RSI 2012

The 2012 Research Science Institute

 RSI 2012 Home > Assignments

Final Paper

Final Paper Guidelines


Your final paper for RSI should be accessible and attractive to an intelligent person who is not an expert in your field. If you're a mathematician, imagine writing for a biologist. If you're a biologist, imagine writing for a mathematician.


Your paper should be 12-16 pages long. This count does not include figures, tables, bibliography, or appendices. If you're using Word, your paper needs to be double-spaced, Times or Times New Roman, and in 12 pt font. All margins should be precisely 1 inch = 2.54 cm; no more, no less.


The initial paper submission is due Saturday, July 28th. Papers are due at 4 pm. Print three copies of your draft. Give two to your tutor and keep the other for buddy reading. The printers will probably jam as the deadline approaches, so print early!

The submission for publication is due Tuesday, July 31st. Papers are due at 5 pm. Print three copies to give to your tutor. Again, the printers will probably jam as the deadline approaches, so print early!

These deadlines are not flexible. Tutors, TAs, and nobodies have many papers to read and very little time to read them. In order to give you the best feedback possible as quickly as possible, we must have your papers on time. Earlier drafts are encouraged.

Submission Instructions

On Saturday, all you have to do is print three copies. On Tuesday, submit electronically and then, after approval of your electronic submission, print three copies. To try to submit your final paper, type papersubmit in the Terminal. This will submit all LaTeX and Word documents in your ~/RSI/Paper directory.

After you submit your final paper, you need "approval" from staff. What this means is that you should not log off after submitting. Instead, wait for a Zephyr from a staff member telling you that your paper has been approved. If your paper is not approved, then you will have to fix your errors and re-submit before 5pm. Corrections will not be accepted after 5pm, so it is in your best interest to submit no later than 4pm, to give you a full hour for potential corrections. After these corrections, you may print three copies.

LaTeX Guidelines

Remember to work within your Paper directory on Athena.

  • Create a cover page in cover.tex. Double-check that the date appears as July 31, 2012.
  • Write an abstract (technical summary) in abstract.tex. Talk to your tutor for more details. If your abstract and summary combined do not fit on one page when you view main.pdf, talk to Megan.
  • Write a non-technical summary in summary.tex. Summarize your project for a reader who is not a specialist in the field. Clearly explain the background, methods, and results. Provide context for the work. Can you suggest any applications of your result? (Recommended length: 50 - 150 words.)
  • Finish writing the main content of your paper in paper.tex. Delete any sections that you haven't used. Also, remember to thank your sponsors (the people to whom you wrote thank-you letters) in your acknowledgements section.
  • If you have appendices, those go in appa.tex. If you have no appendices, read the instructions in appa.tex. You will need to insert one percent sign (%) to disable the appendix.
  • Finish your bibliography in biblio.bib.


The official bibliography format is at

Buddy Reading

After you have submitted your papers on Saturday, you will split into small groups to review each other's papers and give feedback. Rather than silently reading papers, you are required to read your paper out loud to your buddy (or buddies). Your buddies should interrupt you if they hear anything that sounds awkward or poorly explained.


You can find several excellent sources of paper advice, including sample papers from previous years, on at More sample papers may be posted soon. Of course, you may always discuss your paper with your tutor, TAs, or nobodies. Your tutor can also refer you to other people in your field who can read drafts of your paper.

Technical Help

Check the RSI website at If the answer to your question isn't there, try Google, then zrsihelp.

Final Presentation

Final Presentation Guidelines


You will be presenting in front of RSI students from all fields, RSI staff members, and your mentor. Make the presentation at a level that you feel is appropriate. If you have any questions, ask your tutor.


Your presentation should be ten minutes maximum. If you go longer than ten minutes, you will be cut off. You will have a total for twelve minutes, meaning that questions and answers will last at least two minutes, possibly more if your presentation is short.

Any technical difficulties will be taken out of your presentation time, so that we do not run behind schedule. To minimize the chance of technical difficulties, we strongly recommend that you submit your slides early. The earlier your submit your slides, the likelier it is that any potential problems will be caught.


If your slides have any movies, sounds, or other special content, or if your slides are not in PDF form, please e-mail no later than noon on Tuesday, July 31st explaining what you will be using. Come prepared to give a chalk talk if something goes wrong.

If your slides are in PDF form with no movies, sounds, or special content, then we will fully support you and work with you to minimize the chance of technical glitches. Your slides will be due by 7pm on Wednesday, August 1st.

Submission Instructions

E-mail your slides as an attachment to Before e-mailing the slides, please test them yourself. For instance, if you're including a movie, please check to see if the movie is embedded in the presentation or if you also have to attach the movie file.

Additionally, note that only your last submission is final. This means that it is to your advantage to submit an unfinished version early, which we can check for compatibility issues. You may then re-submit your final version any time before the deadline.


You may submit your presentation in any format (e.g., PDF, ODP, PPT), but once again, please remember that the only format we fully support is a PDF with no movies, sounds, or special content. If you wish to export your slides to a PDF, try File->Export as PDF or File->Save As. Note that this conversion will remove all animations! If you require animations, then use Beamer, since Beamer can create some animations within a PDF file.

Technical Help

Check the RSI website at If the answer to your question isn't there, try Google, then zrsihelp. In particular, if you want to embed a movie, ask for help in advance.

Mistakes to Avoid

A TA will be introducing you, meaning that the audience will already know your name and your project title. You do not have to repeat these! Additionally, the TA will choose which questions you get to answer. Do not take charge by calling on people yourself.

For those using Beamer: First off, Beamer will by default show the date that you made the PDF. Use \date{August 2, 2012} (or August 3) to change this. Also, if you include acknowledgements in the \author and your template shows the author name at the bottom, you may notice that the name is cut off. To fix this, define a "shorter" name to be used at the bottom. For instance:

\author[Stevefish Goldfish]{ %the shorter name is in square brackets
Stevefish Goldfish\\[2em]
under the direction of\\
Dr.\ Malachite Green\\
Scripps Institute of Oceanography


The Second Milestone


The second milestone paper is due by midnight on Saturday, July 21. You should edit your introduction and add material relevant to the work that you've done. For example, describe your materials and methods, present some data the you've gathered, or set forth the conjectures and theorems that you've come up with.

This draft should be as long as it needs to be. For some of you, this will be 5 or 6 pages. Others will find that your work adds up to 10 or 12 pages. In general, longer is better here, as it's usually easier to edit and cut material than it is to produce new material. Turn the paper in to your tutor. If you cannot find him or her, slide it underneath the door of his/her room in Simmons.

Roughly, this paper will include

  • an updated introduction,
  • the tools that you are using (methods, programs, famous theorems)
  • results or partial results (data, theorems)

If possible, you can start to include some preliminary analysis, though this will most likely have to wait for your final paper.

For this milestone, we are also requiring that you keep a copy of your paper and slides in the ~/RSI/Paper directory. Remember, those of you using LaTeX should already have your paper and slides in this directory. Those of you using Word and PowerPoint should make sure to back-up your paper and slides onto Athena at least once this week.

The slides must be turned in by midnight on Friday, July 20. Presentations are optional, and will begin at 10:00am on Saturday, July 21 in the usual tutor rooms.

Note: These milestones are a minimum standard that we'd like you to meet. If you wish to exceed those standards you are perfectly welcome to do so. If you wish to turn in early drafts for your tutor to edit so that you may turn in a higher quality draft on Saturday, just track him or her down and hand in a copy of the draft.

Here is a document describing the bibliography format.

The First Milestone


By the end of the first week you will have read the background material about your research topic, problem, or field, and perhaps begun gathering data or setting up your experimental apparatus. For the first milestone, you are to present an introduction to the field you are working in and the work you are doing. The object is to give an introduction to your personal research with enough detail to satisfy a scientifically sophisticated nonexpert.

This paper will form the basis of the introduction section of your final paper.

The Paper: July 7

You should write a 2–4 page introduction to your work. Present your topic and a summary of the previous work in the field. Include a complete bibliography of all works you have read or are reading related to your work, even if you do not currently see how they might apply to what you will be doing.  You should pay special attention to work your mentor is doing in your field of study.

You should write your paper using the format you are using for your final paper submission and submit it as a hard copy to your tutor before the bedcheck of Saturday, July 7. There is no electronic submission process for this milestone.

If you are writing your paper in LaTeX: The paper template is contained in your Paper directory. You must keep your work within the Paper directory. The sections that you are not using should be kept as they are. You should:

  • Create a cover page in cover.tex.
  • Leave the abstract as it is in abstract.tex.
  • Leave the summary as it is in summary.tex.
  • Fill in the introduction Section of paper.tex.
  • Do not delete the later sections of paper.tex.
  • Fill in the Acknowledgements Section of paper.tex.
  • List your references and background reading in biblio.bib.
  • Leave the appendix as it is in appa.tex.

If your mentor is having you write your paper in Word AND you have permission from your tutor to do so:

  • Whatever your mentor wants, we need the .doc or .docx in the following format:
  • The main text must be in a double-spaced document called main.doc and saved in your RSI/Paper directory. main.doc must be organized into sections numbered as if they were defined using \section and \subsection in LaTeX, and you should not include any Figures, Tables, Graphs, Captions, Bibliographies, Title Page or anything other than normal text and in-line equations.
  • The abstract and summary must be done in LaTeX and saved in your RSI/Paper directory as abstract.tex and summary.tex, regardless of how your mentor additionally wants it. In other words, if your mentor wants your abstract in Word, you must do it both in Word and in LaTeX.
  • Your cover page must be in cover.tex and saved in your RSI/Paper directory. cover.tex must follow the specifications for LaTeX papers.
  • Your figures must be in a document called figures.doc and saved in your RSI/Paper directory. One figure to a page, and every figure must be clearly numbered. Captions are not to be included here. You must also have a raw copy (i.e. not in a Word file) of each figure in a folder RSI/Paper/figures named figureXX.EXT where XX is a number between 01 and 99 (must include a leading zero) and EXT is the proper extension for whatever file it is.
  • Your tables must be in a document called tables.doc and saved in your RSI/Paper directory. One table to a page, and every table must be clearly numbered. Captions are not to be included here. Pictures of tables are not acceptable.
  • Captions must be in a document called captions.doc and saved in your RSI/Paper directory. Label the captions as Figure 01, Figure 02, etc., and Table 01, Table 02, etc. depending on what they correspond to.
  • The bibliography must be in a document called biblio.doc and saved in your RSI/Paper directory. Format the bibliography according to your field, but you must do this consistently. Using EndNote is preferred. If you use EndNote, you must include your library file in your RSI/Paper directory.

Here is a document describing the bibliography format.

The Talk: July 7

Explain your work to your fellow Rickoids in a presentation lasting at least 3 minutes and no more than 5 minutes. Present relevant background in sufficient detail to allow your peers to understand what work you are doing without overwhelming them with details.

You must email a PDF file containing your slides to your tutor before bedcheck on Friday evening. Electronic slides submitted after midnight on Friday might not be available for your presentation.

You should not expect to have more than five slides for your talk to fill five minutes.

The talks will be given Saturday, July 7, beginning at 10:00AM, in the usual tutor rooms.

The Minipaper

The purpose of this assignment is to give you a chance to start developing your scientific writing skills and to become comfortable with your writing environment. You are not expected to produce a brilliant piece of scientific writing in 72 hours.

Here are two examples of minipapers with all of the necessary files. PDFs of the samples are here (Fry Lengths) and here (Monty Hall Problem) . You can see the directory containing all the files for the French Fry paper here. The directory containing all the files for the Monty Hall problem is here.


Do an experiment involving an art object found on campus. Create a hypothesis, perform an experiment, analyze the data. If you make a mess, clean it up. The experiment should not be dangerous or inappropriate. If you are unsure then check with your tutor.

Your written summary should include:

  • Background, including context and motivation
  • Methods, including controls and experimental apparatus
  • Main results
  • Discussion of the results
  • Acknowledgments thanking those who helped you.


You must use the minipaper template found in the RSI/MiniPaper subdirectory of your home directory.

  • The minipaper should include at least one captioned figure, one table, one equation and one citation of a reference.
  • You should perform some statistical analysis beyond the computation of mean values.
  • Modify the cover page and add your name, paper title, etc.
  • Write your paper in paper.tex. The meat of the paper should be at least two and no more than four pages long.
  • Write an abstract.
  • Put in your bibliography. Be sure to replace the template bibliography with your own.
  • Do not modify main.tex.

If you need a figure for your minipaper, we have two .png files available for your use:
and atomlogo. Copy them into your MiniPaper directory by downloading them from the links above.

If you are unable to work these required elements into the natural flow of your paper, create an additional `Required elements' section.

Electronic submission

Your paper must be written using LaTeX and make use of the scripts provided by RSI for this purpose.

  1. Write your paper in the MiniPaper directory
  2. Type minisubmit from the Terminal window.

The minitalk

You will give a 5 minute presentation about your experiment. Prepare one to two electronic slides for your talk in the file slides.tex. The TAs will guide you in the preparation of these slides. Be prepared for a short Q&A session after you talk.

Due times

The minipaper should be submitted by 5:30 PM on Thursday, June 28. A hard copy should be turned in to your tutor by bedcheck on Thursday.
You must submit your slides in pdf to your tutor by 10:00 PM on Friday, June 29. The minipresentations are scheduled for 10:00 AM on Saturday, June 30.