IT Research Methods

FIT5185 – IT Research Methods Week 2

Unfortunately I was absent for week 2 of IT Research Methods and the lecture delivered by Prof. David Arnott. The lecture was focussed on the initial stages to any research project, literature review.

  • Thematic Analysis – Qualitative in nature, classifying papers according to themes that are relevant to your research project.
  • Bibliographic Analysis – Quantitative in nature, using citation and/or content analysis. (rarely used in IT research)

A question posed at the start of the lecture; what is scientific evidence? Journal and conference papers along with websites, blogs, book and trade magazines were listed as possibilities. Before reading through the lecture I feel that any of these mediums could qualify as scientific evidence. Peer reviewed academics articles would however present a much more filtered source with blogs and websites most likely containing much more refutable contentions. It seems unwise to completely discount a source of information purely on the ground that it is a blog or website though.

The notes go on to present a rating system for journals, A, B and C, the A listers being:

  • Decision Support Systems
  • European Journal of Information Systems
  • Information and Management
  • Information Systems Journal
  • Information Systems Research
  • Journal of Information Technology
  • Journal of Management Information Systems
  • Journal of the Association for Information Systems
  • MIS Quarterly

The aim of a literature review can be summarized as:

  • Synthesis of articles
  • Define and understand relevant controversies
  • Based on critical review (note notes or observations)
  • Reads like an essay (but can use tables)

It seems that the thematic method of literature review is the avenue we will be encouraged to follow, which seems quite reasonable. Thematic review can be author and/or topic centric. Author centric review would only be appropriate in very limited niche topics where the published articles are by a limited number of researchers. When taking on topic centric review, creating a table with concept categorization for articles is recommended:

Webster & Watson Concept Matrix - Source week 2 lecture notes

Some questions are presented at the close of the lecture (which I imagine were answered in the lecture):

  • How long should a lit review be?
  • How many papers should be reviewed?
  • What tense should be used?
  • Which citation methodology? APA/Harvard?

I will have to follow up on these in the coming tutorial.

Finally there was a youtube video listed in the review materials for the week which included some good points:

  • What is the purpose of a literature review?
  1. Summarized what has been researched before
  2. Highlights the research gaps that you will aim to fill
  3. Why it is necessary to fill those gaps
  4. Set the scope of your research
  • Scope and length? – Does it need to be everything you know? No, the current state of the theory. Length requires discussion wit supervisor, but consider this is a summary of current research. Summary of existing knowledge, review of current research.
    Look for flaws, disagreement among researchers.
  • Sources – Refereed international journals, Books/Chapters, national journals, conference papers, non-refereed articles.
  • Review of instruments – What are you using to gather data to support your hypothesis, are they an acceptable source, why?


Basic Framework:

  1. Introduction
  2. Broader Communication Issues
  3. Likely Causes (Attack methods/motivations/scenarios)
  4. Mitigation Methods
  5. Summary of literature
  6. Research aims

Make a check list for evaluating articles!

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