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Progress Reports

This is the template for progress report.

Four Essential Elements in Progress Reports

  1. What problem you are solving?
  2. Why are you solving this problem? How is it relevant to the team's purpose?
  3. What have you done? What is the result? What is the evidence?
  4. Why do you do it this way?

You need to provide details. Use figures, drawings, photos, equations, screenshots, source code ... to explain.

Honesty, Integrity, and Trust

Honesty, integrity, and trust are the foundation of research. Never lie. Never fake data.

It is understandable that you encounter problems that are harder than expected. It is understandable that your other commitment may prevent you from making enough progress. It is understandable that unexpected things happen. Be honest. If you have not made progress, tell the truth. If something does not work, explain what happens. 

Common Mistakes

The undergraduate program at Purdues does not require research. Hence, you should join a research team only if you want to solve research programs. You need to make progress in solving research problems. 

One of the most difficult parts of being a beginning researcher is to understand how progress is measured. Let's first review what students typically do in classrooms: attend lectures, take notes, submit homework assignments, answer exam questions. In many (probably most) cases, all students in the same classes have the same homework assignments and the same exam questions. This is the source of a lot of confusion for many students: they think everyone in the world is solving exactly the same problem described in the homework or the exams. The implication is that many students deeply believe that everyone in the world is solving exactly the same problem. Everyone knows the problem. Everyone has read the same textbooks. Everyone has seen the same exam questions. Also, professors are supposed to know the answers because professors write the homework assignments and the exam questions. 

No organization will put 100 people sitting together solving the same problem and the answer is already known by the "instructor". 

In many cases, students can get good grades without speaking a word in class. In fact, some students think speaking (asking questions or answering questions) disrupt lectures and should be discouraged.

"Classroom environment is not real." Please read it 10 times and understand the implications. 

Many students never realize that classroom environment is not real. Many students would be completely surprised that other people solve different problems and that professors do not have answers ready for research problems.

If you are in a research team, you must become an expert in the problem you are solving and nobody else should know as much as you do. If someone else knows as much as you (or more than you), by definition, you are unnecessary and should solve a different problem.

Good Progress Presentations

Here is a list of suggestions about giving good presentations:
  • Know the audience.
  • Practice. Make sure all content can be explained clearly. The connections among different materials need to be logic and smooth.
  • Meaure time. A speech should uses approximatley 80% total time and leave 20% for QA. If the presentation is 15 minutes, speak for 12 minutes and leave 3 minutes for QA. 
  • Start with a clear title and your name. The title should be the problem you are solving.
  • Explain details. You must be an expert in solving the specific problems. Provide details so that others can learn from you.
  • Use visual aids effectively. Use figures, drawings, photos, equations, screenshots, source code ... to explain. DO NOT USE A LOT OF WORS.
  • Remove all irrelevant decoration (anything that is irrelevant to the research problem or your contributions). 

Poster Examples