Managing your BSc honours Project

As with the previous post on referencing academic work, there is only informal information on another aspect of the (4th year honours) thesis (project) at UKZN: project management. This was not so much of an issue as long as there were just a few students, but the numbers are up and repeating suggestions umpteen times is rather time-consuming. I have prepared a first version of a document on some general aspects on thesis project management, which is somewhat tailored to our computer science honours students (though many aspects can be useful to MSc/PhD thesis management). The latest version of the Thesis Project Management is available online.

It first describes what activities one generally has to do, and then provides guidelines for how those activities can be planned in a schedule and managed such that the chance of completing your project is higher. The former includes the core activities such as exploration, problem definition, proposal, main research/development, and the production of your thesis, and several sub-tasks. The latter addresses aspects like milestones, the ‘onion approach’ to prioritizing your work, Gantt charts, keeping a project log, and how to avoid and deal with delays. Both sections contain several examples to illustrate the (sub-)activities and their planning.

It is an evolving document that eventually will end up in the complimentary “research methods” syllabus we intend to develop for next year’s students who will have to do our honours project module (COMP700), so comments and suggestions for improvements are most welcome.

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