FIT4005 IT research methods - Semester 2 , 2006 unit guide

Semester 2, 2006

Chief Examiner

Helana Scheepers


Caulfield : Various lecturers depending on the subject


FIT4005 is a compulsory unit for all honours students. It forms the basis for all research that students will conduct. FIT4005 introduces students to a variety of issues, concepts, methods and techniques associated with IT research. Skills developed and knowledge acquired from this unit will prepare students to conduct their own research, as well as to be knowledgeable consumers of others' research.


After completing this unit students will:

have knowledge and understanding of:

  • Basic research concepts, major philosophical foundations (theory, framework, paradigm, scientific method and methodologies in general)
  • Research methods and techniques relevant to IT research.
  • Key issues in IT research.
  • History of research
  • The strengths and the limitations of a variety of research methods, and the choices and trade-offs that need to be made in designing a research project.
  • The process of reviewing research literature on a specific topic.
  • Ethical practice, social networks and the role of peer review related to conducting research.

have developed attitudes of:

  • Confidence in themselves as informed consumers of published research, able to critically evaluate the relative quality and merits of reported research findings.
  • Confidence in their ability to undertake independent research and to complete a thesis.
  • Ethical awareness in relation to issues that arise in the conception, design and implementation of research.

have the skills to:

  • Identify research opportunities and also the potential problems in undertaking research in a particular area, or in using a particular method or approach.
  • Write an effective critical and evaluative (ie not simply a descriptive) review of the research literature on a particular topic.
  • Evaluate a research topic and produce a sustainable research design, effective research proposal, research propositions and operationalise research propositions.
  • Devise data collection instruments and procedures for analyzing data for a particular project.

have the communication skills to:

  • Communicate research ideas effectively in oral or written form.
  • Perform peer review


Before attempting this unit you must have satisfactorily completed an approved undergraduate degree in business information systems (BIS) or computer science (CS) or information technology and systems (ITS) or equivalent. You should have foundation knowledge in computer science or business information systems or information technology and systems fundamentals.

Unit relationships

FIT4005 is a core unit in the Honours degrees. Before attempting this unit you must have an approved undergraduate degree in business information systems (BIS) or computer science (CS) or information technology and systems (ITS) or equivalent. You should have foundation knowledge in computer science or business information systems or information technology and systems fundamentals

Texts and software

Required text(s)

Recommended reading will be provided for each lecture.

Textbook availability

Recommended reading will be provided for each lecture.

Software requirements

Students will be required to use SPSS, Nvivo and word processing packages to complete their assignments.

Hardware requirements

On-campus students, and those studying at supported study locations may use the facilities available in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook. You will need to allocate up to 2 hours per week for use of a computer, including time for newsgroups/discussion groups.

Recommended reading

Additional reading:

W. Lawrence Neuman (2003) Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, 5th edition, Allyn and Bacon

Williamson, K., et al. (2002). Research methods for students, academics and professionals: Information management and systems (2nd ed.). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

A list of additional readings will be provided for each lecture. See the web site for the list.

Library access

You may need to access the Monash library either personally to be able to satisfactorily complete the subject.  Be sure to obtain a copy of the Library Guide, and if necessary, the instructions for remote access from the library website.

Study resources

Study resources for FIT4005 are:

The FIT4005 web site on MUSO, where lecture slides, weekly tutorial requirements, assignment specifications and supplementary material will be posted.

Unit website

Structure and organisation

Week Topics Key Dates
1 Introduction to IT Research method unit, Library workshop
2 Literature review and conceptual study
3 Research approaches and research design, Ethics Workshop (Optional at Caulfield Campus
4 Design of Investigations: Experiments, surveys, measurements, sampling
5 Design of Investigations: Methods, Research Proposal Workshop 14 August Assignment 1 due
6 Descriptive statistics
7 Analysis of Quantitative data (1), Tutorial in Laboratory 28 August Assignment 2 due (12 noon)
8 Analysis of Quantitative data (2), Tutorial in Laboratory
9 Analysis of Quantitative data (3), Tutorial in Laboratory 11 September Assignment 3 due (12 noon)
10 Field research, Case study research, Literature review workshop 18 September Research proposal due (12 noon)
Non teaching week
11 Positivist Case studies, Presentation Workshop
12 Analysing qualitative data, evaluating interpretive fiels studies, Action Research, tutorial in laboratory 9 October, Assignment 4 due (12 noon)
13 Focus groups, Design Science, Writing Thesis Workshop 23 October Literature review due (12 noon), 26 - 27 October Presentations


The timetable for on-campus classes for this unit can be viewed in Allocate+


Assessment weighting

You will be asked to assess whether you have achieved the objectives of this subject through a number of assignments related to your Honours Thesis and assignments related to each of the Blocks. The intention is that the assignments related to the Honours Thesis will support you in conducting and concluding a high quality result.

Assessment Policy

To pass this unit you must:

receive an average mark of 50% or above. You are also require to attend 5 workshops and 5 seminars. The workshops and seminars are hurdle requirements and you will not receive your final marks until you have met this requirement.

Your score for the unit will be calculated by:

Assignments related to the Research Thesis (total assessment value 40%):

  • Research proposal, Value 10%, 18 September, 2006
  • Literature review, Value 20%, 23 October 2006
  • Presentation, Value 10%, 26 27 October 2006

Assignments related to Blocks (total assessment value 60%):

  • Block 1 Assignment, Value 15%, 14 August , Literature review assignment
  • Block 2 Assignment, Value 15%, 28 August 2006, Investigation assignment
  • Block 3 Assignment, Value 15%, 11 September, Hypothesis testing SPSS assignment
  • Block 4 Assignment, Value 15%, 9 October 2006, Nvivo exercise or analysis of a qualitative research paper

You are also require to attend 5 workshops and 5 seminars. These are hurdle requirements and you will not receive your final mark until you have met this requirement.

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Due Date Weighting
Block 1 Assignment 14 August 15%
Block 2 Assignment 28 August 15 %
Block 3 Assignment 11 September 15 %
Research Proposal 18 September 10 %
Block 4 Assignment 9 October 15 %
Literature review 23 October 20 %
Presentation 26-27 October 10 %
No Examination Exam period (S2/06) starts on 23/10/06 0 %

Assignment specifications will be made available FIT 4005 Unit website.

Assignment Submission

Assignments will be submitted by paper submission to the front desk of the Caulfield School of IT by the due date.

Extensions and late submissions

Late submission of assignments

Assignments received after the due date will be subject to a penalty of 10% of the mark awarded.

This policy is strict because comments or guidance will be given on assignments as they are returned, and sample solutions may also be published and distributed, after assignment marking or with the returned assignment. 


It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. 

Requests for extensions must be made by email to the unit lecturer at least two days before the due date. You will be asked to forward original medical certificates in cases of illness, and may be asked to provide other forms of documentation where necessary. A copy of the email or other written communication of an extension must be attached to the assignment submission.

Grading of assessment

Assignments, and the unit, will be marked and allocated a grade according to the following scale:

Grade Percentage/description
HD High Distinction - very high levels of achievement, demonstrated knowledge and understanding, skills in application and high standards of work encompassing all aspects of the tasks.
In the 80+% range of marks for the assignment.
D Distinction - high levels of achievement, but not of the same standards. May have a weakness in one particular aspect, or overall standards may not be quite as high.
In the 70-79% range.
C Credit - sound pass displaying good knowledge or application skills, but some weaknesses in the quality, range or demonstration of understanding.
In the 60-69% range.
P Pass acceptable standard, showing an adequate basic knowledge, understanding or skills, but with definite limitations on the extent of such understanding or application. Some parts may be incomplete.
In the 50-59% range.
N Not satisfactory failure to meet the basic requirements of the assessment.
Below 50%.

Assignment return

We will aim to have assignment results made available to you within two weeks after assignment receipt.


Feedback to you

You will receive feedback on your work and progress in this unit. This feedback may be provided through your participation in tutorials and class discussions, as well as through your assignment submissions. It may come in the form of individual advice, marks and comments, or it may be provided as comment or reflection targeted at the group. It may be provided through personal interactions, such as interviews and on-line forums, or through other mechanisms such as on-line self-tests and publication of grade distributions.

Feedback from you

You will be asked to provide feedback to the Faculty through a Unit Evaluation survey at the end of the semester. You may also be asked to complete surveys to help teaching staff improve the unit and unit delivery. Your input to such surveys is very important to the faculty and the teaching staff in maintaining relevant and high quality learning experiences for our students.

And if you are having problems

It is essential that you take action immediately if you realise that you have a problem with your study. The semester is short, so we can help you best if you let us know as soon as problems arise. Regardless of whether the problem is related directly to your progress in the unit, if it is likely to interfere with your progress you should discuss it with your lecturer or a Community Service counsellor as soon as possible.

Unit improvements

This unit has changed from a burst mode to a weekly lecture and tutorial session

Plagiarism and cheating

Plagiarism and cheating are regarded as very serious offences. In cases where cheating  has been confirmed, students have been severely penalised, from losing all marks for an assignment, to facing disciplinary action at the Faculty level. While we would wish that all our students adhere to sound ethical conduct and honesty, I will ask you to acquaint yourself with Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Faculty regulations that apply to students detected cheating as these will be applied in all detected cases.

In this University, cheating means seeking to obtain an unfair advantage in any examination or any other written or practical work to be submitted or completed by a student for assessment. It includes the use, or attempted use, of any means to gain an unfair advantage for any assessable work in the unit, where the means is contrary to the instructions for such work. 

When you submit an individual assessment item, such as a program, a report, an essay, assignment or other piece of work, under your name you are understood to be stating that this is your own work. If a submission is identical with, or similar to, someone else's work, an assumption of cheating may arise. If you are planning on working with another student, it is acceptable to undertake research together, and discuss problems, but it is not acceptable to jointly develop or share solutions unless this is specified by your lecturer. 

Intentionally providing students with your solutions to assignments is classified as "assisting to cheat" and students who do this may be subject to disciplinary action. You should take reasonable care that your solution is not accidentally or deliberately obtained by other students. For example, do not leave copies of your work in progress on the hard drives of shared computers, and do not show your work to other students. If you believe this may have happened, please be sure to contact your lecturer as soon as possible.

Cheating also includes taking into an examination any material contrary to the regulations, including any bilingual dictionary, whether or not with the intention of using it to obtain an advantage.

Plagiarism involves the false representation of another person's ideas, or findings, as your own by either copying material or paraphrasing without citing sources. It is both professional and ethical to reference clearly the ideas and information that you have used from another writer. If the source is not identified, then you have plagiarised work of the other author. Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty that is insulting to the reader and grossly unfair to your student colleagues.


Communication methods

Communication in this unit will be through:

  • class contact
  • email to tutors/lecturer
  • consultation with tutors/lecturer
  • unit discussion group

If you need a staff member urgently and are unable to contact them, please contact: Caulfield School of IT Reception Desk, Level 6 Building H, Ph: 9903 2535


Notices related to the unit during the semester will be placed on the Notices Newsgroup in the Unit Website. Check this regularly. Failure to read the Notices newsgroup is not regarded as grounds for special consideration.

Consultation Times

By making an appointment.

If direct communication with your unit adviser/lecturer or tutor outside of consultation periods is needed you may contact the lecturer and/or tutors at:

Warning: fopen( [function.fopen]: failed to open stream: Connection timed out in /web/nfs/infotech/web/units/info-guide/unit.class.php on line 22

Warning: fpassthru(): supplied argument is not a valid stream resource in /web/nfs/infotech/web/units/info-guide/unit.class.php on line 23

Warning: fclose(): supplied argument is not a valid stream resource in /web/nfs/infotech/web/units/info-guide/unit.class.php on line 24

Warning: fopen( [function.fopen]: failed to open stream: Connection timed out in /web/nfs/infotech/web/units/info-guide/unit.class.php on line 22

Warning: fpassthru(): supplied argument is not a valid stream resource in /web/nfs/infotech/web/units/info-guide/unit.class.php on line 23

Warning: fclose(): supplied argument is not a valid stream resource in /web/nfs/infotech/web/units/info-guide/unit.class.php on line 24

All email communication to you from your lecturer will occur through your Monash student email address. Please ensure that you read it regularly, or forward your email to your main address. Also check that your contact information registered with the University is up to date in My.Monash.

Last updated: Aug 7, 2006