Department of Math and Computer Science

Independent Study Proposal Framework

As of Fall 2014


As Edinboro University continues to place more emphasis on the high-impact practice of undergraduate research experiences, more students of Computer Science will seek such opportunities.  The faculty generally believe that a student seeking an undergraduate research opportunity for credit by enrolling in CSCI 490 Independent Study should prepare a detailed proposal specifying the motivation for said project, as well as a plan to produce deliverables at its conclusion.  These opportunities should be reserved for students who have: 1) the university required GPA, and 2) proven they have developed the appropriate work ethic as exhibited in the computer science courses they have completed.  Additionally, the student should not be attempting to use the Independent Study to replace computer science credits in their program in which they did not receive a passing grade.  In an attempt to make the development of the proposals consistent within the discipline, this document will first specify the framework, then follow this by outlining the procedures for enrolling in CSCI 490 Independent Study.


A student wishing to enroll in CSCI 490 Independent Study will be expected to complete a written proposal that will outline the motivation, the project description and the plan of study that will result in project deliverables.  A good proposal will be of 5-7 pages in length.  If the student requires it, the faculty advisor may assist in providing some direction in developing the content of the proposal; however, the student will be required to write the proposal.  Each proposal should contain the following:

1.      Title Page – The title page will contain the name of the project, the student name, the faculty advisor’s name and the semester the study will take place.

2.      Synopsis or Abstract – A synopsis is a brief, but informative description of the research in 3-5 sentences.  The purpose of the synopsis or abstract is to allow the reader to quickly ascertain what is in the proposal.  This should appear at the beginning of the document and serve as an entry point into the proposal and can later be used as the abstract submission for a conference or poster presentation.

3.      Introduction and Background – The introduction should identify what the proposal is and provide enough detail and discussion that anyone reading the paper would understand what is being proposed. The introduction should identify why the research is important and any related work that has been done in this area.  All related work should be cited using either the ACM or IEEE citation styles. Also included in the introduction is how any curriculum content the student might have been exposed to relate or supports the project to be proposed.

4.      Project Description – This is a detailed description of the project being presented.  It should be clear from this section what the project will involve and will build on the information provided in the introduction.  Students should be encouraged to identify components of the project that may be ambiguous or difficult to implement.  A description of any necessary resources should also be included.

5.      Project Timeline – All projects exhibit milestones or phases that can be considered “completed” before moving on to the next milestone or phase.  These milestones will be identified as well as the number of weeks believed to be necessary to complete it.  Students should consider a timeframe of 15 weeks for a fall or spring semester project and 13 weeks for a summer project.

6.      Deliverables or Assessments – The deliverables or assessments are intended to show the community that you have completed what was proposed.  Examples of deliverables include (but are not limited to), a research paper, a conference presentation, a poster presentation, development of a web site, etc.  All students will be required to present their work at the end of the semester to the department community.

7.      Bibliography – This will include references cited in-text and any resources the student may use such as reference manuals, websites, people, etc.  Again, bibliography entries should follow the ACM or IEEE citation styles.


Students wishing to enroll in CSCI 490 Independent Study will be required to complete the appropriate paperwork (at department office) and submit their detailed proposal with the paperwork.  Signatures should be obtained in the order in which they appear on the paperwork.  Before being submitted to the department chair for signature, the student should have the paperwork and proposal reviewed by the appointed Faculty reviewer.  Independent Studies will not be considered after the second week of the semester, therefore students should be advised to provide sufficient time for proposals to be reviewed and critiqued.