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Pay special attention to write personal notes like "this is a good paper", "I liked it because..." This will also be valuable because it will form your bibliography when you get to writing the thesis. EVL has accounts on the ACM and IEEE digital libraries. After your first term here you should have a rough idea what you are interested in.Furthermore this summary is important because it will make up the "Background Research" part of your thesis as well as any papers you'd like to publish. He/She should be able to point you towards other resources. If you find an interesting paper then look at the author's web site and see what links are there. During the second term you should do the area review, so that at the end of your first year here you are ready for #3 and #4 below. Choosing the Thesis Area: Choose one that hopefully interests you and ideally one that you are also funded to do. Once you've chosen an area you need to think carefully about what its contribution is.
If you are choosing something that you are truly passionate about then fantastic! If you are stopping with a MS degree this will be your last chance to do anything that you truly enjoy.
After that when you get out in the "real" world you will be assigned projects and deadlines that you may not care about.
In both cases you must make a contribution to the existing body of knowledge / experience.
For the project you take more courses, in the thesis you do more research and have a more formal presentation at the end. A thesis uses a project as a proof of concept, but also describes what is conceptually novel and how this work fits into the context of existing work in the field.
Sometimes what you are looking for may lead you to find something that you had not intended but may be more interesting. This is your chance to discover what the rest of the world is doing.
This is an important step because it gives you a broad view of your discipline.
In general a thesis is a new contribution to the field you are studying.
You cannot simply duplicate work that has already been done. Sometimes it is useful to draw a table with authors on one axis and what they do in the other axis.
As a Research Assistant at EVL, we expect you to do a thesis. Decide if you want to do a thesis to get through your Masters as quickly as possible or to do a thesis in an area that you are truly passionate about.
If you are choosing something that you just want to get through as quickly as possible, ask your advisor for a well defined thesis with specific requirements.