Evolutionary Computation: Research Project Proposal to Analyze and Replicate the Experimental Results of a Published Research Article

Original activity authored by Sherri Goings, Carleton College.
This material was developed as part of the Carleton Teaching Activity Collection and is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


For this research proposal, students will choose a currently published research paper in the field of Evolutionary Computation. They will write a proposal as if they were the original authors, where they will clearly explain the question the paper is meant to address, the thesis or theses proposed, and the experiments planned to test these theses. The students will also include a justification of these experiments as being sufficient to test the proposed theories, and/or further experiments that should be done to fully address the question asked in the published paper.

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Learning Goals

This assignment addresses multiple concepts. First students must learn and understand the content of the paper they choose sufficiently enough to be able to relate the question the paper is asking and analyze the effectiveness of the experiments proposed in the paper to address that question. Second students will learn to assess research papers as opposed to assuming anything published must be infallible. Finally students will learn to write a clear and concise research proposal.

Context for Use

This assignment is designed for an upper-level elective based on a specific field of research. It will be the first step in a 6-week project where after writing the proposal the students will actually perform the proposed experiments and see if they replicate the results reported in the original paper. The first 4 weeks of the course will be covering the basics of the field of research itself and will include reading and discussing current research papers to introduce students to the idea of critiquing published papers.

Description and Teaching Materials

Materials given to the students will be
1. A list of many research papers to choose from (though it will be open to them to choose another they find on their own).
2. Examples of good and bad research proposals to help them understand what it should consist of.

Teaching Notes and Tips


The assessment will be based on a few key points.
1. General writing assessment, is the paper clear and concise, easy to follow, well-edited for grammer, etc...
2. Did the students identify and clearly state the question the original published paper is meant to address
3. Did the students identify and clearly state the thesis/theses proposed by the original paper
4. Did the students identify and clearly state the experiments proposed by the original paper to answer the question
5. Did the students analyze and critique the proposed experiments as being sufficient to answer the stated question.

References and Resources