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Melanie-Claire's Advices and Rules for REUs


The CNF / PARADIM REU Nano Convocation will be held on Thursday, August 11th. The schedule is here. Your presentations will be live web-streamed and video-taped for archiving online. The web-stream URL will be up on http://www.cnf.cornell.edu/cnf5_reuprogram.html -- so share that with your parents and friends in case they want to tune in!

(Be sure to tell anyone you send this URL to, that the presentations almost always shift a little, a few minutes either way. So if someone wants to see your presentation, they should start watching at least 15 minutes before your talk's start time, just in case.)

I especially want to call out four items on the convocation!

You have FIFTEEN minutes on the schedule, NOT fifteen minutes to present! That fifteen minutes MUST include; one full minute for getting set up, attaching the microphone to yourself, finding and opening your PowerPoint slides, then presenting, and at the end, two or three minutes for participant questions and your answers. So as you can see, if you plan to TALK for the whole fifteen minutes, our schedule will be thrown out of whack from the get-go! Instead, you should be thinking in terms of presenting a 12-minute presentation, which equals about 24 PPT slides total (not including your title and acknowledgement slides, since those are shown relatively briefly). If you have 43 slides, you are never going to be done in time and your presentation will have to be cut off!

The best way to deal with this short amount of time to present is to seriously think about your introductory slides and slides regarding your initial processes. As I've said before, I've witnessed interns who spent ten minutes explaining the history of nanotechnology and why their research is going to change the world, two minutes on their intended processes, and then about 30 seconds on what they actually made and whether or not it worked.

So my advice to you is -- talk about your RESULTS, what you actually accomplished, and not so much about how you got there. (How you got there is what your final report is for. A presentation is about what worked -- or didn't, as the case may be....) (And a word on that -- what did NOT work is often more useful to the overall research picture than what did work! Your efforts are never wasted in research.)

Make sure you practice your presentation out loud at least five times before you come to the convocation. That way you know exactly how long it really does take to present your slides, you've gotten used to saying all the technical words out loud, and you'll be more confident when you are on stage. Win Win Win.

Please dress your best for the convocation! The videos we are taping and the photographs we'll also take will represent you and the program for all time immemorial. Especially with regard to clip on microphones, be sure to wear a top to which you can easily clip the mike dead-center on your upper chest. Ties and button-up shirts/dresses are great for this, but avoid clipping the mike to your collar, shirt pocket, or flimsy cloth. The microphone needs to be centered on your body and about four inches from your head, so that no matter which way you look as you talk to the audience, the mike will still catch your voice, and you won't hit it when you glance around. Remove any lanyards, avoid bulky scarves or necklaces, and if you have long hair, tie it back -- all of these will knock against or muffle the mike when you move. Also, the clip-on microphone is attached to a small box transmitter, which you will need to drop into a pocket or clip to a pocket, waistband or belt. So make sure you have a pocket or belt! Finally, even though you are wearing a microphone -- speak up! Project your voice to the audience, specifically to the very last person in the very last row. A quiet voice is still a quiet voice even with a microphone. Please speak up.

Your presentation and poster MUST be APPROVED by your principal investigator for distribution and web archiving. By the way, you are encouraged to take your poster home with you after the Poster Session and we'll have extra tubes on hand for safe transportation. Keep in mind, your school may well have a spot to put it up or they may host an event where you can showcase your work. Including! If you can, please come back and present your poster at our annual meeting on Thursday, September 15th -- http://www.cnf.cornell.edu/cnf_2016am.html -- register online by September 6th. Registration is free for CNF User poster presenters!

Regarding your presentation, you've heard this before, but face the audience as you speak, not the screen. Use the cursor pointer on the laptop, instead of a laser pointer. People want to see your face, not your back! Don't wander as you talk. Stand in front of the laptop and stay there. You are being web-cast and video-taped! Those watching the presentation online don't want to be staring at an empty screen where a person should be. Not to mention those watching the video sometime in the future will not be at all impressed by an empty screen or the back of your head. When you get to your Q&A section -- STOP!! Repeat the question first (summarize if necessary) for the web-watching / video-watching folks -- then answer the question. An answer to an unheard question is very confusing, especially for those watching online / the video. If you are very skilled, you can weave the question into your answer, but in any case REPEAT THE QUESTION FIRST!

Keep in mind -- you have just fifteen minutes on the schedule, but it is forever on the web. Prospective graduate schools, prospective employers, prospective PIs -- they will all find your presentation online if and when they look, and how you represent yourself and your work may inform their decision regarding your future! Plan now to represent yourself very well!!


Final reports are due by the end of the day, Friday, August 12th. Please email your report materials to both your CNF REU PI and Melanie-Claire* I must have proof that the final report I receive is the same final report your PI receives. Even though you have already sent it to your PI, send it to them again when you send it to me. Thank you! (* PARADIM REU send to your PI, Karen Jordan, and Julie Nucci.)

NOTE #1: As you read over the instructions at http://www.cnf.cornell.edu/cnf_rainstructions.html and the following advices, keep in mind -- the American Chemical Society requires authors to read a 448-page document before even submitting an article! So our instructions and requirements are pretty tame in comparison.
NOTE #2: The CNF REU reports will be included in the 2015-2016 CNF Research Accomplishments and in no way is the CNF Research Accomplishments considered a refereed or peer-reviewed journal, so reports are NOT considered "pre-published" results. If you and your PI intend to submit an article to a REAL journal, our research accomplishments and web site will not prohibit you from doing so! (And… if you do submit your research to a journal, please let us know if it is accepted.)

NOTE #3: AFM images, SEM images, etc., must be taken at the highest resolution possible. You can always reduce an image's size, but once created, pixels cannot be added! Also, graphs must be created with large bold lines that have identifiers and text must be bold.

By the way, your principal investigator may request a more in-depth report, something MUCH longer than the report we are requesting, or you yourself may want to write a more detailed report. These options are fine, but are not to be confused with this request for an REU report!



!!! THERE IS A 1000-WORD MAXIMUM !!! (The word count does NOT include the summary report info, but DOES include everything else -- abstract, references, captions.) Obviously, if your report ends up to be 1005 words, just send it. Don't try to figure out which five words to cut. There is a CNF REU report template online (at the bottom of the page, http://www.cnf.cornell.edu/cnf_rainstructions.html), but typical report sections include: Abstract:, Introduction:, Experimental Procedure:, Results and Conclusions:, Future Work:, CNF Tools Used:. Acknowledgments:, References: (No footnotes please, only references!!)

!!! THERE IS A FOUR-GRAPHICS MAXIMUM !!! (The term "graphic" includes photos, graphs, tables, and equations/formulas.)

Please stick to the 1000-word, FOUR graphic maximums. If you are way over and can't figure out what to cut, ask your mentor for assistance -- combining the abstract and introduction can save you hundreds of words, for instance.

I will mail the 2015-2016 CNF Research Accomplishments to the CNF REU at your home street address in late September. Please be sure to include your complete home address when you submit your report.

IMPORTANT NOTES ON YOUR TEXT CHOICES -- A selection of proper writing styles:

A. NO abbreviations the first time! Spell out scanning electron microscopy (SEM), gallium nitride (GaN), deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), etc., the first time you use them. Then use the acronyms for the rest of the report. This is especially important when you are writing about a little-known process. I mean, even I rarely spell out nanometer, since "nm" is everywhere! But not everyone is going to know what GRIN stands for or NSSP. So spell out gradient refractive index (GRIN) or nanostructured semipolar (NSSP) and then your audience stays with you.

B. All research is a team effort, so it is inappropriate to say "I" "my" in your report -- except perhaps in your acknowledgments. (I will change "I" "my" to "we" "our")

C. Since you are reporting on research that has been completed, the report must be in the past tense -- was and were -- except if you have a "Future Work" section, of course.

D. For your written report, "@" is not a word -- "at" is a word! "&" is not a word -- "and" is a word! No IM or twitter abbreviations either! LOL!!

E. "Utilize" is grossly over-utilized and it is really alright to use "use" or break out of the pack and use "employ"!! "We employed photolithography methods to..."

F. "A" and "the" and commas are your friends, and do not need to be left out. If an "a" or "the" puts you over the 1000 word limit, throw caution to the wind and include the "the."

G. In proper English writing, we spell out numbers ten and under, except in measurements. So -- you performed a process for six hours on six wafers to grow 6 microns of oxide (made up process!). Few researchers do this properly, but they should serve as a bad example, not a good one! So spell out the five in -- We repeated our process five times. Also, when referencing .x of something (like .9 microns), always put a zero first -- 0.9 microns.

H. Reference numbers should be bracketed -- [1] -- as opposed to superscripted1. I'm sure that if you think about it, you can imagine the possibilities for confusion in a research paper where many items already include superscripted numbers. To clearly differentiate between superscripts and references, put reference numbers in brackets -- [1].

I. References MUST include the first author (at least), publication title, journal name, volume #, issue #, page #s, and publication year. If you need to lower your overall word count, you can delete all the authors but the first and put "et al." instead, and you can delete the publication title, but leave all the rest of the reference information!


[1] Refrain from formatting! DO NOT USE COLUMNS! Avoid bold, styles, hypertext, indenting, tabs, etc. Place an empty paragraph between paragraphs of text, for instance, instead of indenting. KEEP IT SIMPLE.

[2] Do not refer to the placement of a figure in your paper or caption, i.e. "In Figure 3 below, we see..." Just say, "In Figure 3, we see..." The actual page layout I use may not allow figures to be placed where you would like them to be, however I will try to put them as close to the text where they are mentioned. So mention the figure, just not where to find it.

[3] Include captions at the end of your report as TEXT in the Word document (which you will then send to me as a PDF) -- do not make captions part of the photo files. Also, captions should be short, ~ 10-20 words each. Critical information on the figure better be in the report, and therefore need not be repeated in the caption.

[4] For your "Acknowledgements:" section, researchers typically thank their principal investigator, mentor, research group members, and site coordinators / staff for their assistance, and both the Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility Research Experience for Undergraduates (CNF REU) Program and the National Science Foundation for funding (please say something like, "This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. NNCI-1542081." Or just, "National Science Foundation, Grant No. NNCI-1542081."). Of course, you can thank whomever you want, but I will go thru all reports and make sure that the CNF REU Program is thanked and the grant number is listed!

[5] In general, references should read: Author Last Name, First Initial; "Title"; Journal, Volume, Pages (Year). As noted in "I" above, if you need to cut down on your word count, delete the title. Also, the first reference you refer to MUST be [1], and the second reference you refer to MUST be [2]. This seems obvious, but I often get papers where the very first time there is a reference, it is [2], which will make the reader think they've missed a reference somewhere. So put the reference numbers in order with [1] first. (Similarly, graphics should start with Figure 1 and travel numerically thru to Figure 4!)


YOUR GRAPHICS and IMAGES MUST BE YOUR OWN ORIGINAL WORK! I do not have the time to search out permission for copyrighted works!

Remember from the REU Intern Expectations: It is CRITICAL that you learn how to save SEM and AFM images at the HIGHEST DPI / Contrast possible! (Assuming you are taking SEM and AFM images as part of your research.) Starting NOW, highest resolution possible!

[1] It is great practice to figure out NOW how to deal with jpeg files, gathering and storing the original SEMs, AFMs, etc., you'll take over the summer. You may need to learn how to use Photoshop, for resolution and contrast corrections. And just about every program out there has a "Save As" option that includes jpeg. As you continue in research, learning to work with AFMs, SEMs and Photoshop will stand you in good stead forever!

[2] Again, email your graphics as JPEGs at the highest resolution possible. (As noted on the RA instructions, do NOT send zip files.)

[3] Please keep in mind that equations and formulas count as graphics! (Obviously, equations and formulas will NOT be original work….)

[4] Again -- four graphics maximum. DO NOT put twelve photos in a figure and call that one graphic. By the time such an item is resized for the book, it is almost completely incomprehensible. ONE graphic per figure! (Process outlines and small inserts may work in one graphic, but print them out at three inches wide and see if you can read them without a magnifying glass!)

[5] All graphs and photos will be printed in greyscale. If color is critical to the understanding of your diagram, I'm sorry -- but it won't be understood! Rework graphs to include markers on the lines. If you refer to colors in your graph description / caption, refer to the marker instead.

Melanie-Claire Mallison
CNF REU Program Coordinator


PS: Once the 2015-2016 CNF Research Accomplishments is complete, here is how you cite the publication for graduate school applications and etc:

YourLastName, YourFirstName. "Your report title as published"; 2015-2016 CNF Research Accomplishments, your page #s, September 2016. http://www.cnf.cornell.edu/cnf_2016ra.html.

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