As part of their qualifying examination, all Ph.D. students are required to prepare a written report surveying and critiquing a research topical area in computer science. The results of completing this report will be reported in a departmental seminar and will form the basis of a private oral examination with the student’s Ph.D. committee. The report must be made available to the student’s doctoral committee at least two weeks before the seminar and oral portion of the examination.

The examination will be based on a set of papers selected by the student, his/her advisor, and his/her committee. The report must provide an in-depth analysis of at least 5 papers. In addition to the initial set of papers, the student will be expected to include at least 5 additional papers in the bibliography of the written report. It is not expected that these additional papers would be critiqued to the same extent as the initial set of papers. The whole set of papers should include current work in the topic area. The report must be presented and formatted in a style similar to that prescribed by a peer-reviewed conference paper in the topic area and is expected to be at least 10 pages in length. There is no maximum length. One common, acceptable format can be found on the IEEE Computer Society website:

The bibliography report will have the attributes of a “creative survey,” where the student both summarizes and critiques existing work on a subject. The report is not required to contain original research. Its emphasis must be to provide deep and comprehensive insight into high-quality existing research on a specific topic. The research examination must exhibit awareness of the research frontier in an area and potential research directions. The examination should demonstrate awareness of weaknesses and gaps in the published work. The examination tests the student’s technical communication skills as well as subject mastery both orally and in writing.

When writing the report, the student may receive advice and editorial assistance. However, the writing and content of the report must be the work of the student alone. The student must qualify according to standard academic norms as the sole author of the report. In an “acknowledgments” section at the end of the report, the student must disclose all assistance received. The disclosure must include enough detail to make clear that the student qualifies as the sole author of the report. If a student receives undisclosed assistance, he or she is subject to penalties for academic dishonesty.

The oral presentation of the bibliography report will be conducted as a departmental seminar and will be announced and open to the public. Computer Science faculty and students will be encouraged to attend these seminars. First, the student will give a presentation lasting about 40 minutes. The committee may allow or restrict questions during the presentation. Second, the audience may take up to 10 minutes to ask questions. Third, the audience will leave, and the committee members may ask further questions. If the student took the MS comprehensive as part of the qualifier, questions may also be asked based on the comprehensive. Finally, the student will leave and the committee will deliberate.

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