Course Syllabus

The Research Enterprise

INF 391D.11


Fall 2015

UTA 5.468

Mondays, 12-3 pm


Instructor:                    Dr. Kenneth R. Fleischmann  

UTA 5.534


Office Hours:              Mondays 2:45-3:15 pm, Wednesdays 2:45-3:15 pm, by appointment, or via e-mail


  1. Official Course Description

An overview of the nature and purposes of research, and common methods and methodologies in information studies.


  1. General Objectives

Pursuing a Ph.D. is a commitment to a research career. The Research Enterprise will introduce students to the diverse interdisciplinary landscape of research methods and theories, and prepare students for careers in research, including seeking jobs, seeking funding, and building a research program. The course will also introduce students to the research areas and approaches of faculty and fellow Ph.D. students within the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin.


III. Specific Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, you will:


  • Gain a broad sense of the research methods and theories within the interdisciplinary information field.


  • Build competency in accessing and applying prior scholarship, including how to find scholarly literature, organize studies for comparison and evaluation, write (and re-write) a scholarly literature review, and critique a peer’s literature review.


  • Develop a research proposal for conducting original research that can help you both to learn how to seek funding and learn appropriate research design.


  1. Course Schedule





Readings – to be completed before class


Week 1



Fall 2015 Doctoral Program Handbook

Class Attendance and Participation (CAP)

Week 2


The Information Field


Burnett & Bonnici, 2013; Dillon, 2012; Olson & Grudin, 2009; Wiggins & Sawyer 2012; Zhang, Yan, & Hassman, 2013

Online Discussion (OD); Faculty Interests

Week 3


Doctoral Education in the Information Field


Cooke, 2014; Dillon, 2007; Jaeger et al., 2010; Sugimoto et al., 2011; Sugimoto, Russell, & Grant, 2009

OD; Senior Peers’ Wisdom

Week 4


Evaluating Research

Felder, 2002; Frodeman & Briggle, 2012; Hahn, 2008; NicholsonIoannidis, 2012; Rothenberg, 2010

CAP; Grant Solicitation

Week 5



Bates, 1999; Becker & Niehaves, 2007; Burke, 2007; Fleck, 1936; Hjorland, 1998


Week 6


Reviewing the Literature

Baumeister, 2012; Becker, 2008; Denney & Tewksbury, 2013; Randolph, 2009; Webster & Watson, 2002


Motivation for the Research

Week 7


Research Questions and Hypotheses

Black, 2002; Flick, 2007; Martin & Bridgmon, 2012; Wildemuth, 2009a, 2009b



Week 8


Qualitative Social Science Methods

Braun & Clarke, 2006; Kazmer & Xie, 2008; Hess, 2001; Yin, 2010, 2013



Week 9


Quantitative Social Science

Barnes & Lewin, 2004; Bechhofer & Paterson, 2000; Bradburn, Sudman, & Wansink, 2004; Guthrie, 2010; Thelwall, 2009


Literature Review

Week 10


Humanistic Research

Hoffman & Waisanen, 2015; Parikka, 2012; Porra, Hirschheim, & Parks, 2014; Ritchie, 2014; Rockwell, 2012


Week 11


Technological Research

Domingos, 2012; Goth, 2015; Karampelas, 2014; Lease & Alonso, 2014; Wolfram, 2015                            


Week 12


Proposal Presentations



Final Research Proposal;

Proposal Presentation


  1. Course Requirements


  1. Class attendance and participation policy


(a) Because the vast majority of the learning in this class will occur within the classroom, you are required to attend class regularly. Absences will only be excused in situations following university policy (illness, religious holy days, participation in University activities at the request of university authorities, and compelling absences beyond your control) with proper documentation and timely notification (prior to class for non-emergencies). Excessive tardiness may be considered as an unexcused absence except in situations following university policy.


(b) Class participation is a critical element of this course. The effectiveness of the course will be significantly impacted by the quality of your participation. Class participation is not merely attendance, but rather factors in your overall contributions to the collaborative learning environment, based on both the quantity and quality of your interactions in all aspects of the course. Discussion of class participation with the instructor is encouraged in order to ensure that you are making the most of the classroom experience and the accompanying opportunities for learning. You are expected to participate in all aspects of class discussion. You should come to class prepared to discuss the required readings, as well as your perspectives on these readings. You should strive for balance in your contributions, and your participation will not be based on who speaks the loudest or the longest, but on consistent participation of significant quantity and, most importantly, quality.


(c) Your attendance and class participation grade will be calculated by multiplying the numerical assessment of your class participation by the percentage of classes that you attend (with exceptions made for documented, university-recognized absences as noted above). Please note that regular attendance and active participation in each class session are critical for receiving a good grade in this course. For example, by actively participating in each class, you will receive a full letter grade higher than if you were to skip half of the classes or to be half-awake for all of the classes.


(d) Religious Holy Days

By UT Austin policy, you must notify me of your pending absence at least fourteen days prior to the date of observance of a religious holy day. If you must miss a class, an examination, a work assignment, or a project in order to observe a religious holy day, I will give you an opportunity to complete the missed work within a reasonable time after the absence.


  1. Course Readings/Materials


                     (a) All course readings are available on the course Canvas site


                     (b) Please make sure to complete all readings before coming to class


  1. Use of Canvas in class


To supplement our in-class discussions we will use Canvas to distribute course materials, to communicate and collaborate online, to post questions and grades, and to submit assignments. You can find Canvas support at the ITS Help Desk at 475-9400, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm, so please plan accordingly.

  1. Online Discussion


Some in-class discussions will be held primarily online. By the Friday before class, post a brief description of what you learned from the readings as well as at least one question generated by the readings. By the end of the class period on Monday, you should comment on each other’s descriptions and help answer the questions.


  1. Faculty Interests


Investigate five faculty members’ areas of interest, experience, and typical methodological choices. This will help you when it is time to choose your committee. Please share summaries with the class by posting to Canvas (approximately 1 page per faculty member) and presenting orally in class.


  1. Senior Peers’ Wisdom


Interview any three doctoral students in cohorts preceding yours about the courses that they have taken while in the doctoral program, suggestions for success, and other wisdom. Please share summaries with the class by posting to Canvas (approximately 2 pages per student) and presenting orally in class.


  1. Mock Research Proposal


Throughout the semester, you will develop a mock research proposal tailored to a real funding solicitation.


(a) Funding Solicitation: What funding solicitation will you pursue and how?

In consultation with the instructor, you will select an active solicitation from a funding agency such as NSF, NIH, NEH, or IMLS. You will propose a project to address that solicitation. In addition to the link to the solicitation, please make sure to answer the following questions (1-2 pages total):

  1. i) How did you find this solicitation and why is it relevant to your planned research?
  2. ii) What problem do you seek to address?

iii) How will you identify and analyze prior research on this topic (or closely related)?

  1. iv) What research question(s) do you seek to answer through this research?
  2. v) What research method(s) will you propose to conduct this research, and how will you employ them?


(b) Motivation for the Research: Why is it important and worthy of funding and (eventually) publication?

Provide a motivation for the research. Make sure to ground your motivation in helping to solve a real problem. Your motivation should be approximately 3 pages in length.


(c) Literature Review: What has been done on your topic to date, and what gaps exist?

Provide an overview of the research to date. Make sure not only to review various pieces of literature, but rather take care to weave them into a coherent and compelling picture of the literature. Focus not only on what has been done, but also what hasn’t. The literature review should culminate in a set of research questions that you seek to address in your research, based on gaps in the literature to date. Your literature review should be approximately 6 pages in length, please append to the Motivation for the Research.


(d) Final Research Proposal: What methods will you use to conduct your research, and how will you use them?

List and introduce the methods that you will employ in your research project, providing a brief overview of their history and prior use. Explain how you will actually employ these methods. Your description of your methods should be clear enough that another researcher with similar training could effectively carry out the research based on your write-up. Your literature review should be approximately 6 pages in length, and the overall proposal should be approximately 15 pages in length.


(e) Research Proposal Presentation: How will you pitch your research idea to potential funders, employers, etc.?

Present your research idea to a group of prospective funders. Please make sure to motivate your research, explain how it builds on work done to date, and exactly how you will conduct the research. Your research proposal presentation should last about 20 minutes, with 20 minutes for questions and discussion afterwards.


  1. Late Assignment Policy


All assignments are due by the start of class for that week. All assignments must be submitted via Canvas. Late assignments will only be excused in situations following university policy (illness, religious holy days, etc.) with proper documentation and timely notification (prior to the deadline for non-emergencies). In all other cases, assignments received after the deadline will be penalized 10% per 24-hour period. If you turn in an assignment (without prior authorization or extreme emergency circumstances) even one minute late, you will have an automatic deduction of 10% prior to grading of the assignment; if you are five days late, even an otherwise perfect assignment will only receive half-credit; and if you are ten days late, your assignment will not be graded and will not receive any credit.


  1. Grading Procedures


            Grades will be based on:

  1. Attendance and Participation (30%)
  2. Mock Research Proposal (50%)
    1. Selection of Funding Solicitation (5%)
    2. Motivation for the Research (10%)
    3. Literature Review (15%)
    4. Final Research Proposal (15%)
    5. Proposal Presentation (5%)
  3. Additional Projects (20%)
    1. Faculty Interests (10%)
    2. Senior Peers’ Wisdom (10%)


Grading Scale:

































VII. Academic Integrity


University of Texas Honor Code

The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community.


Each student in this course is expected to abide by the University of Texas Honor Code. Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student's own work, although collaboration is allowed and required in the project proposal, group report, group presentation, and interactive activity.


The projects combine teamwork with individual accountability. For the project proposal, you will need to work with your team members. For the individual report, you will need to complete your own report without help from other students. For the final project and presentation, you will need to share your individual project results with your team members (after first submitting them to the instructor).


VIII. Other University Notices and Policies


Use of E-mail for Official Correspondence


  • All students should become familiar with the University's official e-mail student notification policy. It is the student's responsibility to keep the University informed as to changes in his or her e-mail address. Students are expected to check e-mail on a frequent and regular basis in order to stay current with University-related communications, recognizing that certain communications may be time-critical. It is recommended that e-mail be checked daily, but at a minimum, twice per week. The complete text of this policy and instructions for updating your e-mail address are available at .


Documented Disability Statement


Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at (512) 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (video phone). Faculty are not required to provide accommodations without an official accommodation letter from SSD.

  • Please notify me as quickly as possible if the material being presented in class is not accessible (e.g., instructional videos need captioning, course packets are not readable for proper alternative text conversion, etc.).
  • Please notify me as early in the semester as possible if disability-related accommodations for field trips are required. Advanced notice will permit the arrangement of accommodations on the given day (e.g., transportation, site accessibility, etc.).
  • Contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (video phone) or reference SSD’s website for more disability-related information:


Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL)


If you are worried about someone who is acting differently, you may use the Behavior Concerns Advice Line to discuss by phone your concerns about another individual’s behavior. This service is provided through a partnership among the Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC), the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and The University of Texas Police Department (UTPD). Call 512-232-5050 or visit


Emergency Evacuation Policy


Occupants of buildings on the UT Austin campus are required to evacuate and assemble outside when a fire alarm is activated or an announcement is made. Please be aware of the following policies regarding evacuation:

  • Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of the classroom and the building. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when you entered the building.
  • If you require assistance to evacuate, inform me in writing during the first week of class.
  • In the event of an evacuation, follow my instructions or those of class instructors.

Do not re-enter a building unless you are given instructions by the Austin Fire Department, the UT Austin Police Department, or the Fire Prevention Services office.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due