School of Mathematical Sciences

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Reports and documents

Writing project reports and other mathematical documents in general

General project guidance

This is general background to the specific guidance provided for each module with a large written component. It is particularly relevant to the following modules:

Your project must involve the study of some mathematical topic and must be your own work in the sense that your report gives an original account of the material, but it need not contain new mathematical results. All projects also involve a brief presentation.

The purpose of the project is largely to develop your ability to work independently. Your supervisor will provide a reading list and give general advice on the work for the project and the writing of the report. But your supervisor cannot be expected to provide a list of all the individual results that should go into your report, although your supervisor will probably mention a few major items. You are strongly advised to pass a first draft to your supervisor, who will then comment on the format and the English style and point out any major mathematical errors. But you must take responsibility for the suitability of particular sections of your report.

Your report should be on A4 size paper and prepared using a computer. It should be in a simple binding, e.g. a ring or springback binder. Each report should include

  • a brief summary,
  • an introduction,
  • the report itself, and
  • a bibliography.

You should hand in two copies and keep a third copy for yourself. The usual procedure is to hand your report in to the Maths Office (room 101 of the Mathematical Sciences Building): staff there will note the date and time of submission and give you a receipt.

Referencing and plagiarism

This is discussed briefly in the School of Mathematical Sciences Undergraduate Handbook 2009–10 (part 3 – page 20: What is plagiarism?) and in the current Queen Mary Student Guide 2008–09 (page 21: Plagiarism and misconduct in coursework).

Correct referencing of other work is essential in all academic documents. When you mention or cite other work you put a marker in your text, which relates to a list of references somewhere else in your document that gives a full bibliographic reference to each work you have cited. In mathematical documents the list of references is normally put at the end. This is sometimes called a bibliography, although a bibliography is more general and can include references to works that you have not explicitly cited in your text.

The Wikipedia article on Citation provides a good summary of how to reference. It presents two citation systems: parenthetical and note. You can use either, but choose one or the other and do not mix them. When using the note system in mathematical documents, the note number is often put in square brackets rather than displayed as a superscript.

Figures and diagrams

You may produce figures and diagrams any way you want, including drawing them by hand, in which case one easy way to incorporate them into a document produced by computer is to scan them. You should not spend too much time trying to produce publication-quality figures. However, we will award similar marks for diagrams of similar quality regardless of how they are produced, and it is usually much easier to produce good quality diagrams using appropriate software.

Project mark schemes

The contribution of the presentation is described in the module details provided in the School of Mathematical Sciences Undergraduate Handbook 2009–10 (part 7) and in the individual module web pages.

Dr Francis Wright
Director of Undergraduate Studies
November 2009