RSI 2013

The 2013 Research Science Institute

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The Second Milestone


The second milestone paper is due by 4:00 pm on Saturday, July 20th. 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, both a hard copy and by email. If you cannot find him or her, slide the hard copy 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 7:00 pm on Friday, July 19th. Presentations will begin at 10:00am on Saturday, July 20th 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 6

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 via email to both your tutor and to by 5:00 pm on Saturday, July 6th. In addition, you should turn in a hard copy to your tutor by 6:00 pm on July 6th.

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 6

Explain your work to your fellow Rickoids in a presentation lasting 4-5 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 by 11 pm on Friday, July 5th.

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

The talks will be given Saturday, July 6th, beginning at 11 am, in the same rooms as the minipaper presentations.

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 or study involving a plastic bag or plastic bags. Formulate a scientific question which you will seek to investigate and answer. Create a hypothesis, gather data, analyze the data. If you make a mess, clean it up. Experiments 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 two citations, each of a different 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, including at least two different references. 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 3-4 minute presentation about your experiment. Prepare approximately 4-5 electronic slides for your talk in the file slides.tex. Even if you don't use Beamer, you should submit the presentation as a pdf. 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 27. 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 11:00 PM on Friday, June 28. The minipresentations are scheduled for 11:00 AM on Saturday, June 29.