INLS 089: Research Project & Poster

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Students will propose, develop, and conduct a small-scale research study on some topic under the broad umbrella of Social Informatics. At the end of the semester, these studies will be presented as posters in a public poster session.

Students should work in groups of 2 or 3. Groups larger than that tend to become unwieldy, as coordination between multiple schedules becomes increasingly complicated.

In this research-exposure course, you will be working with a Graduate Research Consultant, Lori Richards, who will assist you in the research project. The GRC Program is sponsored by the Office for Undergraduate Research, and you may be able to use this research-exposure course to meet a requirement of the Carolina Research Scholars Program. I encourage you to visit the OUR website to learn about how you might engage in research, scholarship and creative performance while you are at Carolina.

This research project will consist of the following pieces:

Problem Statement

See the Problem Statement section of the assignment description for Diane Kelly's section of INLS 780, Research Methods

Literature Review

See the Literature Review section of the assignment description for Diane Kelly's section of INLS 780, Research Methods

Research Proposal

See the Research Proposal section of the assignment description for Diane Kelly's section of INLS 780, Research Methods

I strongly recommend that you undertake secondary data analysis for your research project: in other words, conduct analysis on an existing dataset, rather than collecting your own original data. Why? Because collecting data is a time-consuming process: leverage others' time and efforts as much as you can. We will discuss in class how to find appropriate data sources for your projects, and how to conduct analyses to answer your research questions.

Poster

Groups will prepare a poster in which they will present their research projects. At the end of the semester, we will hold a class-wide poster session (possibly in collaboration with other courses... stay tuned), in which groups will present their posters publicly.

Most poster sessions at conference require a brief writeup, for inclusion in the conference proceedings. These are generally 2 or 4 pages. You will create a 2-page summary of your poster, suitable for handing out at the public poster session.

Here is some good advice on designing scientific posters.

Alternative assignment

Instead of a research study, a group could propose, create specifications for, and develop a new software tool designed for a specific use by a specific user community. Obviously if you choose to pursue this alternative assignment, you must already have some programming skills, prior to this course. You will still present a poster in the class poster session, to show off and demo your application.

A good example of a software tool that was developed for a specific purpose, but is so useful that it has spread widely, is Ushahidi, and the developing ecosystem of tools around it. A good example of a mashup developed from pre-existing tools and datasets is the EveryBlock Chicago crime section, formerly chicagocrime.org.


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