A5: Final-project proposal

2017 edition, with this text's color serving as a visual reminder.

Now that we have had exposure to a variety of topics and have practiced developing small project proposals, we are well-positioned to formulate final-project proposals. The goal of this multi-part assignment is to help students complete a successful final project by the end of the semester, indeed, one that we hope can eventually become a research publication. This goal motivates the requirements below (as well as the assignments prior to this one).

Topic. Proposals can be based on proposals previously submitted for this class, but need not be.

Teams. Joint proposals are encouraged but are not required. Henceforth, the words "you" and "your" refer to a team acting as a unit, although the team can consist of a single person. When a multi-person team is involved, a single person should represent the team when it comes to posting on the course discussion site or making an appointment, but all team members should be involved in drafting what gets posted and should show up to appointments made on the team's behalf.

In contrast, though, commenting on other people's proposals is an individual activity, not a team enterprise. Also, individuals should be prepared to document their individual effort to the project.

Working with "external" courses or people If your project involves coursework for another class and/or collaboration with someone who is not a student currently in 6742 (examples: a fellow student in your research group; your advisor), the following policies apply.

  1. Overlap with other courses must be declared both to me and to the instructor(s) of the other course(s), and you must send me verification that the other instructor(s) approve(s). email to me cc:ed to the other instructor(s) suffices.
  2. Your proposal must state who the "external" people are and what their role(s) would be. 
  3. You must verify with all parties involved that co-working with you is OK and that all members understand that the project is done in the context of the final project for this class, and that the "external" people are OK with the possibility of co-authoring with me. (I state this as a possibility — I may or may not contribute enough to your project to merit co-authorship. This issue will be discussed later, and all decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.) You must send me verification of the other parties' understanding; email to me cc:ed to them suffices.

Content requirements. 3-6 paragraphs is the rough length expectation. Include the following.

  1. At least one clear and concrete hypothesis. Emphasize and number each one (e.g., "H1", "H2")
  2. Identification of at least one appropriate data source that you can obtain and process in the time allotted
  3. An indication of what language features you plan to employ
  4. A plan for at least one concrete feasibility test. You technically need not have started the test by the time you submit phase 1 or 2 (see below), but I strongly recommend that you do start such tests before submitting; that will not only help you hone your proposal, but as a pragmatic matter, the test will need to be done by your mandatory feasibility meeting (see below).
  5. A listing of the members of your team
  6. Acknowledgments of sources of other input/inspiration. For example, if you were inspired by a particular reading, cite it; if your proposal incorporates work or ideas you've already talked about (or plan to talk about) with other students/your advisor/an internship mentor/the instructor of another class/etc., give the names of all such people.

Deadlines. In all cases, I recommend trying to finish each milestone ahead of its deadline.

Assessment criteria: Proposals: thoughtfulness, creativity, and feasibility are most important to . On-time completion of all requirements will be factored in. Extra credit will be awarded for thoughtfulness and creativity of the feedback you give to others.

Academic Integrity Academic and scientific integrity compels one to properly attribute to others any work, ideas, or phrasing that one did not create oneself. To do otherwise is fraud.

Certain points deserve emphasis here. In this class, talking to and helping others is strongly encouraged. You may also, with attribution, use the code from other sources. The easiest rule of thumb is, acknowledge the work and contributions and ideas and words and wordings of others. Do not copy or slightly reword portions of papers, Wikipedia articles, textbooks, other students' work, Stack Overflow answers, something you heard from a talk or a conversation or saw on the Internet, or anything else, really, without acknowledging your sources. See "Acknowledging the Work of Others" in The Essential Guide to Academic Integrity at Cornell and http://www.theuniversityfaculty.cornell.edu/AcadInteg/ for more information and useful examples.

This is not to say that you can receive course credit for work that is not your own — e.g., taking someone else's report and putting your name at the top, next to the other person(s)' names. However, violations of academic integrity (e.g., fraud) undergo the academic-integrity hearing process on top of any grade penalties imposed, whereas not following the rules of the assignment “only” risks grade penalties.