The University of Sheffield
Department of Computer Science

COM6905 Research Methods and Professional Issues

Summary This module aims to provide a solid foundation for the Dissertation Project (COM6906). Students receive instruction both through taught lectures, and from their project tutors on an individual weekly basis, including: advice on research methods and technical writing style; risk analysis and contingency planning; peer-review processes; and the details of working within a professional, legal and ethical framework. The module is assessed on the basis of a project background report, which is submitted at the end of the spring semester, and on additional peer-review activities.
Session Spring 2017/18
Credits 15

Students will be assessed on their performance in a peer-review activity, e.g. writing a well-reasoned review of a previous year's dissertation.

This will assess the students' specific knowledge of their project topic, as evidenced by a detailed and concise review of current literature and/or industrial practice in the field. In particular, the project background report will be required to contain material addressing the following, which are mandatory components of the assessment:

  • Risk analysis (including scientific risk and commercial risk) and contingency planning for the management of risk;
  • The professional, legal and ethical framework in which their work will be carried out;
Lecturer(s) Dr. Paul Watton
Resources Unconfirmed practical marks when available

This unit aims to prepare students effectively for the Dissertation Project, including familiarisation with:

  • Background literature in their chosen project area
  • The peer-review process;
  • Risk management and contingency planning, including the evaluation of scientific risk;
  • Professional, legal and ethical frameworks.

By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Write a review of relevant background material which is concise, well-structured, up-to-date and critical;
  • Establish a feasible plan for the Dissertation Project;
  • Assess material as part of the peer-review process;
  • Analyse risk (including scientific risk and commercial risk), and formulate viable contingency plans for the management of risk;
  • Work within, and appreciate the implications of working within, appropriate professional, legal and ethical frameworks.

Lectures (6 hours) will cover the basic skills and knowledge required to conduct the dissertation project to a professional standard:
Scientific method and writing (1 hour)
Communication and presentation skills (1 hour)
Ethical and professional issues (1 hour)
Risk management (1 hour)
Intellectual property law (1 hour)
Contract law (1 hour)

Teaching Method

One lecture per week for six weeks. Weekly individual meetings with the project supervisor.

Feedback Written feedback will be given on the peer-review activity and project background report. Lecture classes will include discussion sessions, in which students will receive feedback on their responses to case study problems.
Recommended Reading To be confirmed.