Postgraduate Portal
15 Aug 11

This Portal is aimed to help my post-graduate students. It links to useful stuff about the formalities of being a student at UNSW@ADFA, to some suggestions about carrying out post-graduate studies, and to knowledge sources of value.
Student Administration
UNSW@ADFA has a site for post-graduate students. It contains links to information about post-graduate life here, from enrolling to graduating. It also has pointers about life in Canberra.
The authoritative source of all matters concerning post-graduate students is the Graduate Research School (GRS) . You must know this site. It contains the rules for confirmation, review, and submission of theses.
Research Methods
There are many sources that provide advice about carrying out research. Probably the best overview of all of the different approaches to research is given in Katrin Niglas' (2004) dissertation. Her diagram shows the wide diversity in these approaches. It shows that, despite the natural scientists' assertions, there is no one way of carrying out research.
Mixed Methods
The Tashakkori and Teddie (2010) Sage Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research provides a very useful description of all of the various methods - from positivist to interpretivist and beyond. I suggest that you get this book.
As of 2007, there is now a
Journal of Mixed Methods Research. It is available from the eJournals in the Library.
Qualitative Research
There are conferences devoted to furthering the cause of qualitative research in IS.
Design Research/ Theory/ Science
The research method that I prefer is Design Research. It advocates using the literature to suggest the parameters for the design of an artefact, such as management guidelines or software, and then testing its usefulness and usability. The major proponents (but not necessarily in agreement) of this approach are Alan Hevner and Shirley Gregor, so search for their work on Scholar Google (or equivalent). I used to be able to attach their papers for your convenience but the copyright laws prevent it these days.
The best source of material about Design Science is now DESRIT (Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technology, http://www.desrist.org). Use it as your guide to the growing literature in this area.
You should also read Shirley's paper about the "
Nature of Theories in Information Systems" and "Theory of Theories".
A recent article from
Alturki et al (2010) from the University of Queensland provides a 'roadmap' that pulls together Shirley's work with the various design science methods.
Various students have summarised the work on Design Science, as part of their theses. You should find these summaries useful, when preparing your justification of your research approach. They include:
There is also a considerable body of literature about the science of design, which is about improving the design process rather than about using design as a research approach.
Writing Theses
I have produced a template for a thesis that confirms with the instructions given on this site. It also makes some suggestions about the structure of the typical IS thesis.
In particular, when the time comes, you need to know what is involved in submitting your thesis. So, use the Thesis Submission Kit to print the Notification of Intention to Submit a Thesis for Examination Form, the Originality Statement, and the Thesis/ Dissertation Sheet. You can download this Kit from the GRS site.
There are some pointers to the writing of theses, available from various Universities.
The UNSW@ADFA Library provides several valuable services. You should make the most of these services - and of the helpful staff.
You can learn a lot from the work of previous students. They provide a guide to relevant literature. They give examples of what is acceptable to examiners. You will find their theses on the Australasian Digital Thesis site linked though the library. The students whose work is most relevant to you include:
  • Dennis Hart
  • Leoni Warne
  • Alan McLucas
  • Andrew Dowse
Also have a look at the theses of recent successful DIT graduates, to see what can be done.
Knowledge Sources
The general theme for most of my students is the design of viable systems. You can find more about this topic from my Mentor site for Strategic and Systemic Thinking Go there to find links to the material about
  • Governance
  • Control and its related cybernetic principles
  • Risk-Response thinking
  • Coupling and its essential role in the design of remedies