Project Work Outline

Project Work First Draft

Project Work Almost Final Draft


Project Work Outline


Draft the outline of your project work. The content of the outline is organized in sections (in the master’s project paper) or chapters (in the master’s thesis manuscript). Limit the overal size of the outline to 1-3 paragraphs per section (or chapter).

In each section (or chapter) address the questions below.

  1. What will you investigate? What is the overarching goal of the project work?
  2. What are the sub-goals (or objectives) of your investigation?
  3. How do you plan to carry out the project work? What are the milestones and artifacts of the development process? What methods, tools, and/or data sets will you use?
  4. What result(s) do you expect your project work to produce?
  5. How will you evaluate the result(s)?

You’ll need to come up with suggestive names for the section/chapter titles.

Some Guidelines

  • The outline is written in paragraph form.
  • The content you write in corresponding sections (or chapters) are appropriately balanced size-wise. For excample, the first two sections/chapters cannot be more than half of the outline.
  • The section/chapter you might be most comfortable to start with addresses quesiton #3. This is because you might have a clearer idea of the work you want to do.
  • The section/chapter that gives me personally the most trouble when I draft a conference paper (or when I wrote my dissertation) is section/chapter that addresses quesiont #2. To clearly and accurately articulate the actual objectives of the project work, we need to have a good understanding of
    • what we want do (section/chapter #1) and
    • how we want to do it (section/chapter #3)
  • Envisioning the result(s) of our project work (section/chapter that addresses quesiton #34) will also help with drafting better objectives.
  • Writing the outline is an iterative process. Don’t try to write it in one writing session.

Keep in mind that most likely there will be a discovery component in your project work. It might cause unexpected turns in the development process. Regular revisions of the project outline will capture those changes or new directions and will help you with preparing the first full draft of your project paper.

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Project Work First Draft

The first draft of the paper or dissertation will have the following content based on your review of and updates to similar content in your outline:

  • Reviewed/updated overarching goal of the study/investigation carried out by your project work:
    • In the 1st section of the paper
    • or in the 1st chapter of your dissertation
  • Reviewed/updated project work objectives (or subgoals or milestones) of the study you have planned in order to achieve the study’s goal. This is NOT to be confused with the results of project. This is where you say HOW you’ve reached the study’s goal.
    • In the 2nd section of the paper
    • or in the 2nd chapter of the dissertation, or in a section of the 1st chapter.
  • Reviewed/updated project work approach
    • In the 3rd section of the paper
    • or in separate chapter of the dissertation, typically following the background/literature review chapter.
  • Reviewed/updated project work results in a separate section/chapter (what you expect and partially obtained)
  • Drafted evaluation of the results based on project work objectives and evaluation criteria and evaluation methods you describe in this section.
  • Do NOT write the abstract. We are not ready to knowledgeably synthesize in 300 words the entire paper/dissertation.

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Project Work Almost Final Draft

  • Updated title
    • Must be about the STUDY, not the primary result of your study
  • Abstract draft
    • See feedback to the first full draft.
    • I recommend you do this AFTER you have the other sections/chapters drafted. Size: 300-350 words.
  • Introducctory section(s) (or chapters)
    • Describe the problem/issue your are studying
      • If your study is based on an existing system, make sure that your study is NOT REPEATING stuff from the previous study
    • Outline why your study, if successful, will be beneficial.
      • What are the expected impacts of your STUDY (NOT the benefits of the primary result of your study)
  • State the objectives of your STUDY
    • Objectives are NOT to be confused with results. They are what you have planned in order to achieve the study’s goal
  • Elaborate on the objectives: at minimum, brief paragraph for each objective.
  • You might include a description of related work in this segment of your paper or manuscript
    • Consult with your project advisor about it.
    • This is a required chapter for the thesis manuscript.
  • Conclude the section(s) with one paragraph that describes the organization of the rest of the document.
    • In a thesis manuscript, this can be a separate section.
  • Tentative size
    • Paper: title + abstract + CCS list + introductory section(s):
      • 20% of the paper, around 2 1/2 columns
    • Thesis: introductory sections: around 20% - 25% of the manuscript.
      • It depends how critical related work is to your study.
  • Approach
    • Describe HOW you conducted the STUDY.
    • Using a logical order of the study’s objectives, describe in more detail the ACTUAL work carried out.
    • Do NOT make it into mini presentations of various methods, tools, techniques you’ve used.
    • The focus should be on explaining WHY and HOW you apply a specific method or use a specific tool, model, algorithm in your study
    • Tentative size:
      • Paper: 30% of the paper, around 3 1/2 columns
      • Thesis: 20-30% of the manuscript
    • Results
      • Present WHAT your project work produced that shows to what extent you have achieved the OBJECTIVES
      • Illustrate artifacts that evidence the outcomes of the project work.
      • Explain what the artifacts mean: why they are important/critical to your STUDY.
    • Tentative size:
      • Paper: 30%
      • Thesis: 20-30%
  • Evaluation of the results
    • It is based on study objectives and evaluation criteria of the results
    • Present the evaluation approach based on which you could describe the “goodness” of the results
    • Tentative size:
      • Paper: 12-15%, around 2 columns of the paper
      • Thesis: 10-20%
  • Conclusion
    • Similar to the abstract, but uses past tense and focuses more on the results and evaluation.
    • Tentative size:
      • Paper/Thesis: 5-10% (paper: less than a column)
  • References
    • Paper: Include them on the 7th page of the paper
    • Thesis: Separate from the manuscript chapters
  • Appendix
    • Has additional sections for supplementary stuff that gives a more comprehensive view of your work and results.

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Master’s projects and theses are presented to Master’s Project Committee. Presentations are open to the public and announced to the department community. A presentation announcement includes project/thesis title and author, presentation date, location, and abstract. Copies of the announcement are posted on the 1st floor and communicated via email to all graduate students and department faculty members.

Presentations are scheduled in the 2nd to last week of the semester. Presentations’ schedule is communicated to the committee members by the course instructor.

Project Presentation Format

The duration of the project presentation is 25 - 35 minutes:

  • 20-25 minutes slide presentation and brief demo (5-10)
  • followed by 5-10 minutes discussion.

Slides Organization and Guidelines

Presentation slides must be judiciously designed and include exactly 8 slides

Slide(s) Number Duration Content
Title 1 1 min Has project title, author, project advisor, and Date.
Motivation and Goal 1 2 min Briefly describe the issue/problem the project addresses. Conclude with a clearly stated goal
Objectives 1 4-5 min Has clearly stated and very specific objectives presented in a bulleted list. Unpack the goal into the study’s objectives to ouline the plan that guided your work.
Approach 2-3 5-10 min Has tools, data sets, frameworks, techniques, and other resources needed to do the project work. You explain how you did the project and how you achieve the project’s objectives
Results 2-3 10 min Has evidence of the project deliverables, components, and functionality. You present and demonstrate what the project’s artifacts are and what they accomplish
Evaluation 1 4-5 min Has evaluation of the results. You explain to what degree the project achieved its objectives, including limitatioins and constraints.

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How to Develop Projet Paper or Thesis Manuscript

Overleaf Project

Overleaf, a cloud-based collaborative authoring tool, is used to draft your project paper/thesis manuscipt. The Computing Program has an Overleaf license that has review, track changes, and version control features.

Overleaf projects set up before the start of the semester are the places where you draft your paper project/thesis manuscript, collaborate wtih course instructor and faculty advisor, get feedback and iteratively develop the final version.

To get started:

  • COMP 898/899
    • Accept invite to the Overleaf project that has the starter files for your project paper or thesis manuscript
  • GRAD 900
    • It means you already have an Overleaf project set up that has last semester’s draft of your project paper/thesis manuscript.


Guidelines for formattting your thesis manuscript are maintained by the Graduate School. See manual in UNH Box at

The project paper formatting uses the ACM conference paper LaTeX template. ACM has partnered with Overleafto provide an ACM LaTeX authoring template. We have adapted the template and created an Overleaf starter project to wchih you and your advisor have access.

Iterative Development