Initial Reflection

To begin this deliverable, please create an account on Overleaf, the online site we will use to author scientific documents using the \(\LaTeX\) markup language. Once you have created your account, please open the template project. This project contains a collection of files in which you will write your thesis. For now, the one you need to focus on is journal.tex. This is your research journal. I have populated a few placeholder entries for you already, which you can overwrite and replace with your reflections. To edit the document, type in plaintext on the left. Once you’d like to see how the document actually looks, click the “Compile” button (or cmd/ctrl + s). You’ll need to wait a few seconds, and then you’ll see the document on the right.

Please write two entries in your research journal on Overleaf. At this point, it’s not necessary for you to worry about the details of managing formatting in \(\LaTeX\) provided that your documents are readable. We will learn much more about how to create beautiful \(\LaTeX\) documents soon

Once you’ve completed your reflection, compile the document, download the PDF, and submit it on Canvas.

Initial Reflection 1: My Scientific Autobiography

Please write roughly one page for your scientific autobiography. In your autobiography, please address the following questions:

  • Please describe your history as a learner and practitioner of computer science. You don’t have to list out all the courses you’ve ever taken, but please consider a few things like: how did you decide to study computer science?
  • What’s a course that’s had a major impact on you?
  • When has CS been the hardest or most discouraging for you? When has it been the most joyful or empowering? How has your view and understanding of CS changed over the years?
  • If your thesis is connected to another area of study like math, political science, etc., please share a bit about your journey in that area as well.

Your autobiography is in essay format, but you don’t need to attend too much to style. A clear, grammatical, and candidly reflective autobiography is sufficient.

In the spirit of sharing, here is the mathematics autobiography that I wrote for CSCI 0200 in Fall ’23. Since I am a mathematical scientist, this is also more-or-less my scientific autobiography as well.

Initial Reflection 2: Statement of Interest

Next, please write another half-page or so about your interest in writing a thesis.

  • Why are you writing a senior thesis in computer science?
  • What is your broad topic area? How did you become interested in it?
  • What is something that excites you about writing a thesis?
  • What is something about which you are feeling nervous or uncertain?
  • What are your goals for your senior thesis?
    • What are your goals for what you produce in terms of research?
    • What are your goals for how you will learn and grow?
    • What kinds of evidence or data would tell you whether or not you had achieved your goals?

Ongoing Reflections

During Winter Term, you should update your research journal to the tune of half a page at least once per day. Whenever a reflection is due on the schedule, you should add an update to your journal in which you reflect on the process of your work since the last reflection. Your reflection should include:

  • One paragraph in which you describe the work that you did since the last reflection.
    • Approximately how many hours did you spend working on your thesis, including 702 meetings and advisor meetings?
    • What did you spend your time doing?
    • What is something that you learned about the topic of your thesis?
  • One paragraph in which you reflect on the experience of working on your thesis.
    • Describe something that was exciting, motivating, or successful about your experience since your last reflection.
    • Describe something that was challenging, demotivating, or disappointing about your experience since your last reflection.
    • What is something that you learned about yourself as a scholar from your recent experience? You can talk about time management strategies, motivation, finding environments for effective writing, etc.
  • One (short) paragraph in which you describe what you’re going to do next, and why.

© Phil Chodrow, 2023