Interdisciplinary Research Design for Information Sciences and Technology
An interdisciplinary introduction to graduate research design for investigating how data and information technologies are created, analyzed, and evaluated. IST 501 serves as the central foundational course for graduate students who intend to conduct research in IST. Although each student may eventually focus on one or several methods discussed in the course, the College is committed to providing all of its research students an interdisciplinary mindset regarding their own and their peers’ research activities. This mindset is a defining feature of IST research training. The course provides foundational information regarding three contrasting research perspectives of IST: Social Informatics, Human-Centered Design and Computational Informatics. The three perspectives are presented in an interleaved fashion, one week at a time, with gradually increasing complexity and sophistication in the methods used. The methods address requirements for, design of, and impacts of information technologies used to meet people’s information needs at multiple levels of analysis, including individuals, groups, organizations, and national and global cultures. The technologies investigated are of various types, including algorithms, structured data, user interfaces, and distributed systems. Each one-week methods topic is practiced through an individual homework activity and a team project is used to provide an integrated application activity that cumulates throughout the semester. Through reading of contemporary and classic literature, demonstrations and practice with specific research techniques, and sharing and reflection on individual and team research activities, students will explore fundamental assumptions, theories and directions in contemporary research design useful to researchers in IST. The emphasis of this course is on defining and developing conceptual linkages between human behavior, the social, organizational, and cultural context of information and technology use, human experience when learning or using information and computing technologies, and the construction of information and computing technologies. The interdisciplinary research design will operate at individual, group, and other units of human, social, and organizational analysis, and across a range of information technologies.