Table of Contents


1 Introduction

I like to work with students on topics where I bring the techniques and they (or a co-advisor) bring the problems from a field I am not familiar with. The techniques that I can bring to such projects generally are

See my proposals page for a list of ideas of topics, keeping in mind that I require students to adapt such ideas in proposals of their own.

2 Methodology

I require my students to write their own proposal: the idea is that this is their project, and that they must be the ones convinced that it can be done, so that they are more motivated to resolve problems than if the success is based on my own conviction that the project is doable. I thoroughly implement the following methodology, as the few times where I did not lead to many frustration for both parties:

Before starting the project,
we meet (single session of 30mn to 1h) or exchange correspondance to
  1. identify common interests, and
  2. outline together a draft proposal of less than one page.
To start the project,
the student must write the formal proposal (which length depends on the scope of the project), specifying its
(i.e. what is already available, what we already know);
(i.e. what the question we want to answer is);
measures of success
(which objective criteria we both agree will characterize a success of the project); and
(vague milestones and corresponding deadlines).
During the project,
  1. the student updates weekly an ongoing report, initiated from the proposal;
  2. I review and annotate weekly the additions to the ongoing report;
  3. we both meet weekly to assess the progress made and re-evaluate the objectives of the project if necessary, even if no progress has been made.
At the end of the project,
  1. the student extracts from the ongoing report the raw content of a final proposal;
  2. I review one to three iterations of it;
  3. the student submit the final report to whatever external evaluator is required.

3 Salary

I like to give students a salary for their work, as I found that it made them more accountable than if they are working just for a grade, but students should make sure not to choose the project for the money. My funding by levels is as follows:

Doctoral students
come with their own funding, which I top up;
Master students
are paid yearly from my grants;
Engineering students
are paid semesterly from my grants;
Undergrad internships
are paid monthly from my grants.

3.1 Salary Grid

The salary and length of each work depend of the level. The following array gives a base. In the past I sometimes paid much more than the amounts indicated in this grid, to adapt to the skills of the student.

Level total length /month /semester /year Total
Undergraduate Internship 3 months 50 150 DNA 150
Engineering Thesis 5+6 months 50,100 250,600 850 850
Magister in Computer Science 12 months 100 600 1200 1200
PhD 3 years 150 900 1800 5400

Note that the amount indicated for PhD thesis is a top-off on the funding they get from Conicyt.

In addition to those salaries, each student gets funding to travel to one conference a year if they co-author a scientific publication in a conference, and optinal traveling funding for visiting other universities if participating in a collaboration.

3.2 Funds availability

The availability of such funds depends very much on the topic of the internship. The following array gives an idea of the availability of position per topics:

  Funding Undergraduate Engineering Magister in PhD in
  Source Internship Thesis Computer Science CS
Adaptive Geometric Algorithms Fondecyt [2015-2018] Available Available Available Available
Compressed Data Structures Fondecyt [2012-2014] Available Available Available Available
Human Computer Interface FII Available Available    
Pedagogy Experiments FII+EI2001 Available Available    
Outreach in CS Pedagogy Fondecyt+Nucleo Available      

4 Reviews

I have been using tablet pcs to review student's essays and submitted scientifical articles since 2004 when I bought my first tablet, a venerable Electrovaya. I duly annotate the pdf documents I review in various colors using Xournal, an open source software. (I used to use PDF Annotator for windows but moved to Xournal when I started using tablets under Linux)

4.1 Format of Submissions for reviews

I make the following requests about the drafts that I review:

I review on my computer, and keep a copy of my annotations: send me a digital file, not a printed version. I can print it if I need (to read in the plane or bus).
PDF file
It must be in pdf so that I can annotate it with Xournal. If I am sent files in postscript, in open office format (.odt) or worse in word format (.doc or .docx), I need to fire an additional application to export it to pdf before annotating it: let the submitter do that.
YYYY-MM-DD-TYPE-TitleInCamlCase-Author.pdf filename
Name your file with the year YYYY, month MM and day DD: I archive all the drafts submitted to me, along with my annotations (it is useful to compare past and present versions).
48h delay
Give me your draft at least 24h before our meeting, and better even 48h before it. Several reasons for it:
  1. I want to review your draft before we meet: no sense in you wasting your time watching me reading your report during the 15 first minutes of our meeting.
  2. I schedule my reviews in the early morning, before I read my email. If you send your report by email the night before, chances are I won't read it before our meeting.
  3. If I receive more than one student report, I might review only one: if you send it 48h in advance, you maximize your chances that I will review it before the meeting.
page numbers
Make sure that the pages are numbered.
Highlight what should be reviewed
If your document's length is more than 4 pages long, list on the front page which pages I should read in priority, and either
  • add their rank among the five pages to review clearly on the top of each page to be reviewed, or
  • highlight in grey (or any color that I don't use) the part of the pages that you want me to review (e.g. use Xournal for that).
Wide margins, double lines
If it's not the final draft for a submission, let it be wide margins, and with double interspace between lines, so that I have space to comment. It will be more readable for you too! (e.g. in LaTeX use \usepackage{setspace}\doublespacing)

4.2 Frequency and Volume of reviews

For sanity's sake, I limit the frequency and volume that the students (and colleagues) can require from me to five pages per week.

  • The 5 pages limit is to avoid having students receiving their 10 or 100 pages essay annotated from me, skiming it quickly to implement (some of) my comments, and quickly resending their 10 or 100 pages to review: this can't work. Instead, I require students to send me the whole document but to indicate which five pages (not necessarily continuous) I should focus on (it's up to me to decide whether I have the time and the interest to review more).
  • The 1 review per week limit is supposed to give the time to students to request other people (e.g. fellow students, or co-advisor) to review their work (e.g. for English mistakes) before they send their essay to me.

4.3 Legend of my annotations

I follow the following legend:

  • Things to correct:
    Grey Highligthing
    to Rephrase
  • Annotations to help me navigate the report:
    Yellow Highligthing
    Green Highligthing
    Red Highligthing
    I think it's wrong but I am not sure.

Those colors allow me to be picky and to think less when I add annotations: I note every correction I can think of (style, grammar, correction) and color them distinctly depending on the importance of the correction. This turned out to be faster than thinking whether the correction is important enough to be mentioned or not, before writing it.

I don't expect students or authors to implement all the blue suggestions (they sometimes depend on the style, or are a consequence of a misunderstanding on my part). I do expect students or authors to implement or justify the non implementation of all the red corrections.

5 Communication

5.1 Dropbox (or equivalent) for Students

If you are one of my students, you will regularly send me drafts to review. Rather than sending them to me by email, please set-up two dropbox folders with the following name, where XXX is replaced by your name in Caml case (e.g. JeremyBarbay), and share them with me:

You will put your draft (e.g. YYYY-TYPE-TitleInCamlCase-Author.pdf) there, and this folder will jump to the top of my list of dropbox inboxes, ordered by update date.
  • Once I start annotating it, a file with extension .xoj (e.g. YYYY-TYPE-TitleInCamlCase-Author.pdf.xoj) will appear in your dropbox folder.
  • If you find a mistake in your submission, and the file with extension .xoj is not in your dropbox, you can still correct your draft and update your file in the folder without me having to know how many versions of your draft you submitted.
Once I am done annotating your draft, I will
  • export my annotations to a file with extension .pdf.pdf (e.g. YYYY-TYPE-TitleInCamlCase-Author.pdf.pdf) in this other folder (so that you can have a similar type of list of inboxes, and this folder similarly jump to the top when updated) and
  • move your original file and my annotations to my folder ForMeetings, to discuss together at our next meeting.
  • I don't expect you to implement all the corrections suggested before our next meeting, but it often speeds up the meeting if you have a look at them and identify the ones you wish to discuss the most.

5.2 Git

If you are one of my students, we will collaborate on the writing of a document together, let it be a submission, an internship report or a thesis. I request you to put all the files of your project under control version (preferably using git), and to share those with me:

  • My interests in forcing you to use git are:
    1. you will indicate in the git commit comments WHAT corrections you implemented and WHEN you did them. The git log will give a good summary of what you did during the week, that we can review. Make sure you commit often, and write explicit (if concise) comments; and to "push" the day before we meet!
    2. I will be able to recover at any time extracts of the latest version of your thesis or report, to be used when I advertize our common work to colleagues, for setting-up grant applications, collaborations and visits.
  • Your interest in using git should be:
    1. You can use it to synchronize your work between your computer at home and your computer at the office, so that you don't have to carry your laptop or a USB key with your work.
    2. Your work will be backed up on the server so that if the computer you use crashes you still have it.
    3. You learning how to use a control version system. It is an essential tool not only in software engineering, not only in any kind of electronic collaboration, but even in work as a single author. Learning to use it early helps to focus on more important stuff later.
    4. In case of emergency (e.g. you get sick before an important deadline), I can access the files of your project, eventually edit them, and submit it in your place.
  • The main interest in having you using git for your drafts, reports or tesis are NOT in
    • me annotating the documents in git, or me compiling your latex files: you still have to compile it yourself and put it in the dropbox destined to this effect; nor in
    • me editing directly the documents: the thesis or report should be entirely yours, and even for documents that we co-author you will learn better about writing if you are aware, because you implement them, of each changes applied to your document.

So don't be disapointed if I do not use our git copies to edit the documents: I will keep it for extreme emergencies only!

6 HowTos

6.1 Write a proposal

  1. Structure
    • Title
    • Problem identified
    • Material Available
    • Solution proposed
    • Draft of Calendar
    • Evaluation Conditions
    • Mode of Documentation
      • Source Code
      • Report
        • in English,
        • made available on arxiv.org, and potentially
        • submitted to an international scientific venue, preferably peer-reviewed.
  2. Examples
    1. 2011, "Repositorium for Teachers", Carlos Gajardo   rPEDAGOGY rHCI cI
    2. 2012, "Boot-Strapping Database en Equipos Mobiles", Carlos Gajardo   rHCI cE

6.2 Write a project journal

  1. Structure
    1. Analysis of the current state of the problem;
    2. Programming of an alpha version;
    3. First Evaluation by users;
    4. Improvement of the alpha version to the beta version;
    5. Final Evaluation by users;
    6. Finalisation of the report, including draft of proposal for future potential internships by other students.

6.3 Write a report

  1. Structure
    1. Title
    2. Abstract (1 paragraph to 1 page)
    3. Introduction
      • Definition of the problem
      • Motivation of the problem
      • New Question explored by this project
      • Summary of Results
    4. Description of the Solution
    5. Evaluation of the Solution
    6. Conclusion
      1. Discussion of the impact of the solution presented
        • Pros
        • Cons
      2. Suggestions of topics for future students
  2. Examples
    1. 2011, "Propuestas para taller en Secundarios", Enzo Alonso   rPEDAGOGY cI
    2. 2012, "Boot-Strapping Database en Equipos Mobiles", Carlos Gajardo   rHCI cE

6.4 Present a project

  1. Structure
    1. Title
    2. Introduction
      • Problem
      • Motivation
      • Hypothesis
    3. Solution
    4. Evaluation
    5. Conclusion
  2. Examples
    1. 2012, "Boot-Strapping Database en Equipos Mobiles", Carlos Gajardo   rHCI cE