Physics Senior Projects

Navigation + Search
Home / Senior Project Final Report Instructions

Senior Project Final Report Instructions

Senior Project Final Report Instructions

(last updated December 22, 2006 )

Writing a report of this kind is a substantial effort. You are strongly urged to have most of it done by Spring break (or the equivalent time for students finishing in the winter.) The final due date for the final report is as late is it can possibly be, already. The deadline can not be extended. You should assemble in advance things like the introduction, background and similar that can be written in advance of getting the final data. Adhering to this recommendation is your (and your advisor’s responsibility. We do not enforce it. We have no objection if you (we encourage you to) copy such elements as are still valuable, if you like verbatim, from your proposal, presentations or other things you may previously have authored for this course.

Your report should be written in a style appropriate for a Masters or Ph.D. thesis, but may be in the form of a journal article. We have no objection if you publish your work as submitted to us (even verbatim) to . It should include a comprehensive description of the physics involved and the equipment or mathematical techniques employed. With the results, discussion, abstract, conclusion, references, tables and figures, a proper final report will normally require at least 25 pages. Improper spelling or grammar will not be tolerated; papers with many such errors will be returned for revisions, and result in a worse grade. ( Use your spell checker!)

Your report should be provided electronically, in MS Word or PDF, or other approved format. It should be in a single-column, double-spaced, full-page format. It is our preference (but not requirement) that figures and similar be interspersed in the text as in a journal article: they may also simply appear at the end.

Your report should be written for an audience of other reasonably well informed senior-level physics majors. There should be enough background material for the reader to understand where the current work fits in with the research field in general. As per a famous quote, your report should be as long as necessary – and no longer. Your thesis should have the following components:

Title, Author, Affiliation (CWRU + address)

Abstract – typically 100 words or less.

Background about the general area of physics to set the scene for your work ( perhaps a page or two ).

References are to appear as in non-review journals, e.g. in the paper refer to Foldy et al. 22. Then, at the end of the paper, you list the references:

(22) Foldy, Leslie L. and Wouthuysen, Siegfried A. “On the Dirac Theory of Spin 1/2 Particles and Its Non-Relativistic Limit “ Phys. Rev. 78 29 (1950). The title of the paper and an http link to an electronic version of the reference such as http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRev.78.29, which is not (yet) standard in most journals (but is required for some proposals) is encouraged but not required. A link that (on campus or with VPN) you can click on to get the paper is fine, and there are also links in “end note” and “bib tex” and other bibliographic records.

Description of the equipment and/or mathematical techniques employed. The reader should be able to deduce exactly what you did. Figures, photos, illustrations can be very useful here. Each figure should have a figure caption and the axes must be clearly labeled with quantity and units.

The results of your work, with appropriate discussion of uncertainties and comparisons with other work. There are various ways to mix or separate results, discussion, and conclusions within a thesis; the decision about how best to do this is left to you. Think about how best to display your results; the proper graphs or plots can go far in clarifying your presentation. These same figures may be useful for your oral and poster presentations. Think about how the figures will look in your paper or projected on a screen.

Follow-through : A thesis often ends with some discussion of the continuation of the work, of lessons learned, of improvements which could be made. (no excuses, mea culpa’s , or finger-pointing blame here, please.)

Acknowledgements . Here is your chance to thank your collaborators, and to make clear who did what.

Engineering Physics Students only (but required for them)

Engineering Physics Senior Capstone Design Elements

Senior Engineering Physics students must provide an appendix to their senior project final report documenting design aspects addressed in their senior project. The design element may take a number of forms depending on the nature of the capstone project. Design elements can include: 1) Design of an experimental approach to the scientific problem. 2) Design of a numerical or theoretical approach to a scientific problem. 3) Design of an instrument, apparatus, procedure or process. 4) Design of experimental control or data analysis software. Engineering design is the process of devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. This process addresses open-ended problems that have a number of approaches to tackle the problem within multiple constraints.

To this end, appendix should contain the following sections:
1. Problem statement
2. Constaints (List of multiple constraints, specifications)
3. Approaches (Potential approaches to the problem that were considered)
4. Analysis (Analysis of approaches and rationale for selection of an approach,
including information on previous work that you discovered)
5. Iterations (Description of iterations based on results of testing an approach)
6. Standards (Involvement of standards in your project such as instrument interfaces, such as GPIB, computer languages such as LabView, Matlab, commercial software packages,etc)

For further information on the design process, please see the appropriate Course Document on the course Blackboard site: “Engineering Design Process” by Seyyed Khandani, Ph.D. Note that this document refers to engineering design in an
industrial context. Nonetheless, the process described can also be applied in many instances in scientific research, indicating that engineering problems are often part of the scientific enterprise. Thus, the purpose of this appendix is for you to appreciate and recognize engineering problems and the design process and to document your design activities.

Page last modified: May 31, 2016