submission Plan to start writing your dissertation at least 3 weeks before the deadline. Show a draft to your supervisor well before then. Submit one PDF copy of your dissertation: –a single file named MSc_project_nnnnnnn.pdf or MRes_project_nnnnnnn.pdf (nnnnnnn = student number). Submit one printed copy of your dissertation: –in a black spring-bound folder –CD enclosed in a sleeve attached to the inside cover. Deadline: Wed 7 September 2011 at 12:00. Late penalty: 2 bands per day (or part-day).

33 33 Exemplary dissertations We have a collection of excellent (grade A) masters dissertations from previous years:


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