Why do an IT Research Project?

Conducting independent research in 158.799 is unlike anything you have done in your university education.

Initiative. First, you have the opportunity to select a topic of special interest to you and explore that topic in considerable detail. This is not a "here is your assignment, go off and do it" paper. Instead, you, the student, will determine the topic that you will study and research. Many students pick a topic that interests them from their undergraduate or postgraduate papers (e.g., systems development, user interface design, IS security, e-commerce). Other students identify a project that will help them advance in their current work, or enable them to jump on their career ladder on a higher rung and climb it faster. Within limits, what you want to research is your decision, a liberating aspect of 158.799 that many students find exciting and refreshing.

Size. This will be a substantial piece of academic work, far larger than any other previous assignment you have undertaken. Information Technology 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 9 weeks of full-time work (375 hours). That quantity of work on a single academic project can be intimidating, but it can also open up the opportunity for a challenging project.

Faculty support. You have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a member of the Information Systems staff; you will not be just one of many students in a classroom. Although many aspects of the student/instructor relationship still exist, you will also be in a partnership with your supervisor that approaches the collegial relationship that is typical of the world of work, not the world of school.

But, 158.799 can be a difficult paper. The research project is an unstructured piece of academic work. There are many independent decisions to be made, there are no correct answers to some questions, considerable writing and analysis skills are expected and some students are unprepared for the high degree of self-discipline that is required.

There are trade-offs too. If a postgraduate diploma student does not do the research project and the associated research methods paper, then three other taught papers can be included in your degree. A few students may find the additional learning acquired in taught papers is more consistent with their career goals, rather than a research project.

So, is 158.799 for you? If you are an honors student, the answer is yes, as a research project is an Honors degree requirement. Additionally, any postgraduate diploma student who intends to go on to complete a masters thesis will have to complete 158.799 for the research experience a 30-credit research project will provide.

When to do the IS Research Project?

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. Note that 158.799 is a full-year paper, (over semesters 1 and 2). In semester 1 you produce a PROPOSAL (Introduction and Background, Literature Review and Research Methodology) of what you intend to do. In semester 2 you complete the project and write up the research d results in a FINAL REPORT (add Results, Discussion, Conclusion).

To do well in 158.799 you should think about your project over summer and who you want to do it with.