Spring 2009   CSCI 530

Term Paper

Proposal due 11:45PM 4/17/2009

Paper due 11:45PM 4/29/2009

Term Paper
For your term paper, please write a 5 page paper (an extended abstract), on a topic of your choosing, subject to the following constraints. Your paper must cite 3 published peer-reviewed papers each authored (or co-authored) by at least one of the following authors:

These authors will be referred to as approved authors below.

In this paper, you are expected to present a coherent idea (which does not have to be original) and support the idea with references (citations). You can have many references, but at least three of them must be authored or co-authored by an approved author and be published in a peer-reviewed journal, conference, symposium, or a workshop (books, technical reports, web articles, and whitepapers are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, do not count here). Magazine articles (such as those published in Communications of the ACM, IEEE Spectrum, IEEE Computer Magazine, IEEE Security & Privacy) also do not count. What you should not do is to say, "I've read the following 3 papers and here's what they said."

Please focus of the technical aspects of security systems as oppose to social, political, and economic aspects. The intended audience for your paper should be someone who has just completed CS 530.

The term paper must be 5 pages or less, with a list of references which may extend beyond the end of the 5th page. (Although you may have appendices beyond the 5 page limit but you should not expect your reader to read the appendices.) The smallest acceptable point size is 10. The formating requirement is fairly flexible. You may format the paper in single column, double columns, singly spaced, or doubly spaced. Please note that the only allowed file formats are PDF, Postscript, and HTML. Please name your submission as either termpaper.txt, termpaper.pdf,, or termpaper.html, respectively.

Citations (or references) must be done properly. Please use the same format as the reading list for this class (except that you can use numbers for identifiers).

Term Paper Proposal
You are expected to submit a term paper proposal. Please write a short paragraph or two describing the main idea of your term paper and what references you plan to use. You must include the required 3 references by an approved author.

Please write your proposal in ASCII text and e-mail it to the TA (no attachments please). The approval will come from the TA. The approval is mainly about approving the required 3 references. You may submit your proposal as early as you want and you may start working on the term paper as soon as your proposal is approved.

Although your proposal will not be graded, you will lose 20% of your term paper score if you do not submit a proposal that meets the reference requirement by the proposal deadline. (Regarding the 20 points mentioned above, if some of your references meet the requirements by the proposal deadline, you may get partial credit. So, it's not all or nothing.)

Term Paper
(To be read after you have received feedback regarding your proposal.)

You must now write a paper on the topic you selected in your proposal. The purpose of the term paper is for you to become an expert on the topic you selected. The term paper should be written so that it conveys information to the reader. When grading the paper we will ask ourselves whether other students in the class might learn about the topic you choose by reading your paper. The paper should contain original (i.e., your own) analysis of the papers you choose to cover, and ideally suggest directions for future research on the topic.

In writing your paper you should use the several assigned readings from the course as a guide of what is expected of you. You should also use the papers in the readings as a guide to what is expected in terms of properly citing other works.

We realize that some of the students in CSci530 have not been required to submit research papers in other classes that they have taken. For those of you who have not written a research paper before, we urge you to utilize the resources of the Engineering Writing Center or the USC Writing Center.

Grading Guidelines
I will assign a letter grade to your term paper first. This sets up a baseline score. Then I may add or subtract points from the baseline, depending on various criteria.

Generally, the a term paper would fall into one of the following categories:

Grade Points   Rationale
  50   very well written and clear paper, good technical depth
A-  44   fairly well written paper, got the point through, probably not enough technical depth
B+  36   so-so paper, not very exciting, does not make a clear point, looks like a laundry list or an enumeration of facts, very little technical depth
  30   not much to say or poorly written, doesn't look like much time was spent on it, no technical depth
B-  24   (bad)
C+  16   (worse)
  10   (really bad)
The maximum score for the term paper is 50 and the minimum score is 1.
Additional Resources
The following is a list of links on security related conferences.
Just to itemize a few things that I'm looking for in your final term paper:
  1. A good paper.

  2. Clearly written and technically sound.

  3. Have technical depth (and not just some high-level relatively trivial ideas).

  4. Nice presentation and critical in evaluating your idea.

  5. The paper should try to "say something" or "make a point" (have your friends read it, if they don't "get it", you need to make your point clearer).

  6. Demonstration that you have read and understood your references.

  7. You must give citations properly.
Things to avoid:
  1. Your paper should not look like an enumeration of facts.

  2. Your paper should not look like a laundry list or a table of contents for another paper!

  3. Your paper should not be a short version of another paper. (You should not take your 3 references, merge them in a trivial way, keep the basic structures, and just shorten the paragraphs.)

  4. Since your intended audience is someone who has just completed CS 530, you should not spend too much time describing materials that were well covered in the lectures.

  5. You must not plagiarize. You should write the paper from scracth using your own words. You should not copy sentenses from other papers and simply rewrite each sentense individually.
Since the term paper will be an extended abstract, I wouldn't say that I expect great depth. So, you don't need to look for something that no one understands! :-)
Important Submission Notes
The term paper must be submitted electronically. You must follow the Electronic Submission Guidelines when you submit your term paper. Please note that this is a brand new procedure and is very different from procedures you are use to.

Late submissions will receive severe penalties. Due to clock skews, electronic submissions of projects and homeworks assignments will be accepted within 15 minutes after the specified deadlines without penalties. If you submit within the next 24 hours, you will receive 75% of your grade. Although in the first 50 minutes of this period, you will only lose 1% of your grade every 2 minutes. You will receive a score of zero after the first 24 hours (and your assignment will not be graded).

All submissions will be timestamped by the submission server and receipts will be issued. Whether your submission arrived to the server by the deadline is determined by the timestamp. Please keep your receipts.

Miscellaneous Hints
  • If you don't know what to put in your paper, pretend for a moment that you were reading your paper. What would you like to know about the topic?

  • Ask your computer science friends to read your paper and ask for feedback. If they fall asleep, didn't find anything interesting, or didn't understand why you would write such a paper, you probably need to improve your paper.

[Last updated Sat Sep 19 2020]    [Please see copyright regarding copying.]