This required two-credit course is designed to help guide
entering Ph.D. students through the challenging transition into the
graduate program in Computer Science. Topics range broadly across
issues of research and scholarship. We will cover as many of these
balancing competing demands of coursework, research, and
how to go about identifying and working with a dissertation
working within a research group
becoming a proficient reader, writer, and reviewer of
making use of online and library research resources
becoming proficient with technical tools of the trade for
writing and performing research
presenting good talks and demonstrating communication skills
becoming visible in the research community
understanding and applying scientific ethics, including
awareness of plagiarism
identifying and avoiding instances of academic misconduct
applying for fellowships and internships
writing a thesis proposal and a dissertation
finding a job after graduate school
The course will not cover details of program requirements and
milestones, nor will the class provide academic advice specific to
individual students in the class. For these please consult the
Graduate Student Handbook and your academic advisor, respectively.
Weekly meetings will be led by the instructors, frequently
accompanied by other faculty members and senior (or former) Ph.D.
students, who will discuss their experiences. Although most weeks
will consist of a lecture portion, especially on the more technical
topics, there will be ample time for discussion during each class.
We will meet once a week for 50 minutes. We will often expect you to
have read something in advance to prepare for class discussion. We
will assign the readings as needed.
Grading and Assignments
Letter grades will be assigned. It
is possible to fail this course, in which case you will be asked
to re-sit the class at a future date.
Grades will be based on completion of both written and reading
assignments for the class, active participation in class, and
All students must attend all lectures, and any absences will be duly
noted. If you cannot attend these lectures you must provide
compelling reasons for your absence. NOTE: As part of our endeavor
to meet the Office of Research Compliance and RCREAC minimum
standards, the instructors will monitor class attendance.
There are four main assignments for this class, as listed below:
1. Personal Academic Website (due: 2/13). In this assignment you will create a personal academic website which will be linked here. Instructions on adding yourself to cs-people.bu.edu are here. The site should be professional and should serve as a platform for presenting your research work and contributions. Examples from previous cohorts are also linked on the page for potential guidance.
2. Written Review (due: 3/27). In this assignment you will read a paper
chosen in concert with an advising faculty member, and generate a
conference-style review. Using a review form from a top conference
or journal, the review will assess the paper's suitability for
publication and offer constructive feedback intended to help the
authors improve the paper. A post mortem discussion of the reviews
will be conducted in class.
3. Technical Paper (due: final day
of classes). In this assignment you will write a technical
report on a topic that either (a) you are currently pursuing
with your advisor, (b) is relevant to your already chosen
research area (if you have one), or (c) represents an overview of
the current state of the art for a specific area. You should write
your paper in a style similar to that in peer-reviewed conferences
and journals (limited to 8 pages, 10-point font, double column,
single-line spaced, according to IEEE/ACM standard formatting
rules). The first page of your paper should include a carefully
chosen title, followed by your name and contact information, and
then an abstract that captures the salient points of the paper. In
the remaining space on the first page, you should start with an
"Introduction" section, that motivates your research topic and
describes the significant contributions of the paper. Ensuing
sections should be chosen as necessary, to describe the details of
the research topic, key observations and results, related work, and
conclusions and future work. You are also required to include a list
of references to related work at the end of your paper.
NOTE: For the technical paper, it
is insufficient to submit a piece of already-written work that you
have conducted with your advisor. Moreover, to ensure comparable
effort by all members of the class, you are required to write a
paper that is single-author, thereby demonstrating your own
4. Presentation (during class).
For this part of the course requirement, each student will form a
team to present a particular topic. The size of each presentation
group will depend on the number of students in the class, but you
should expect to work with at least one partner for a given
presentation. The instructors reserve the right to choose partners,
although students are encouraged to establish teams with which they
feel comfortable. Each team is expected to identify a topic, or set
of preferential topics, they are willing to discuss in class. We
will then assign responsibilities for each team to produce a
powerpoint (or equivalent) set of slides. Each team member should
demonstrate similar effort in preparation and presentation of
slides. A good presentation will engage the audience, so be prepared
to ask questions of the class, rather than merely dictate a few
basic items on your slides.
The course has a web site where assigned and recommended readings