The following notes are for intended advisees and for
those on whose dissertation committee I serve.
It is a work in progress.
It is not intended for others to adopt; I may
add requirements that others may find
Criteria and Standards
Spellcheck all documents before sending them to me for review.
Use active voice. The "doer" in the sentence should be clear.
Omit needless words; excessive verbage clutters.
You may want to experiment with style-check.rb from my
or via gem install style-check
Thesis Proposal (Document)
A thesis proposal must propose a thesis. (Not a piece of software,
not a paper, etc.) A thesis should be:
quoted by Wright State
Arguable / Falsifiable: The statement can be doubted, or experiments could be
designed to show that it is false. Great if the reader is likely to believe it to be false.
Clear / Precise: Each word in the thesis statement should have a
clear definition. What you mean by "efficient" or "high-performance"
should be in the text (not necessarily in the statement itself, but nearby).
Unified / One Sentence: Explain the central idea using just one sentence;
if that sentence is too hard to craft, there are too many distinct ideas.
Narrow / Tractable: The scope of the thesis shouldn't be too large for you
to address. If there are aspects of the problem you will not address, narrow
the problem to what you're covering.
Original: Your work; someone else didn't have the same thesis statement.
intro outline template
if you're stuck.
Related work should focus on the key contribution of the other project and how your work
is distingushed. There's a
related work exercise
that is less useful than the intro exercise, but has more detail.
- Chronological ordering is not likely a good one: put important stuff first.
Covering all your publications is not necessary. (The committee may discuss
progress writing papers independent of the thesis.)
At least one (preferably two) high-quality published paper(s) should act
as an anchor, to convince that the final third of the work is all that remains.
(Papers need not be published, but must be of that quality.)
Limit to 20 pages single spaced.
Should be ready for the committee three weeks before the proposal presentation.
For your reference, and although Washington had somewhat different criteria and
milestones, you may look at
my thesis proposal
my self-critique and advice for others
that I wrote soon afterward.
Thesis Proposal (Presentation)
The thesis proposal presentation must include the following:
I am sure you'll have the technical meat anyway.
And must not include the following:
How your work fits in the context of related work.
Invisible graph lines. Gnuplot green on a white
background is a typical offender.
Text or figures not described. A big and detailed
picture recycled from another talk, from which a small
piece is useful, often causes such confusion.
Outline slides, if the outline is a close variant of the
classic: problem / hypothesis / procedure / results /
Unnecessary big picture context. Bugs are bad, the
Internet is good, software is ubiquitous. We get it.
Follow the guidelines for the thesis proposal.
I don't care what the official style guidelines are. For me,
prepare a version single spaced 10pt with 1.25'' margins. I use a tablet to read
and email to comment, so double spaced is unnecessary.
the UMD style guidelines.
Dissertation Defense (Presentation)
No laser pointers. We have no screens where a laser pointer is better than an arm at pointing.