CSC 426
Spring 2017


 Course Material 


 Class Project 

 Online Resources 



Course Syllabus


Bamshad Mobasher
Office: Loop Campus, CDM Building, Room 833
Phone: (312) 362-5174
Office Hours: Thursday, 4:00-5:30 PM (or by appointment)


The goal of this course is to help prepare you, both for the work involved in obtaining a PhD in Computer Science as wells as for your future research career as a computer professional or academic. In doing so, we will try to cover some of the following topics:

  • What is research and what it means to have a PhD;
  • The application of scientific method and the process of scientific discovery;
  • Basic issues in research methodology and different types of research;
  • Writing and evaluating technical research papers;
  • Developing a research proposal;
  • Writing a PhD Dissertation;
  • Ethical issues in scientific research and professional responsibility.

The activities in the course will include writing a review of a technical paper, writing and presenting (in class) a research proposal, active participation in class discussion, and leading a part of one class session. In addition, we will have several guest presentations by various faculty about their research and their experiences both as a graduate students as well as as faculty members. Note: Attendance is required for this course; if you are not able to attend the class for a particular session, you need make prior arrangements with me in advance.


Required and recommended books are listed below. In addition, We will use numerous online resources and articles. The resources directly relevant to topics covered in the course are listed in the Course Material section. Additional resources can be found on the Resources section.


Required Texts

Paul D. Leedy and Jeane Ellis Ormrod, Practical Research: Planning and Design, 11th Edition, 2015
Justin Zobel, Writing for Computer Science, 3rd Edition, 2014.

Recommended Texts

Oliver, J. The Incomplete Guide to the Art of Discovery. Columbia University Press, 1991. 0-231-07620-7.
Sara Baase, Gift of Fire, A: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Computing and the Internet, The Fifth Editions, 2017.
William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, Roger Angell. The Elements of Style, 4th Edition, 2000.

This is the classic reference book on how to write good English well.  Should be in your library.  This information is available on the web as well.

John Grossman, The Chicago Manual of Style : The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers, 15th Edition
Allan A. Glatthorn, Writing the Winning Dissertation : A Step-By-Step Guide, 1998.

Contains an excellent cookbook for writting dissertation chapters and you may find it a good investment.


  • Writing a review of an article
  • Writing a research proposal
  • Leadership of class for part of one class period
  • Giving a class presentation of your research proposal
  • Other class assignments
  • Analysis of readings and active participation in class discussions



% of Grade

Article Review


Project: Research Proposal


Class Leadership


Final Proposal Presentation


Analysis of Readings, Class Discussion, and Other Class Assignments




Article Review
You will be assigned an article to review as though you are functioning as a journal or conference reviewer.  Your job is to determine the worthiness of this article for publication, and to provide constructive and critical feedback to the author.  I expect a reasonable document to the authors to be 3-5 pages, but these are not absolute limits. A review form will be provided that can be used as a guide.

Project: Research Proposal
Beginning the first week you should start looking for a topic for your research proposal. You will need to submit the title and an abstract (one to two paragraphs) of your research proposal on Week 3. The format of the proposal will be based on the DePaul University Research Council Competitive Research Grants. Your proposal will include a presentation of the problem, relevant background information and , your hypotheses, the theory, any relevant literature review, hypotheses, and a detailed description of the design or method to be used.  Basically, it is a journal article without the results or discussion.  Your structure may vary some from this model based on the methods you are using.  Your final research proposal should be 5-6 pages long. Spelling and grammar count towards your grade. More information on the research proposal can be found in the Project section.

Class Leadership and Participation
Our class will be run as a doctoral seminar.  I will lead the class during weeks 1-4, but after that each student will participate in leading a class session.  You will lead topics individually or in pairs of two. Topics will be assigned, in part, based on your preferences and will be based on the materials covered during weeks 5-8 (see
Course Material). For your topic the class will read the assigned material and resources before the assigned date. Generally, your starting point will be the material assigned in the text or as part of the class reading material for that week. You should supplement that material that you'll see fit (but, at minimum, you must provide adequate coverage of the appropriate sections or chapters in the assigned text. It is your task to integrate and present this material in a coherent fashion and cover the most important aspects of the topic thoroughly. You may assign additional readings if necessary (check with me first). The portion of the class that you will lead (along with one or more partners) will be approximately 90 minutes. It is up to you as to how you wish to lead the class.  You may lecture for all or part of the class, provide discussion questions in advance, lead structured activities, etc.  I will participate as another member of the class. On the weeks you are not leading, it is expected that you will have completed the assigned readings, will actively participate in the class discussion, and will provide feedback on the presentations.

Final Presentation
In the last two weeks of the class, you will give a class presentation of your research proposal. Your presentation will need to be concise and should follow roughly the same organization as the proposal. You have a total of 20-25 minutes for your presentation, including at least 5 minutes for questions and feedback. The challenge in this part of the course is to give an effective and concise presentation of your research proposal in a short amount of time, much like a research presentation at a conference. We will discuss this further in class, and some examples of proposal presentations will be provided.

Copyright © 2017-2020, Bamshad Mobasher, DePaul University.