For people willing to graduate on HCI/CSCW

This page provides some useful hints for students. All students willing to graduate with a thesis on HCI/CSCW are required to read it. If you are considering working with us please e-mail Andrea Conci who is collecting expressions of interest. The e-mail should contain:

  1. a short (half of a page) expression of interest (why do you want to work with us);
  2. an official copy of your marks (that you can find on esse3);
  3. dates about your expected graduation.

Below you can find guidelines and requirements on internship and thesis that you MUST read.


At the start of the internship you need to fill the documentation. All the info can be found HERE. Be sure to do this task perfectly on time.
For example, for the external internship you need to fill two documents at a distance of ten days. For the second document the signature of the advisor (i.e., professor De Angeli) is required. Obviously professor De Angeli is not available at any time. Therefore this should not be planned at the last minute. Tutoring Hours can be the right moment to talk with the professor about it, but specify this intention on the spreadsheet (in the “name” column write something like John Smith [internship signature]).

THESIS (must do)

  • we organise monthly presentation of ongoing projects to allow people to contribute to existing projects. Next meeting will be {to be defined}. Make sure you are registered to the group meeting writing an e-mail to Andrea.
  • usually we do not accept thesis's topic outside our existing projects. However if you have a personal proposal, provide (in your e-mail to Andrea) a 2-pages description about it and we will evaluate it.
  • at the start of the thesis you will have a set of meeting with your advisor and co-advisor. After 2-3 meetings (approximately 3 weeks) you will have to submit a 2-pages document containing information on: the topic of your thesis (what you will do), a rough plan of action (how you will do it) and the timeline of the future activities (when you will do it).
  • as soon as you write something you should send it to professor De Angeli and your co-advisor. It can take one or two weeks to get feedbacks on your work: first you send something and first you receive feedbacks. We expect you'll send us a first draft of your thesis at least one month before the official submission (deadlines and info can be found HERE (bachelor) and HERE (master)).

Tutoring Hours

Tutoring hours have been suspended.
This year (2014-2015), for those students who would like to talk in person, tutoring hours have been set every Tuesday from 10 to 12:30. You can register through the spreadsheet (link below) simply adding your name (first column) in the time slot you prefer.

Tutoring Calendar
Check the spreadsheet at least a couple of days before to be sure that the tutoring has not been canceled.
For any request concerning thesis and/or internship please refer to Andrea Conci.

How to write a MSc dissertation: a survival kit

In spring terms 2013 Dr. Noel gave a course on how to write a thesis research papers. All students are strongly invited to check them

Seminar slides:


In this paper we are trying to point out some guidelines that might be useful when writing a thesis. While there are different kinds of thesis (for a BA, MA or a PhD course), most rules apply to each of them. As a general rule, never overlook any of the steps listed below. Writing a thesis is a step-by-step process, which can only be successful if all passages have been carefully taken into consideration.

Getting started

First all, you should ask yourself:

  • What you want to write about

Bringing your subject into focus will prevent you from digressing too much. While some occasional digressions can be acceptable and can actually provide a deeper insight into your subject, you should avoid delving too much into issues that are not directly connected to the main topic.

  • Your target (what kind of reader will read your essay)

Defining the kind of reader who is supposed to read your thesis will help you to adopt the right style and to state what you need to explain and what, on the contrary, your reader can be expected to know already.


Brainstorming means coming up with ideas and observations that might be useful for your thesis. At this stage, you should not write complete and articulated sentences, but simply point out a few key words or short phrases that you will retrieve later on in the process.

Skimming vs. reading

Another aspect should be taken into consideration before starting to write your thesis: you might not like the idea, but papers are more skimmed than read. Skimming involves reading the abstract, and looking at figures and figure captions. Therefore, make sure that your paper can be sufficiently understood by skimming: in other words, the conclusions, as written in your abstract, should be understood by study of the figures and captions.



A good abstract should explain in a few lines why the paper is important. It then goes on to give a summary of your major results. The final sentences explain the major implications of your work. A good abstract is concise and readable. Length might be variable, but in general it is advisable to limit yourself to 1-2 paragraphs (approximately 400 words). Answers to these questions should be found in the abstract:

  • What did you do?
  • Why did you do it? What question were you trying to answer?
  • How did you do it? State methods.
  • What did you learn? State major results.
  • Why does it matter? Point out at least one significant implication.

Table of Contents

The table of contents should provide a sort of map of your thesis, showing how your work has been structured and which aspects have been dealt with in relation to the main topic. In the table of contents all headings and subheadings with page numbers should be listed.


First of all, a good introduction implies an excellent knowledge of the contents of your thesis. Therefore, it might be useful to write the introduction after you have completed the rest of the thesis, rather than before. Another aspect you cannot overlook is that an introduction is supposed to motivate the reader to read the rest of your thesis. For this purpose, you might want to include a “hook”, namely an interesting and captivating quotation, expression or sentence that will induce the reader to get on.

A good introduction should provide the following information.

  • Goals: explain why you decided to undertake the study.
  • Introduction to the context and background information to research area, so that the reader realises the significance of the question you are trying to address.
  • Acknowledgement of the previous work you based on when writing your thesis. In this connection, make clear where sources you referred to end and where your own contributions starts.
  • Scope of the work: explain what will and will not be covered. The introduction is definitely not the right place to summarise all your knowledge on the subject or to digress from the main topic.
  • A verbal summary of the table of contents, to guide the reader to what lies ahead


This section should include

  • information to allow the reader to assess the believability of your results
  • information needed by another researcher to replicate your experiment
  • description of your materials, procedure, theory
  • calculations, technique, procedure, equipment
  • limitations, assumptions, and range of validity.


Results are actual statements of observations, including statistics, tables and graphs. While working on this section, make sure to:

  • indicate information on range of variation;
  • mention negative results as well as positive;
  • separate results from interpretation of results, which belongs to the discussion section.

The line between observations and interpretation of results must be crystal-clear. For this purpose, you can either physically separate these two elements, including them in two different sections, or using specific expressions, such as “We infer that…”, “This suggests that…” etc.


This section should be introduced by a few sentences that summarise the most important results. The rest of this section should answer the following questions:

  • What are the major patterns in the observations?
  • What are the relationships, trends and generalisations among the results?
  • What are the exceptions to these patterns or generalisations?
  • What are the likely mechanisms underlying these patterns?
  • Is there agreement or disagreement with previous work?
  • What is the relationship of the present results to the original question?
  • What are the things we now know or understand that we did not know or understand before the present work?
  • What is the significance of the present results: why should the reader care?

How to deal with multiple hypotheses

There are usually several possible explanations for results. All these explanations should be considered. Should you prefer one particular explanation, you can point it out, explaining why you regard it as the most relevant. In this case, though, you should give even treatment to the remaining possibilities, including the evidence or line of reasoning supporting each interpretation and trying to indicate ways in which future work may lead to their discrimination.


These sections should include the strongest and most important statements that you can make from your observations.

  • Start this section with a short reference to the original question posed.
  • Describe the conclusions that you reached from carrying out this research.
  • Summarise new observations, new interpretations, and new insights that have resulted from the present work. Make sure to include the broader implications of your results.
  • When appropriate, point out directions for future investigations on this or related topics.

Do not repeat word for word the abstract, introduction or discussion.


Mention your advisor(s) or anyone who helped you technically, intellectually, financially, expressing your gratitude for their support.


Every time you mention data, observations, ideas and concepts retrieved form the works of other authors, make sure to signal it in a reference section, including the author’s name and surname, the title of the work(s) you are referring to, the place of edition, publisher, year of publication, page number(s).

Use consistently a standard format of references (e.g., ACM – Association of Computational Machinery or Harvard). A note of warning

You must explicitly state the sources you have used in producing your thesis (any book paper, report, web page used to learn ideas, concepts, etc.). Any piece of text or graphic you copy directly from a source must be identified by quotation marks “xxx” and a reference to the source (Author name, year, page number). References to the source of graphics are normally added in the caption. Failure of complying with these rules will be regarded as plagiarism (a serious academic offence). The web is not a scientific authority, and the usage of definitions and concepts found on web-sites should be discouraged in favour of journals and conference publications. Google scholar is an excellent index of scientific publication. It lists papers based on the number of citations and provides a link to the publication citing each paper.


The appendix generally includes:

  • data and references that are not easily available
  • tables
  • calculations
  • references that you did consult, but did not cite in the text

Editing your Thesis

Editing is a part of your work that cannot be overlooked. Accurately revising your text is extremely important, because even the best contents might be belittled by poor grammar, syntax and style.

Copy Editing

Proof read your thesis, checking out for grammatical mistakes (punctuation, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement) or spelling mistakes. In this connection, spellcheckers can be useful, but cannot substitute the final check by eye, since they are not able to detect some kinds of mistakes, such as homonyms.

Content Editing

Content editing consists in making sure that your text is consistent In this connection, your statements should be linked to each other by suitable conjunctions, prepositions and expressions (linking words), that make the text more readable and consistent.

Style: what you should not do In general, there are a few things you should definitely avoid.

  • Useless repetitions: once you have stated something, do not state it once again later on in the thesis, unless it is really necessary for the purposes of your thesis.
  • Ambiguity: use short, simple sentences rather than long, nested clauses.
  • Idioms: since you want your thesis to be as readable as possible, favour words or expressions that belong to Standard English and can be easily found in any dictionary.

(to be continued…)

Formatting suggestions

You can find a good description of what conceptual design is at

Here you can find how to lay out your references.

Useful resources

Bachelor theses

Master's theses