Introduction to Research in Informatics, Fall 2013

Course Coordinates:
Mondays, 3:00 – 5:40 PM
IT 257

Dr. Amy Voida
IT 591
Office Hours: Mondays, 2:00-3:00 PM and By Appointment


This syllabus will function as a collaboratively constructed contract among all of the stakeholders in this course. It is a living document that will evolve through in-class discussion as the dynamic needs of the students and their research emerge. Students are responsible for being in class, taking ownership of this course and their learning, and noting all changes to the syllabus as it evolves. The instructor is responsible for being attuned and responsive to the needs of the students and to the dynamic and often unpredictable nature of the research process. The draft syllabus you are reading is a starting point for ongoing dialogue…


Course Description

This course presents a broad overview of research philosophy, designs and methods. Its focus is on social science research methods, and the content is specifically tailored to reflect the rapidly emerging field of informatics. The course will include major methods that are at the core of contemporary approaches to research in informatics.

This is a project-based course in which students will learn core research competencies by designing, conducting, and writing up the results of their research. At the conclusion of the course, each student will be able to:

  • Collaborate in the construction of new knowledge;
  • Translate a topic of research into multiple empirical research questions reflecting different methodological perspectives;
  • Articulate the strengths and weakness of different research methods in a given context;
  • Conduct a robust literature review on a given research topic and identify gaps of knowledge in that literature;
  • Design a cohesive research endeavor to answer a research question that has not yet been addressed sufficiently;
  • Collect research data in a rigorous manner;
  • Analyze research data in a rigorous manner;
  • Identify the unique contributions of a research endeavor, specifying its intellectual merit and broader impact to society
  • Discuss research-in-progress via textual, visual, and oral modalities;
  • Address the ethical issues that accompany any research endeavor;
  • Offer cogent and constructive critiques of others’ research; and
  • Identify the faculty members and graduate students who can support their research area of interest.



Week Of
Agenda Readings Deliverables

(Due at 3PM on Monday unless otherwise noted)

19 Aug Introduction to the course and the semester’s research topic N/A N/A
26 Aug Collaborative brainstorming on the research topic Flick Ch 1: “Why Social Research,” pp. 3-16

Flick Ch 2: “From Research Idea to Research Question,” pp. 18-28

Flick Ch 3: “Reading and Reviewing the Literature,” pp. 31-42

Brainstorming cheat sheet (5 Ideas)
No Class – Labor Day
9 Sep Elevator pitch presentations Flick Ch 4: “Planning Social Research,” pp. 45-58

Flick Ch 5: “Designing Social Research,” pp. 60-78

Flick Ch 6: “Deciding on Your Methods,” pp. 80-99

Team covenant

Elevator pitch presentation & team self assessment

16 Sep Workshop on research design

Flick Ch 7: “Gathering Data: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches,” pp. 103-130

Flick Ch 8: “Analyzing Quantitative and Qualitative Data,” pp. 132-163

Primary research question & three sub-questions

Annotated bibliography (with the current versions of your research questions for my reference) & team self assessment (Due by 8 AM on Thursday)

23 Sep

Nuts and Bolts of the IRB Process, Guest Lecture by Casey Mumaw (IU Human Subjects Office)


IRB certification (CITI Training)

Complete draft of your research design “Guzdial” chart

5 quiz questions for next week’s readings (Due by 8AM on Friday)

30 Sep Workshop on data collection

Flick Ch 9: “E-Research: Doing Social Research Online,” pp. 165-177

Flick Ch 10: “Integrated Social Research: Combining Different Research Approaches,” pp. 179-194

CITI Module on “Internet Research”

First draft of your data collection instrument (e.g., survey or interview protocol)

Revised annotated bibliography (with the current versions of your research questions for my reference) & team self assessment (Due by 8 AM on Friday)

7 Oct

One-on-one team meetings:
2PM: Team PT
3PM: Team X
4PM: Team Moustache
5PM: Team Interactive

Tuesday Overflow…
2PM: Team WM


Intro + Lit Review = Research Question; Research Plan (Guzdial Chart); & IRB application (Due in hardcopy at the time of your team meeting)

IRB application submitted (recommended that you submit before fall break); team assessment will be due upon receipt of IRB approval

No Class – Fall Break
21 Oct Informatics research at IUPUI: faculty presentations


Flick Ch 1: “Why Social Research,” pp. 3-16

Flick Ch 2: “From Research Idea to Research Question,” pp. 18-28

Flick Ch 3: “Reading and Reviewing the Literature,” pp. 31-42

28 Oct Informatics research at IUPUI: faculty presentations


Flick Ch 4: “Planning Social Research,” pp. 45-58

Flick Ch 5: “Designing Social Research,” pp. 60-78

Flick Ch 6: “Deciding on Your Methods,” pp. 80-99

4 Nov

Team meetings for data collection in the field and/or in the lab


One-on-one team meetings:
2PM: Mark

11 Nov Midpoint presentations N/A Midpoint presentation & team self assessment
18 Nov Workshop on data analysis I


Flick Ch 7: “Gathering Data: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches,” pp. 103-130

Flick Ch 8: “Analyzing Quantitative and Qualitative Data,” pp. 132-163

25 Nov Workshop on data analysis II


2 Dec Final paper editing round robin

Take Home Reading Quiz Due

Flick Ch 11: “What is Good Research? Evaluating Your Research Project,” pp. 200-213

Flick Ch 13: “Writing Research and Using Results,” pp. 229-242

15 hard copies of the full draft of your research paper (for the outside editor feedback deliverable)
9 Dec Poster presentations N/A Poster & team self assessment
Finals TBD N/A Final paper & team self assessment
7 Jan A subset of final research papers, as curated by the instructor, may be submitted to an appropriate publication venue (e.g., CHI Works-in-Progress)



The primary text for this course will be:

  • Flick, U. (2011). Introducing research methodology: a beginner’s guide to doing a research project. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Supplementary readings will be provided by the instructor.


Assessment & Evaluation

Reading Quizzes 30%
IRB Certification 10%
Research Deliverables:  
 • Team Covenant 5%
 • Annotated Bibliography 1 5%
 • Elevator Pitch Presentation 5%
 • Research Plan & IRB Application 5%
 • Midpoint Presentation 5%
 • Outside Editor Feedback 5%
 • Poster 10%
 • Final Paper 20%


All grades will be recorded as individual grades. All reading quizzes and the IRB certification must be completed independently. Each research deliverable will receive a team score; each individual’s grade will be computed as a modulation of the team score based on their percentage contribution as agreed upon by all team members (see the assignment section for more information). All students are assumed to have unique strengths, which will influence their contribution to each deliverable. If students elect to contribute more on some deliverables than others, the modulated grading will balance out in the end, reflecting each students’ overall engagement over the course of the entire research lifecycle.

Numerical grades will be converted to letter grades based on the following scale:

A+       97 – 100 B+       87 – 89.99 C+       77 – 79.99 D+       67 – 69.99 F          0 – 59.99
A         93 – 96.99 B         83 – 86.99 C         73 – 76.99 D         63 – 66.99  
A-        90 – 92.99 B-        80 – 82.99 C-        70 – 72.99 D-        60 – 62.99  


Incomplete grades will not be given in this course, as any successful research enterprise requires the commitment of all researchers.

If you experience a personal emergency during the semester, please obtain a letter from a doctor or other legitimate source of verification. Although much of the work in this course cannot be made up after the fact, we will work with your research team to re-balance contributions to the research deliverables and to provide any opportunities possible to help you succeed.



All assignments are due by the date and time posted. There is no “late policy” in this class; there are deadlines. If you want to earn credit for your work, you should plan on meeting these deadlines. You may earn partial credit on assignments by submitting whatever you have finished at the time of the deadline.

Reading Quizzes
At the beginning of each class for which a reading was assigned, students will be given a quiz in order to assess their understanding of the material and their preparation for the week’s research activities. In advance of each of these classes, students may optionally prepare one sheet of paper (8 ½” x 11”) with notes to refer to during the quiz. In computing the final, aggregate quiz grade, each students’ lowest quiz score will be dropped.

IRB Certification
Ethics training is expected of anyone conducting research with human subjects—anyone involved in the design, conduct, or reporting of the research; and anyone having significant interaction with participants. Students must complete the courses applicable to human subjects research from CITI (

Research Deliverables
In this course, you will conduct research in informatics. The class will collectively examine a research topic from multiple epistemological and methodological vantage points. Students will work in small teams, tackling one aspect of the broader research topic. Final papers will be curated and outstanding research may be submitted to an appropriate publication venue.

There will be numerous research deliverables due throughout the course. More details about each deliverable will be provided as the course progresses. Note that for each deliverable (except for the covenant), each research team must also submit a corresponding team assessment. These team assessments must be signed by each team member and submitted on paper.


Additional Policies

A complete list of campus policies governing IUPUI courses may be found online at: Selected policies are highlighted below.

Academic Integrity
Each student in this course is expected to adhere to the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct of IUPUI ( Academic dishonesty is completely unacceptable and any persons involved in such conduct will be disciplined in accordance with university regulations and procedures.

Educational Accommodations
I strive to design my courses in ways that accommodate students with a diversity of learning needs and styles. If you have needs that I haven’t anticipated, please register with Adaptive Educational Services ( and notify me during the first week of classes about any approved accommodations.

If you require accommodation for religious observances, please notify me by the end of the second week of the semester using the Request for Course Accommodation Due to Religious Observance Form (

Administrative Withdrawal
It is expected that all students participate in all class discussions and conscientiously complete all required readings and deliverables. Because of the collaborative nature of the research enterprise, it is particularly essential that all students commit to and engage fully with the content and deliverables of this course. If a student is unable to attend, participate in, or complete an assignment on time, it is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor and his or her teammates. If a student misses any of the following without contacting the instructor, the student may be administratively withdrawn from this course:

  • If the student fails to complete two of the first three reading quizzes;
  • If the student fails to submit the IRB certification by the specified deadline; or
  • If the student fails to contribute to any of the research deliverables without negotiating this zero contribution in advance.

Administrative withdrawal may have academic, financial, and financial aid implications. Administrative withdrawal will take place after the full refund period, and a student who has been administratively withdrawn from a course is ineligible for a tuition refund. Contact the instructor with questions concerning administrative withdrawal.


Creative Commons License
This Introduction to Research in Informatics syllabus by Dr. Amy Voida is licensed under a
a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

If you re-use and/or adapt this syllabus for use at your institution, in addition to providing attribution please consider dropping me an email and letting me know. This information is extraordinarily useful for tracking the broader impact of my curriculum development. Thanks!