Introduction to Cognitive Science

Project Report Instructions

Last Update: 30 October 2007

Note: NEW or UPDATED material is highlighted

  1. General information applicable to all reports:

    1. All reports are due no later than

        12:00 noon, Monday, Dec. 10

      1. If I am in my office, please give me your report in person.
      2. If I am not in my office, please put your report in my mailbox in Bell 211.
      3. If I am not in my office and Bell 211 is locked, please give me your report as soon as possible later that day or the next.
      4. Please do not slip them under my office door.
      5. Please do not send your report by email; I will need hardcopy.

    2. Please read the instructions on my "How to Write" website for information on formatting your report and for guidelines on proper citation formats and on grammar, punctuation, etc.


      1. Your report must be on 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
      2. It should be no longer than 10-15 pages (not counting the bibliography or any pages containing a computer program),
        i.e., approximately 2500-4000 words.
      3. It should be double-spaced.
      4. It should be printed on only one side of the page.
      5. Your report must be stapled in the upper left-hand corner.

        • Do not use folders or covers, unless your report is too thick to be stapled.

      6. It must not include the printer's cover page.
      7. The first page should include the following information, centered:

        1. descriptive title (e.g., not: "Cog Sci Project")
        2. your name
        3. course number (e.g., CSE 575, APY 526, etc.)
        4. date completed (e.g., Dec. 10, or whatever).

        followed by the abstract (see below)
        followed immediately by the body of your paper (which does not have to start on a new page).

      8. I strongly suggest that you learn to use LaTeX and ispell. In any case, please be sure to spell-check and proofread your paper.

      9. You should write for an interdisciplinary, cognitive-science audience (e.g., your fellow students in this course who are from other departments from yours). Consequently, don't use any unexplained technical jargon (beyond what has been introduced in lectures).

      10. All reports must make it crystal-clear to the reader in what way the topic explores interdisciplinary cognitive science. I.e., it should make explicit which 2 or 3 cognitive science disciplines you are focusing on, or how your topic fits into cognitive science (which, by definition, is interdisciplinary and not merely cognitive psychology or (cognitive) linguistics, etc.).

      11. Don't use "box and arrow" diagrams without fully explaining them: What does each box represent? What does each (kind of) arrow represent?

      12. Be sure to give the full source of any quotations. The best way to do this is by giving the author's last name + year + page reference; see "How to Write" for details on how to cite references.

      13. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE !!

        For advice on how to avoid accidental (or intentional :-) plagiarism, link to: "Academic Integrity" (see, especially, "What is Plagiarism [at Indiana University]?" (a great, interactive site where you can test your understanding of what counts as plagiarism) and my own "Plagiarism" webpage).

        Also be sure to re-read the section of the syllabus that discusses the penalties for plagiarism.

    3. Abstract:

      1. Every paper should begin with an abstract: a 1-paragraph summary of what the reader is about to read.

      2. This is the sort of information you might find yourself having to give, extemporaneously, in a job interview, in an informal discussion at a conference or convention, or even in a "real" job when your boss sees you in the hall or even in the mall :-)

      3. The abstract should be completely self-contained; i.e., it should be understandable by someone who is not familiar with your topic, as well as by someone who does not bother to read the rest of your paper!

      4. And your report should not assume that the reader has read the abstract!

        • Consequently, your paper should repeat—and probably begin with—any important information from the abstract.

  2. Special instructions for programming projects:

      In the real world, you will be expected to write papers, either for presentation at conferences, publication in journals, or presentation to your boss or co-workers. Users and other people want to read about the program, what it does, how it works, etc., and to see it in action. Consequently, the main product of your work is the paper (including, but not limited to, the demo)! In the paper, you should say what you have done, and say (in English summary, not in programming detail) how you have done it.

      Thus, the final report for a programming project must include:

    1. a technical report, in the style of a paper in a conference proceedings, that describes the theory and your implementation, and

    2. one or more appendices containing annotated sample runs and commented code. Sample runs must be annotated so that a reader can figure out what it is doing and why. Code must be fully commented/documented so that a reader can figure out how it works and can modify it if necessary.

      For an example of such a report, see Goldfain 2003.

  3. Grading Criteria:

Copyright © 2007 by William J. Rapaport (