Independent Work & Theses
Do This Now
- Attend spring semester welcome meeting on Feb. 6, 2015 12:30 - 1:30
- Make note of the important dates for this semester.
- Enroll in Piazza site here.
- Read Brian Kernighan's unsolicited advice on IW.
- Read the rest of this website.
- Find an advisor and project.
- Campus Resources for Thesis / Independent Work
- IW/Thesis Signup Form
- Checkpoint Form
- February Paper Form (for all 2-semester work)
- Second Reader Form (for all 2-semester work)
The independent work coordinators (IWCs) are Professors Arvind Narayanan and Adam Finkelstein. The IW coordinator(s) are responsible for overseeing the mechanics of the IW, providing high-level feedback on proposals, posters, etc. The IW coordinators also determine the final grade with input from your advisor and other members of the faculty. Only the IWCs can approve any changes to deadlines, etc., so please do not ask anyone else to grant extensions or allow you to skip required components of the IW. Your research advisor is the person with whom you will most closely work over the course of your research. It is up to you to find your own advisor and mutually agree on a research topic. It is your job to meet all the deadlines for the course -- your research advisor may not even be aware of them. Do not ask your research advisor to grant extensions for the course -- even if they agree, it will not be honored by the IWC.
To contact the IWC and UGC, please use the address iwcoord (@lists.cs.princeton.edu).
To continue reading this guide, use the navigation on the right side of the page.
I have a great independent work idea that will make me rich and famous. Does the university own it?
According to the University's rules, you own the copyright in the software you write (and your research papers and works), except in circumstances that rarely apply to undergraduates, such as support by federal research grants. Having said that, it is uncommon for "independent work" to be completely independent -- students are advised by a faculty advisor and that advice often helps shape the products developed. Moreover, the faculty advisor is an employee of Princeton and has different IP obligations to the university than the student. I think the bottom line is that as far as we know, the university has never claimed ownership of any independent work done by undergrads. Having said that, this page is an informal guide. It is not a legal document, is not written by someone who is a lawyer or knows copyright or patent law, and cannot be taken as official university policy. It should certainly not be taken as sound legal advice.
Can I continue my summer project at Yagoosoft Corp as independent work?
We strongly discourage undergraduates from undertaking independent work that is subject to confidentiality agreements with third parties or other similar restrictions, because it may violate University policy and it might limit the scope or nature of your future research at Princeton and elsewhere. Before entering into any such agreement, you must get an opinion about the intellectual property issues from the General Counsel's office and the Office of Technology Licensing.
I am an AB COS major. Can I use QCB 301 to satisfy the fall semester of my COS JIW?
The project component of QCB 301 can count as one semester of junior independent work for ABs provided that the QCB project has a substantial computational component. In addition to the requirements of QCB 301, you must officially inform the COS independent work coordinator that you are using QCB 301 as part of your COS independent work and you must fill out all the required IW forms, do the COS checkpoints, proposal presentations, and poster presentations required for normal independent work. You must also submit your final QCB write-up as part of your JIW and highlight the parts of the QCB write-up that clearly describe the computational content of your project.