Motivation and Purpose of the Book
You are requested to develop the objectives of a project in the domain of Computer Science or Information Systems:
1. Describe at least two objectives of the selected project
2. Describe at least one method for each selected objective
3. Present a Literature Analysis of the selected project
4. Describe the techniques or approaches that can be used for each method. Your well-written paper should meet the following requirements: Be four pages in length, which does not include the title page, abstract or required reference page, which are never a part of the content minimum requirements. Use APA style guidelines.
Support your submission with course material concepts, principles and theories from the textbook (which is attached) and at least four scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles.
One of the strongest instincts we have is the desire to learn new things about the world we live in. In fact, through our entire life we never stop learning new things. This has been crucial for our survival, but it also stimulates our curiosity. Very young children learn by copying the behaviour of others. Learning is later extended to acquiring knowledge through other modes of communication, e.g. through books, lectures and labs. One of the primary goals of academic training is to learn how to learn, i.e. to learn how to continuously absorb new knowledge. This is increasingly important in rapidly changing areas such as computer science and information systems.
The process of exploring the unknown, studying and learning new things, building new knowledge about things that no one has understood before – that is what we think of as performing research. Undertaking a thesis project is one step towards an increased understanding of how to study, how to learn about complex phenomena, and towards learning how to build new knowledge about the world around us. A thesis project is a capstone in undergraduate and graduate education, and as such, it builds and tests the skills and knowledge acquired during your education and training to become professionals. The thesis project is different from a traditional course in several ways; in its size, in its goals, in the form of examination, in the form of supervision and in the form of communication (personal dialogue, as opposed to lectures).
A project represents a significantly larger workload than a single course. While traditional courses include lectures and lab work, where the focus is on acquiring knowledge in a specific subject area, the thesis project focuses on deepening your understanding of a subject. But above all, it should give you training in carrying out projects independently, at an advanced level, using a sound method. This introductory chapter sets the scene for the book, discusses the characteristics of thesis projects, and explains how best to use this book in order to complete your project successfully.
Actors in the Project
According to the ACM/IEEE Computing Curricula 2005 there are five major computing disciplines: Computer engineering, Computer science, Information systems, Information technology, and Software engineering. Although the material covered in this book is applicable to all five computing disciplines, we will focus on examples related to computer science and information systems. Computer science and information systems are two areas spanning a wide range of topics, for example, artificial intelligence, CASE-tools, database systems, human-computer interaction, information systems assessment, programming languages, operating systems, and web based information systems. The areas are multi-disciplinary in the sense that they have elements from the natural sciences (mathematics, logic etc.) and human sciences (psychology, philosophy etc.).
The multi-disciplinary nature of the covered areas does not simplify the task of performing a project; indeed it presents profound challenges and interesting problems. Areas such as social science, psychology, mathematics, and engineering have established guidelines and methods for formulating problems, and for choosing appropriate research methods. The wide range of areas within computer science and information systems means that it is not always easy to formulate a problem that is suitable for a project, to choose the appropriate research method, or to develop a structure for a written report. Furthermore, many students experience uncertainty as to what to expect from a project, how to complete it within the given time frame, and how to attain the goals of the project. This is understandable since most students will have had no prior experience of a project as complex and as broad in scope as a thesis project. It is difficult to envisage what it will be like. These concerns are due partly to the lack of suitable textbooks and the lack of references specifically targeting students doing projects in computer science and information systems.
Moreover, the project is probably the biggest project you, as a student, will have undertaken in your academic life, and maybe even in your life. This book focuses on the process of carrying out a project, with a particular emphasis on the roles and responsibilities of the student, the supervisor and the examiner. The aim of the book is to bridge the gap between different research methods and describe the general process of carrying out a project in the computing disciplines. In this book we identify a series of actions that should be of assistance to you when planning and carrying out your project.
The three main actors in the project are you (the student), the supervisor and the examiner. Of the three actors, you are the most important, since you are the one who moves the project forward. You focus on solving some well-defined problem in a specific area, and thereby increase your understanding of the area. But you also learn methods that can be used to approach, structure and solve complex problems. The supervisor is your ally. He or she should not only give you advice to help you achieve success in your project, but will also critically point out strengths and weaknesses. Normally he or she is a domain expert in the area in which you are doing your project.
The dialogue between you and the supervisor serves as a compass for establishing directions when exploring new areas. In contrast, the examiner is the person who critically evaluates your work, and recommends or decides the grade. The examiner is not necessarily a domain expert in the specific topic of your work, but normally has a good understanding of the subject area generally. More importantly, the examiner has significant experience, enabling him or her to review your work with respect to both content and method. A positive interaction between these three actors is vital for the successful completion of a project. Note that while these are three distinct roles and are usually performed by three different people, the roles of supervisor and examiner may sometimes be carried out by the same person. However, there are many advantages of keeping the roles strictly separate.