Paper Outline for 158.799 Information Technology Research Project


Paper Number and Title: 158.799: Information Technology Research Project


Credits Value: 30                                                                     Semester: S1 to S2 (S1/2)
Note that this course must be done over two semesters, beginning in semester 1. This page is at 


Campus: Albany                                                                       Mode: Internal

Paper Coordinator: Dr. Brian Whitworth is the coordinator for 158.799: Quad Building A, room 2.03, with Office Hours Friday 2pm onwards, or by appointment. Mobile phone is 021-103-1003, and email is

Other Contributing Staff: During both semesters a Faculty Advisor in the Information Technology group will supervise the conduct of the research project, and give research support.
See the current list of proposed projects though there may be other projects not on this list.
To help choose a faculty advisor see
the list of IT/IS staff research interests .
list of previous postgrad research may be useful to suggest topics.


Aim: Information Technology Project (158.799) is a postgraduate capstone paper for Information Technology students completing an honors degree (e.g., BInfSc(Hons), BBS(Hons)) or a postgraduate diploma (e.g., PGDipInfSc, PGDipBusAdmin). It also often a course requirement for Masters and PhD students in their first year The principal outcome is that the student learns to carry out research and produces an academic report that describes the results of a research project in the student's area of interest. To consider this course, see “Why do an IT Research Project?”


Calendar Prescription:

An in-depth study of information sciences research, exploring both research methods and project execution. This paper provides a practical approach to the principles and practices of academic research.

Learning Outcomes: The principal outcomes are an academic report that describes the results of a practical project in the student's area of interest which generates research outcomes, and demonstrates the student’s knowledge of IT research:

1. Produce a research project report in the student's area of interest.

2. Demonstrate knowledge of research methods and practice

The link between the Research Methods and the Research Project is that one teaches theory and the other teaches practice. The paper is approximately one third Research Methods and two thirds Research Project. In the first semester, teaching is split between both aspects, while the second semester is mainly project work.

Prerequisite(s): none


Corequisite(s): none


Restrictions: no restrictions


Assessment: The assessment of this paper runs over an entire year. The grade is determined partly by work throughout the year, and partly by the academic quality of the final project report, as shown in the table below. Research methods and project work both contribute to the course, as the research method presented in the final project constitutes part of the grade.




Graded Out Of

Research Methods (30%)



   Research assignments



      Research Assignment 1. Read a paper.



      Research Assignment 2. Data Collection



      Research Assignment 3. Research Practice






   Final project (assessment of research method)



Project Work (70%)



    Project progress



      Ch 1. Draft Introduction (& presentation)

-5% if not done


      Ch 2. Draft Literature Review (&presentation)

-5% if not done


      Ch 3. Draft Proposed Method (&presentation)

-5% if not done


       Project Proposal                      






   Final Project Report                



      Project Presentation (group assessed)



      Final project (assessment of value, literature
      review, writing quality and layout)










All assignments submitted for this course originate in computer form. Students must retain a copy on their own computer of all material submitted, as backup in case something happens to their submitted work.


By submitting any material to this course for assessment, the student authorizes instructors to retain a copy of that material for grading and teaching. Instructors may reference a part of that material, or parts of it, given the student involved is anonymous, for the purpose of instructing other students, and for their learning benefit.


Research progress: Writing the project report occurs throughout the semester in an iterative process. Printed versions of the Draft Chap 1. Introduction, Chap 2. Literature Review, and Chap 3. Method are due at the dates given in the timetable. Each working day late will reduce the points graded out of by 1. To gain full marks students must also present to get feedback from their peers. Students who submit a chapter but do not present may expect only 50% of the available marks.


Project proposal: The project proposal (Chap 1, 2, and 3) is submitted as TWO printed copies, one to the course coordinator and one to the supervisor for marking and feedback, using the standard A-F grading system. Each working day late reduces the points graded out of by 10%.


Research Assignment 3. Research Participation: The requirement is to be involved in a real research based activity. Research is COLLEGIAL, i.e. research means working with others not working alone. Researchers present their work to others for constructive criticism at conferences and through journals. They also try help others by listening to and reviewing other's work and offering suggestions. Even the best researchers gain from being reviewed, and from doing reviews. Even beginner researchers should know that research is as much a social act as an intellectual one. This requirement is satisfied firstly by one 10 minute presentation at the CS/IS Research Workshops (2%), Wed 3pm QA5, PLUS a presentation at the IIMS Postgrad Conference in October (2%). PgDip students may present a poster, but Masters or Phd students are expected to present a paper. It is up to the student to initiate these participations. Otherwise it could also be by participating in actual research, or by actually analyzing real data, e.g. that collected in assignment 2.



IIMS Postgrad Conference, October 2009 – 3% for participation

Paper Submissions Due:

Reviews Due:

Submission Camera Ready Version:


Submissions: Short Paper with Poster: 4 pages, or less (PgDip), Full Paper with Presentation: 8 pages, or less (Masters/PhD)


Final Project presentation: Students make a 15 minute presentation (plus 5 minutes extra for questions), that offers a comprehensive summary of the research project. The presentation is graded by a panel of Information Systems staff, based on the content of the presentation, the presentation style, and the response to questions. See ProjectDayTimetable for more information.


Final Project Report: TWO printed copies of the final project report, PLUS an electronic CD copy, are required at the due date given in the timetable, given to the coordinator. See project report for more detail on the final report requirements. For guidance, a 157.799 Assessment Report is provided.


Both the supervisor and an internal examiner will mark the final project report for research method and academic quality. Both will independently recommend a grade to the coordinator who will then determine the final mark and grade. These criteria will be applied to determine an overall grade:

·                  A-level work: To achieve an A grade the final project report must meet all of the criteria listed above. If the report exceeds expectations in one or more areas, then an A+ should be considered. "A" means excellence, not just achieve.

·                  B-level work: Generally, competent research that employs a sound methodology and analysis of the results to answer clearly stated research questions. The study has no major flaw, but it has problems in two or more of the criteria specified above.

·                  C-level work: Generally, barely adequate coverage of the literature, an acceptable methodology that was flawed in execution and/or a straightforward discussion of the issues without displaying much insight or originality. The study has at least one major flaw and fails to meet a number of the criteria specified above.

·                  D-level work: There are major problems in the execution and presentation of the project. Generally, the result is a superficial report that shows a general lack of understanding or application of appropriate research methods.


Deadlines and Penalties: Assignments must be done professionally and submitted on time. Being on time is part of being professional. Plan to complete assignments with this in mind. If you leave things until the last moment, you are predictably vulnerable to the unexpected. All assignments due in class (see Timetable) are due at the beginning of the stated class period. For assessments that involve specific events, like project progress presentations and the final presentation, no “late” or “redo” is possible, as part of the desired learning experience is that event. For the final project, the time deadline for submission is very tight, so each working day late will reduce the points graded out of by 10, and projects submitted more than two days late will not be accepted, except under exceptional circumstances. Other assignments lose 10% for each working day late, and will not be accepted at all after five days (over one working week late).


Requirements to Pass the Paper: All of the course assessments must be attempted. Also note that failure to complete any of these requirements will lead to a DNC unless covered by the Aegrotat Regulations.


Learning Programme and Schedule: This is not a "here is your assignment, go off and do it" paper. Instead, the student in a sense defines their own course, e.g. chooses the research topic and method. The research project is an unstructured piece of academic work that is completed in an independent manner. There are many independent decisions to be made by the student, and sometimes there are no correct answers – though often there is better and worse research. Good writing skills, the ability to think analytically, and a high degree of self-discipline is required.


The coordinator will coordinate student progress through the project. It is the student-selected Faculty Advisor who is responsible for guiding the content of the project. Unlike in any other paper, students will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a member of the Information Systems staff in a research project. Although many aspects of the student/instructor relationship still exist, students will also be in a partnership with the supervisor that approaches the collegial relationship that is typical of the world of work, not the world of school.


E-learning Category: Web supported through the syllabus and other materials available at


Conditions for Aegrotat Pass: As this paper does not have a compulsory assessment element that occurs at a fixed time and place aegrotat applications will not be considered. Contact the Paper Coordinator if you are unable to complete assessment elements because of illness, injury or a serious crisis.


Conditions for Impaired Performance: If you consider that your performance in, or preparation for, an examination, or another compulsory assessment element that occurs at a fixed time and place, has been seriously impaired by illness, injury or a serious crisis, you may apply for an impaired performance consideration.  You must apply on the form available from the Examinations Office, the Student Health Service or the Student Counselling Service.


Student Time Budget: Information Systems Project is a 30-credit paper. That equates to 25 hours of work per week for a 15-week semester, or the equivalent of over 8 weeks of full-time work (375 hours).


Textbook and Other Resources: The required Research Methods textbook is “Sekaran, Uma, 2003, “Research Methods for Business”, 4th Ed, Wiley. You need this book to design a good method for your research.

The writing format required is as described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th edition). This "research writers Bible" offers practical information about the structure of research articles, grammar and punctuation guidelines, how to properly cite and reference outside sources, and much more. Students for whom English is a second language will benefit from many of the language guidelines specified in the APA Manual. The final written project report must comply with APA style as described in the APA Manual.

See examples of APA references

Students can also use the Research Roadmap to help structure their research writing.

A useful article by Prof Gordon Hunter: Qualitative Research in Information Systems: Consideration of Selected Theories

Resources: Generally, direct costs for postgraduate research projects (e.g., specialised hardware or software, postage for surveys) are paid for by the student. However, if you feel you have a special case, then a request for funding should be submitted to the Head of Institute, via your supervisor in the initial planning stage of the project. The Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences provides a variety of support services for all postgraduate students (e.g., access to postgraduate computer labs) as well as additional services for students completing a research project (e.g., a photocopy card, access to interlibrary loan). These services are outlined in the IIMS Postgraduate Study Handbook.


Semester 1: Mondays, 1.00 - 1.50pm in IIMS Lab 1

Semester 2: Mondays, 1.00 - 1.50pm in IIMS Lab 1 at selected dates

This schedule is as complete as possible at time of publication. Research method and Research Project are taught on alternate weeks, following the Research Roadmap.






23 Feb

-- Introduce course requirements
--Selecting a topic/supervisor-- Cite and reference using APA style
--Using online sources
-- Start your <name>project.doc file
Lesson 1

Print out this Course Outline, read it, bring it to every class.
--Research Writing
Begin Research Assignment 1 Find a model paper for your research project
Read Sekaran Ch1
Read Sekaran Ch13


2 Mar

IT Research
– What is good research?
-- Why evaluate? (not just build)

Read Research Roadmap Overview
Read Sekaran Ch2


9 Mar

Research Project
-- Topic and supervisor approval due
-- Review the proposals
-- Students present a model paper

-- Deliverable OGS2 signed by advisor, or I can sign given their email OK
Submit Research Assignment 1
1-3 slide presentation (print for me!)
Read Sekaran Ch3


16 Mar

IT Research
-- The Introduction Chapter - Defining the problem, aim and value

Read Research Roadmap Introduction
Read Sekaran Ch4


23 Mar

Research Project
-- Student Presentations: My topic…

--Deliverable: Presentation "My Topic…" (+4-5 slides – print for me!)
--Deliverable: Draft print of Chapter 1: Introduction
--Deliverable: ResearchProposal-1 and Draft Chap1 given to advisor to be signed
Read Sekaran Ch5


30 Mar

IT Research
-- The Literature Review Chapter -forming the research question, theory framework, referencing others work

Read Research Roadmap Theory Review
Sekaran Ch6


6 Apr

Research Project
-- Presentations: My Research Question (Chapter 2)

--Deliverable: ResearchProposal-1 signed by advisor
--Deliverable: "My Research Question" presentation (+4-5 slides– print for me!)
--Deliverable: draft print of Chapter 2: Literature Review and Research Question
Deliverable: ResearchProposal-2 and Chap2 given to advisor to be signed
Read Sekaran Ch7








27 Apr

IT Research
-- Choosing the right method, Research Design,

Read Research Roadmap Method

Begin Research Assignment 2
Sekaran Ch8


4 May

Research Project
-- Collecting data, interviews, questionnaires
-- Ethical issues in Research Projects

Work on assignment 2
--Massey University Human Ethics Web site
Read Sekaran Ch 9
--Deliverable: ResearchProposal-2 signed by advisor


11 May

IT Research -- Research Methods

Submit Research Assignment 2
Read Sekaran Ch 10


18 May

Research Project
-- Presentation: My Method (Chapter 3)
your method should allow you to gather your results in about a week

 --Deliverable: "My Method" presentation (+5-6 slides– print for me!)
--Deliverable: Draft print of Chapter 3: Method
--Deliverable: ResearchProposal-3 and Chap1 given to advisor to be signed
Read Sekaran Ch 11


25 May

IT Research – Analysis
--Writing Ch 4: Results/Conclusions
--Writing Ch 5: Discussion

Read Sekaran Ch12
Read Research Roadmap Results



1 June

All Semester 1 Research Proposal Reports/CD due by 5pm Monday,

--Deliverable: ResearchProposal-3 signed by advisor
Hand in printed copy of the Final Proposal, with no spelling errors, APA refs, PLUS a labeled CD with <yourname>799Proposal.doc file on it
(no email submissions accepted)
--Deliverable: Project Progress Report and Proposal (Ch 1/2/3) given to advisor






13 July

Semester 2 starts
-- Attend the first class of 158.799 for a progress report (absences noted)
Sign up for the IIMS PG conference

--Deliverable: Project Progress Report signed by your advisor.
Revise and update versions of chapters 1-3 (based on comments) by now


7 Sep

Progress check
-- Submit draft RESULTS chapter 4

--Deliverable: Chapter 4: Results (draft) submitted to Advisor and Coordinator


28 Sep

Progress check
-- Submit draft DISCUSSION chapter
--Sign up for project presentation day times

--Deliverable: Chapter 5: Discussion (draft) submitted to Advisor and Coordinator


27 Oct

Project Presentation Day
QA1 -Ground floor Quad A Project Day Timetable

* Project Presentation
* Printed handout (6 slides/page)


9 Nov

All Semester 1 Research Projects Reports/CD due by 5pm Monday to Brian Whitworth, or leave in addressed envelope at Quad A Reception, 2nd Floor.(email submissions not accepted)
NOTE: Give BOTH final copies to me.

* TWO printed copies of Final Report, no spelling errors, APA refs,
* PLUS a labeled CD with a <yourname>799Project.doc file AND any code written, database used etc also on the CD


Ethical Approval: See and complete a low risk approval

If after completing your want to go on to do a master's thesis, see Master's Degree with Thesis Information Sheet

Plagiarism: Massey University, College of Sciences, has taken a firm stance on plagiarism and any form of cheating. Plagiarism is the copying or paraphrasing of another person’s work, whether published or unpublished, without clearly acknowledging it. It includes copying the work of other students. Plagiarism will be penalised; it is likely to lead to loss of marks for that item of assessment and may lead to an automatic failing grade for the paper and/or exclusion from enrolment at the University.


As part of every report print a cover sheet with name, date, title, and the statement of academic integrity:
I declare that this research study is entirely the product of my own work and that it has not been taken from the work of others. When the work and ideas of others have been used in the study, the work has been properly cited in the text.", and then sign and date it below. An electronic copy of your final report will be submitted to to evaluate the report for plagiarised content.


Proposed Feedback and Support for Student Learning: At certain dates during the academic year draft chapters of the final report will be due, and you will get feedback from meeting with your project advisor. You submit two printed copies of both your proposal and final, plus a CD with an electronic version in case further copies need to be printed. The student will receive comments and suggestions from the coordinator and other class members during their presentations. They are expected to integrate those into the chapter for resubmission later in the semester and, of course, in the final report.


A "Report on Project Progress" is due in August. The report allows both the supervisor and the student an opportunity to assess the progress on the project at a critical time of its preparation. It is, more or less, an "early warning system" to detect serious problems in time so that appropriate corrective action can be taken.


Students are strongly encouraged to both attend 158.799 classes and to meet with their supervisor on a regular and consistent basis, e.g. fortnightly.


Grievance Procedures: A student who claims that he/she has sustained academic disadvantage as a result of the actions of a University staff member should use the University Grievance Procedures. Students, whenever practicable, should in the first instance approach the University staff member concerned. If the grievance is unresolved with the staff member concerned, the student should then contact the College of Sciences office on his/her campus for further information on the procedures, or read the procedures in the University Calendar.


Additional Information and Advice: 158.799 should be taken in the final year of your postgraduate enrolment. In your postgraduate career, first take as many taught postgraduate papers as you can to explore topics of interest to you and to acquire research resources necessary to investigate them.

158.799 is a full-year (S1/2) paper. Typically, in semester 1 you will produce final drafts of the first three chapters (Introduction and Background, Literature Review and Research Methodology). In semester 2 you will complete the project by carrying out the data collection and writing up the results in chapters 4-5 (Results/Conclusions, Discussion,).


To take 158.799 as a first semester (S1) paper you need some advance project preparation. Why? The development and execution of a 30-credit research project requires more time than allowed in a 13-week semester. It is suggested that you consult with your desired Advisor in December or January to ensure you get the project you want.