DCS891A Research Seminar 1

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Leedy and Ormrod, Practical Research (8th Edition), Prentice 2005, ISBN 0131108956.
Strunk and White, The Elements of Style (4th Edition), Longman 2000, ISBN 020530902X.

Other recommended but not required books

This is the first of a series of five research seminars, see Research Seminars. This seminar introduces the student to what research in computing and information technology is about. Faculty and/or invited researchers will make presentations of their own or of others' research. Students will be given material to read in advance of the presentations, and are expected to participate in discussions about the essence and context of the research. This semester we focus on the traditional dissertation process, and next semester we focus on the agile DPS dissertation process.

Course Website:
An extensive course website presents all the course information (Blackboard is used only for quizzes). Links in the left menu area are to:

Classroom etiquette: please turn cell phones off during class time.

Graded Events and Grade Scale

Five quizzes, each with a 30-minute time limit, are to be taken via Blackboard. The quiz questions are based on the readings and are not difficult if you have read the material. You see the entire quiz, questions can be answered in any order, and answers can be changed before final submission. The quizzes are designed not only to check that you read the assignments but also to increase your capability of quickly processing and comprehending reading material. All quizzes must be attempted and at least half of the total quiz points achieved.

Individual Assignment 1: Dissertation Evaluation:
Doctoral dissertations by DPS students are research reports. Evaluate a dissertation in accordance with the checklist on pages 9-10 of the Leedy & Ormrod text. PDF versions of the DPS dissertations are available from the left menu area link to Dissertations. As practice, we will evaluate a paper summarizing a dissertation as an in-class exercise at our first session. This written deliverable is due at our second session.

Individual Assignment 2: Literature Review:
Conduct a literature search and draft a review. The search should identify seven to ten pieces, including work that is seminal as well as work that lays the foundation for the ad hoc problem. The review should be composed in accordance with instructions for "Evaluating, Organizing, and Synthesizing the Literature" and the guidelines for "Writing a Clear and Cohesive Review" on pages 77-79 from Leedy & Ormrod. This written deliverable is due at our third session.

Individual Assignment 3: Writing Improvement:
Using simple sentences, avoiding unnecessary verbiage, and using words correctly as well as adhering to the rules of grammar and punctuation as needed for precise expression, correct and clarify a given piece of prose. Use tips from Strunk and White. This written deliverable is due at our fourth session.

Individual Assignment 4: Reverse Engineer an Idea Paper from a Dissertation:
Choose a DPS dissertation from the Assignment 1 list of dissertations. Then, write an idea paper (an idea paper is a brief proposal) on which the dissertation might have been founded. Use the instructions for writing a research proposal given by Leedy & Ormrod in chapter 6, looking closely at the guidelines on pages 121-124 and the "Common Weakness in Research Proposals" identified on pages 126-127. Be certain to explain why the problem is important (Fred's "so what?"). This assignment will be presented and discussed at our fourth session. This written deliverable is due at our final session and must also be posted on the web.

In order to be fair to those students who complete the course in a timely manner, our policy is to reduce the grade of those students taking an incomplete by a letter grade for each semester, or portion thereof, that the incomplete is in effect.

Graded Events
Event Possible points
Quizzes on Readings 100 points
Assignment 1:
Dissertation Evaluation
100 points
Assignment 2:
Literature Review
100 points
Assignment 3:
Writing Improvement
100 points
Assignment 4:
Reverse Engineer an Idea Paper
from a DPS Dissertation
100 points
Total 500 points

Grade Scale
500 points = 100%
Grade Assigned Score Definition
A  93-100% 465 or more points Dominates the Material
A-  90-93% 450-464 points Masters the Material
B+  87-90% 435-449 points Good Understanding
with Flashes of Stellar Work
B  83-87% 415-434 points Good Understanding
B-  80-83% 400-414 points Aptitude for the Subject
Less than 80%
below 400 points Weak for Graduate Work