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Interdisciplinary Materials Science Program

Research Rotations

First year students will participate in a series of three research rotations. Each research rotation will last 10 weeks with the expectation that approximately 9 hours per week should be devoted to working with the research group. Since the semesters are almost 15 weeks in length, the second rotation would span the end of the fall and the beginning of the spring semesters. A report summarizing the research conducted during the rotation will be submitted upon completion of each 10-week rotation to the IMS director and shared with the faculty member who advised the research rotation. The report should be written as if the work were to be submitted to an appropriate conference related to the field of study.

Report Requirements

Format. The report should be 1 to 3 single-spaced pages in length (including figures and tables) formatted as: title, author list (you as first author along with any students that helped with your training and your advisors), author affiliations, date, and short abstract (~200 words). Use 11- or 12-point size in a Roman font.

Content. Typical sections include:

  • Introduction --- What is the genesis of your topic and the purpose of the research? How will this research advance science and technology; what potential benefit could it have for society? What scientific question are you trying to answer? Place your work in the context of what has already been done. Include a few key literature references with a bibliography list at the end of the report.
  • Methods and Theory --- Not all reports will include both methods and theory. What experimental or computational methods did you use? If you worked in two laboratories, clearly indicate what you did in each one. Describe the procedures, strengths and limitations of the techniques.
  • Results and Discussion --- This section should summarize any experimental data or modeling results. Figures with captions should be described using text in this section. Contrary to typical article submissions, please provide clear attribution or delineation of work between you and your collaborators. What part of the work was performed by others in the research group?
  • Conclusions, Acknowledgments and References --- The conclusions section should not be merely a restatement or summary of results. Instead, think about what claims you can make about your work that were not known before it was performed. How does your work change the way technology will be developed?

Style. Make sure the report tells a compelling story. Every good scientific article clearly explains in the introduction a scientific question to be answered in the article and places the question into context of what the community already knows. The methods or theory section then describes how the effort attempts to address the question posed in the introduction. Finally, the results and discussion provide the answer to your question with a logical development of ideas. Because every story is different, feel free to modify the structure of your report to best tell the story.