Monday, 3 October 2016

Term paper and presentation guidelines


Please acknowledge and reference all third party material, copyright etc.
University College Dublin policies on plagiarism apply. 

On the subject of Writing - A couple of general points may be useful.
Consider phrasing your investigation as a question.
Working Title: Initially, phrase a research question as the title of the paper (you can change it later).
Abstract: Restate and expand on the research question in the abstract (you can change it later when you have analysed your findings).
Research Access: Make good use of your personal access to your contacts, projects or companies, past or present for providing data.

The challenge is to design a study that adequately accesses the kind of data that can be analysed in such a way that you can make substantial inferences from the data. There are different ways of going about the work. I would expect you to juxtapose your proposal against previous studies of a similar vein in the area.

2. Term paper options
Choose from three different approaches:
A. Usability, requirements analysis, and feasibility study to update a digital business product/service.
B. Understanding, applying and evaluating the use of XYZ research method: lessons learned evaluating a digital business product/service.
C. A company/project case study: lessons learned from a project to enhance/develop a  digital business product/service.
2.1 Audience: The term-paper is written from the perspective of the technology product/project manager addressing decision-makers of an organization (those people in charge of the system you are analyzing). It will make the case for what the current state of the system is and how it can be improved.
2.2 Research Methods: Use at least two different research methods to conduct the empirical study.
Additional comments:
Any proposed changes should be based on an analysis of the existing situation (e.g. conduct the trial research exercise. You should be able to name the elements of and sketch the existing system before proposing a new system.

3.0 Deliverables: Term-paper plus video presentation
Term-paper: Approximately 5,000 words (not including cover page, figures, footnotes or appendix). Further guidelines below.
Video presentation: The video presentation can give a concise overview of the subject matter and impact of your term-paper in a short video format (4 minute duration).
You are expected to create your own original narration and/or spoken audio content, similarly you should utilise as much of your own visual/graphical material as possible. You can of course utilise various elements sourced elsewhere (subject to license) as background or linking pieces, e.g. diagrams, music etc. if needed as content or for artistic balance.
Grade deduction if the presentation/video has text-to-speech narration or uses 'canned animation.'
While not being graded separately from the term-paper, no presentation video results in losing half the available mark for the research project.

The following is merely one possible way of structuring the report.

i. Cover page
Authorship and declaration
Word count
I. Introduction: 
Background to the high-tech product (product/service system) and relationship with the wider environment e.g.:
  • Organisation responsible; who made it? 
  • Customers and market size; who used it? 
  • Features and why the product was great (or not); what it is? 
  • Year commenced, year released, number of versions or generations; when? 
  • Development cost or ballpark estimate; how much? 
  • Original purchase price, rental or fee structure; how much and how many? 
II. Requirements: 
Initial problem statement and description of use and consumption characteristics of the system: user goals, features.

III. Research methods, data, evaluation. 
What you did and what you found out. A description of what analytic/empirical methods you used for evaluating the system. Why did you choose these methods? Provide a rationale why your choices were appropriate. Who were your informants (anonymous: job description, age group, expertise), how did you recruit them, and how many? How long did data collection take? What kind of data was gathered? Comment on difficulties encountered in carrying out the research. What confirmed your intuitions? What problems were revealed? What unexpected results did you discover?

IV. Solution, prototype or proposed new system: 
What you want to change. Consideration of the new 'whole product' experience, usability and product use/interaction. What artefacts (digital and non-digital) are closely tied or have interconnections to your system. The best usability studies often reveal surprising, unexpected ways in how users appropriate a system and consider the social, economic, cultural, external factors that may have shaped the users’ experience with the system. Move beyond the system when writing your results. For example, it may be the that environment is important in a system’s usability. Are there non-technological solutions to the issues you found? How can they be addressed? Provide diagrams or sketches of the current system use/interface and the proposed improved one will look like. Make the connection between your prototype and how it is informed by your research.

V. Proposal to develop the system: 
How you will go about making the change. Link the proposed prototype with development and organisation processes recommended to develop the system etc. This may be speculative or based on informed guesswork but consider the production characteristics, life cycles, org structure, process, practices. Address concerns surrounding testing, implementation and operational aspects. Recommendation on maintenance activities may account for things like product generations, versions and release history, how to service users, CRM and issue tracking, and how to update the system.

VI. Summary & Conclusions

VII. References