Syllabus for CS7300: Introduction to Research in Computer Science

Course Description

This course is designed to develop research and communication skills for Ph.D. students and is a credit/no credit course. Topics covered include research processes, research methods, ethics, conducting literature reviews, critiquing papers, preparing research proposals, faculty research presentations, and common software tools and platforms available for conducting applied computing research


The first objective is to provide fundamental computer science research skills for new Ph.D. students so that they can be on a trajectory for fruitful research careers. The second objective is to engage new Ph.D. students in research as early as possible. The third objective is to provide opportunities for new Ph.D. students to learn about the areas of research of the doctoral faculty before permanently aligning with one.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:
  • Explain the scientific method as it applies to computer science research
  • Recognize research ethics
  • List research projects conducted by all doctoral faculty
  • Locate, document, and critically evaluate literature related to their research
  • Communicate research results
  • Devise tools and infrastructure for conducting quantitative and qualitative research in computer science
  • Write detailed literature review of a research topic
  • Evaluate research and provide feedback
  • Develop an in-depth engagment with a doctoral faculty by completing a rotation project with the doctoral faculty

Course Structure

Guest speakers will teach some classes. Some classes will be joint with cs5300. The class will meet on Friday from 10:00 am-12:50pm.

Recommended Textbook

Zobel Justin, “Writing for Computer Science”, Springer-Verlag, 3rd Edition, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-4471-6639-9 (eBook)

Suggested papers

  • Nick Feamster and Alexander Gray, “Can great research be taught?: independent research with cross-disciplinary thinking and broader impact”, Proceedings of the 39th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer Science education, Oregon, USA, 2008.
  • Johnson C., “Basic Research Skills in Computing Science”, Glasgow Interactive Systems Group (GIST), Department of Computer Science, Glasgow University,
  • National Academy of Engineering. On Being A Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995, ISBN: 0-309-05196-7


  • Introduction to the Ph.D. program and its requirements (1 week)
  • Research processes, recognizing innovative ideas and creating innovative ideas (1 week)
  • Presentation of faculty research (3 weeks)
  • Effective literature search and critique of research papers (2 weeks)
  • Communicating your research (1 week)
  • Computer science research methods and tools (practical survival skills) (1 weeks)
  • Research Ethics (1 week)
  • Communicate and showcase your rotation projects (3 weeks)

Attendance Policy

Students must attend 80% of the scheduled classes. Core classes indicated by an '*' cannot be missed by any student.


This is a credit or no credit course. To obtain a credit, all assigned homework must be completed. The main homework is the rotation project which is designed to bootstrap your research journey as well as to identify an advisor. If you cannot identify an advisor by the time you accumulated 27 credit hours, you will be dismissed from the program.

Rotation Project (70%)

Students must perform a first-year research rotation project with at least one doctoral faculty. This can be in the form of a literature survey paper, implementation of a tool, setting up a benchmark, or a detailed investigation of a framework or tool that is related to a research topic of interest. A rotation can range from five to ten weeks depending on the nature of the problem. A short rotation project allows students to work with more than one doctoral faculty during the semester. If a student continues the second rotation with the same faculty member, it is assumed that this faculty will be the dissertation advisor. An entering Ph.D. student may opt out of this rotation requirement with mutual consent. In this case, the sponsoring faculty should notify the program director that he/she has agreed to be the permanent dissertation advisor of the student. For those students who opt out of the rotation, the end product of this rotation project is still the same as others, this means a poster presentation at the end of teh semester.

Research paper summary/critique (10%)

Class presentation (10%)

In class HW (10%)

Academic Policies

All correspondence about the course will be posted on the course webpage. Students are responsible for checking this site regularly for latest information. Refer to TXSTATE’s official website for regulation regarding dropping classes. This is a required class for the PhD program, so please consult the program director if you are thinking of dropping.

The CS department has a strict policy regarding 'Incomplete grade'. It has to be approved by the chairman and thus an 'Incomplete grade' will only be granted under unexpected and truly severe situations, which must be supported by some official documents.

Except where explicitly and specially allowed (such as group project), all work submitted in class is expected to be your individual work. Plagiarism will not be tolerated and if detected will result in an automatic ‘F’ grade. Please refer to for Texas State’s Honor Code.

It is your responsibility to be familiar with the University Policy on dropping classes as described in the catalog and the TXSTATE website (see, to observe relevant deadlines, and to follow proper procedures for dropping classes.