In this page, I describe all the information you need to know about doing your MSc thesis topic with me.

Topics

I exclusively supervise MSc thesis on software engineering topics. See my research page.

Short summary:

  • Topics: software maintenance (evolution, refactoring, comprehension), technical debt, software testing.
  • Methods: empirical research (qualitative research and theory building, mining software repositories, biometric sensors such as eye tracking and EEG), machine learning for software engineering (machine learning, deep learning, NLP models).

How to approach me?

If you are interested in doing your research in one of the topics, send me an e-mail showing your interest (more recently, you should approach me using our project forum). We will schedule a 30 minutes meeting.

I need you to come prepared to this meeting:

  • What’s your formal thesis start date?
  • What’s your expected graduation date?
  • Why are you interested in this topic?
  • What software engineering-related MSc courses did you take? What were your grades?
  • Do you have a side job? (Note that your side job can take only a day a week. I allow exceptions only in specific cases.)
  • What’s your ambition? Are you going for a 9+ thesis or a 7ish thesis?

Both of us will take some time and reflect about this meeting, and understand if we want to proceed.

Thesis proposal

Once we agree on working together, your first step will be to write a one or two pages proposal:

  • What is the project about? Why is it interesting?
  • What are the two or three related papers? How is your research different than existing ones?
  • How do you plan to approach it?
  • What do you expect as results?
  • What are the project milestones?

Weekly meetings

I expect you to discuss your progress with me in a weekly manner. You are responsible for scheduling meetings with me. My agenda changes every quarter, and I’ll let you know the days I’m available.

To make it productive, I suggest the following agenda:

  • You give me a 10-minutes presentation on your current progress, challenges you are facing, and what are your next steps. Slides are appreciated.
  • We discuss for 20 minutes. You take notes of these points.

Some students enjoy posting those meeting summaries in a management tool, such as Basecamp. I also appreciate it.

Midterm, green light, and defense

Starting 2021, we have three formal feedback moments:

  • The midterm evaluation happens around week 10. You should give me a short presentation about your current progress, challenges, and whether it seems likely that we will have a successful research.

  • The green light happens around week 25. In here, we decide whether your research is successful and that you have enough to defend your thesis. In case of a positive reaction, you should fill up the final form.

  • Three months before the possible defense date, we should work on organizing a committee. I am the one who usually invites the external member.

Note that you are responsible for scheduling the midterm and the green light with me, as well as remembering me when it is time to find a committee. Try to put those dates in my agenda soon!

In case you fail the midterm or green light, you are entitled to a resit. Please, read our regulations to understand how this works and how it impacts your progress.

Getting a good grade

Empirically, what I observe is:

  • A thesis receives a 9 whenever it contains two strong research chapters, and we believe it can be published in a top venue without any extra work.
  • A thesis receives a 8 whenever it contains one strong research chapter, it is well-written, and we believe it requires little work before it can be published in a top venue.
  • A thesis receives a 7 whenever it contains a fair research chapter, it is somewhat well-written, and we believe it requires little work before being published in a second-tier conference.
  • A thesis receives less than that when it fails to accomplish any of the points above.

Other tips

  • The most important rule for a successful journey: make yourself fully responsible for your own progress, research, and organization.
  • Remember that you should take care of all the required documents, e.g., IEP, TEP, committee forms, etc, in a timely manner. Delays can be caused if you don’t start this process soon enough.
  • I expect you to join our group’s activities. We offer weekly presentations for the entire SERG, regular students’ presentations, reading clubs, etc. You do not need to join them all, but definitely some of them.

A note on self care

The MSc journey can be quite intense for some. Please take good care of yourself throughout this process.

Make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle and that the MSc thesis does not become the main thing in your life. Exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and taking some time to relax and have fun.

Remember that you are not alone. This might be even more important during corona times. Feel free to message me whenever you need someone to talk to.