|CS 702||Senior Thesis||Spring 2018|
In addition to writing the thesis, you are also expected to attend all CS seminar talks. There are usually 2-4 CS seminars during the semester, by CS faculty and/or outside speakers, and attending these talks will provide you a glimpse on a variety of topics in CS, many of which are beyond our course offerings. Most seminar events are scheduled during the lunch hour, and attendance is mandatory. I might assign a brief response paper for each seminar talk.
Attendance at all class meetings is also mandatory. In class we will discuss issues related to writing and orally presenting your thesis. At various points during the term, students will give brief progress reports and practice presentations on their topic.
The seminar schedule requires the student to make an early commitment to a particular topic and to begin work on that subject at the start of the term. The thesis should be your number-one priority for the term. In the second half of the semester, large blocks of your time will be devoted to writing your paper. You can eliminate some of the last-minute all-nighters and panicky final days by disciplined work in the first half of the term. Set a definite period of time each day that you will devote to your thesis. Arrange regular meetings with your adviser at least once a week.
The bibliography, thesis outline, and the first and second drafts will usually be evaluated and returned to the student by the thesis adviser within one week. The thesis adviser will read the final draft and indicate corrections that must be made before the polished final thesis is submitted. The evaluation of how well the course requirements were met will be considered by the department faculty in determining the final grade for the course.
Students sometimes experience difficulty in their first independent learning experience. The structure imposed on you in regular courses - classes meeting two or three times a week, daily homework, scheduled examinations - makes it somewhat easier for you to organize your time and to discipline yourself to meet deadlines. Some of that structure is (deliberately) missing from the senior seminar. You will have to take more initiative in organizing your schedule to complete the work on your thesis.
For example, you might pose a problem. Then you could try to work out your own solution or find several different solutions from several different sources. You might discuss their similarities and differences: Do they use different areas of computer science? Can you draw your own illustrations or examples of these methods? Insert some of yourself into your thesis - your opinions, your arrangement of material, your implementation, your own analyses or proofs, and your own figures.
There is a fine line here between doing your own work and plagiarizing someone else's (see also the last section on this handout). Any material taken from a source, whether verbatim or paraphrased, must include a citation. If you copy an entire sentence word for word you must use quotation marks to indicate that it is not your own writing – otherwise it is plagiarism, even if you include a citation. Using well-established definitions from the literature is not plagiarism, but again you must acknowledge your source. It is not acceptable to string together paragraph after paragraph of quoted material. You should be doing most of the writing yourself, using quotations to support a point. For the expository parts of your thesis, gather the information and then express the ideas in your own worlds. The definitions can be quoted. The analyses or proofs should be, as much as possible, your own. When it comes time to write up your thesis, you should try, as much as possible, to express the ideas in your own words.
The second task is to prepare and present an oral presentation of your thesis. The presentations will be scheduled during the last weeks of class, and you are encouraged to invite friends, family and other guests to attend.
As an academic community devoted to the life of the mind, Middlebury College requires of every student complete intellectual honesty in the preparation of all assigned academic work.As many theses in our department involve restatements of known algorithms, theorems and proofs, the question of plagiarism may be relevant to you. Your thesis adviser will be able to answer any questions you may have about this subject. It is your responsibility to consult with him or her.
Plagiarism is a violation of intellectual honesty. Plagiarism is passing off another person's work as one's own. It is taking and presenting as one's own the ideas, research, writings, creations, or inventions of another. It makes no difference whether the source is a student or a professional in some field. For example, in written work, whenever as much as a sentence or key phrase is taken from the work of another without specific citation of the source, the issue of plagiarism arises.
Paraphrasing is the close restatement of another's idea using approximately the language of the original. Paraphrasing without acknowledgment of authorship is also plagiarism and is as serious a violation as an unacknowledged quotation.
The individual student is responsible for ensuring that his or her work does not involve plagiarism. Ignorance of the nature of plagiarism or of College rules may not be offered as a mitigating circumstance.