An ACM dissertation is an in-depth, original research study in the area of computer science or engineering that is submitted to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for its annual Doctoral Dissertation Competition. Like all reference reports, ACM dissertations are composed by doctoral students in the final phases of their graduate study, and are overseen by a committee comprised of advanced professors in the field in which the thesis is being written. Such documents are directed by and eventually approved by those committees before a doctoral student is allowed to take his or her Ph.D.
ACM dissertations must follow a standard dissertation format and presentation, typically consisting of five well-developed chapters outlining and explaining the researcher's study, results, and study implications. Most dissertations present an introduction that determines the research focus or problem, a review of existing literature about that subject, a methodology chapter outlining the procedure of the study, a results chapter describing the outcomes of the study, and a discussion chapter describing the implications of the research and the study's possible application in its particular field.
An ACM dissertation differs from a typical dissertation composed in the field of computer science or engineering only in that it is submitted to the Association for Computing Machinery for consideration for the ACM's annual Doctoral Dissertation Competition. Competition winners receive cash prizes and the distinction of the ACM Award, which is counted among the most prestigious honors in the computer science and engineering fields. It is important to note that doctoral students may not submit their own dissertations for consideration in the competition; all nominations must be made by a student's institution, and each institution is only allowed one nominee per year.
ACM dissertations are expected to be of the highest caliber research and innovation. Award-winning dissertations are considered to have made exceptional and original strides in the areas of computer science or engineering, and offer new and original research in their area of focus. In addition to its technical content, an ACM report should be grammatically and stylistically sophisticated, and follow exactly the style and citation guidelines determined by the student's field and department. All credit owed to previous researchers whose work may have been the foundations of the report must be properly cited. The dissertation must present a hypothesis or set of hypotheses in the first chapter and clearly outline the research study that will fully and fairly test that hypothesis. All details of the study's procedure, data gathering, and data analysis must be clearly outlined in such a way as to be easily reproducible by another researcher. Finally, all results must be reported exactly and accurately, and interpreted without bias.
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