Course Syllabus

Learning Objectives

  1. Appreciate Information Studies as an intellectual area and a social phenomenon
  2. Develop broad familiarity with research questions and approaches across Information Studies
  3. Learn to read and analyze academic research articles, including those outside one's area of interest
  4. Develop succinct research proposals appropriate for different fields in Information Studies


The core of this course is reading, analyzing and discussing academic articles across a broad conceptualization of Information Studies as an intellectual area. The material covered will give you a clear base of familiarity with the major research questions, approaches and genres of Information Studies. As a scholar in Information Studies you will eventually be expected to have extremely deep familiarity with your chosen areas of concentration, but (as we will see) Information Studies is a broad area and a competent Information scholar is able to intelligently appreciate and discuss research with scholars from quite different backgrounds.

Class Structure

This is a doctoral seminar. As such class sessions will primarily consist of group discussions. These discussions will help us, as a group, to understand and analyze an article both for its empirical and theoretical content and as a piece of research. We will learn how to approach these discussions in the first class. Each week we will identify the characteristic phenomena, questions, methods and research justifications of the research field.

Required Text

The majority of readings will be academic articles available as PDFs.  There is just one book needed for the course, and it is one that will be useful to you throughout your PhD.

Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (2008). The Craft of Research, Third Edition. University Of Chicago Press.

(Definitely need the third edition, key chapter for our class (Warrants) was revised). And don't forget about Amazon Prime for Students (the UT bookstore also has it)



Weekly papers.

Students will prepare a 2-3 page paper each week, focusing on two of the readings for that week. The paper will consist of a structured analysis and a short, free-form, reflective essay. We will discuss the form of the structured analysis in the first class meeting. Each student should be prepared to initiate a discussion based on their papers. These are due at 9am Monday morning the day before class, so that I can read and grade them prior to class. In addition, students will identify a) a top rated publication venue in the field, b) academics at peer iSchools that are in the field and c) a mailing list or other online forum in which academics in that field interact.

Research Design papers. There are two of these papers, one due early in the semester, one later. Each paper will choose a phenomenon and present three research designs approaching that phenomenon from different areas of Information Studies. For example, one might look at Wikipedia from the perspective of information organization, or from the perspective of socio-technical systems. Your designs must be coherent and reasonable, but they don't have to be things that you'd actually want to carry out, nor do they have to be particular innovative (although they should, of course, be your own work).  In fact, the intention is that you create something on genre and conventional for each field. The most important part of these assignments is to demonstrate an understanding of the discourse to which they claim to be, using appropriate research questions, language, methods, justification and reference literature. Students will present their second paper in the final week of class, focusing on explaining why their design represents how the chosen field would likely approach the phenomenon in question (and discussing why the field does that).

Statement on Academic Honesty

This course and your PhD is about becoming an independent scholar.  You must familiarize yourself with appropriate academic conduct and honesty by reading this guide.  I will follow the university disciplinary procedures for any cases of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism.


Course Summary:

Date Details