Computer Science and Information
Systems Research Projects
This book outlines a general process for carrying out thesis projects, and it embraces
the following components as fundamentally important: (1) identifying the question/
research problem; (2) planning time and resources; and (3) choosing a research
method for studying the specific question. In this section, we consider how a thesis
project relates to research and research methods. First, we discuss the different
areas within computer science and information systems.
The Landscape of CS and IS
Computer science and information systems have been described and defined in
many different ways in the literature. One illuminating characterisation of computer
science, given by Edsger W. Dijkstra, is as follows: “Computer science is no more
about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.” However, to avoid being too
abstract for our purposes with this text, we will avoid in-depth elaboration of the
various characterisations and definitions. Instead, we give one general view, which
we then illustrate with specific examples of problems. These serve to give some
idea of the broad scope of computer science and information systems.
The 1975 ACM Turing Award winners Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon
(Newell and Simon, 1976) characterised computer science (CS) as an empirical
discipline, in which each new artefact, e.g. a program, can be seen as an experiment,
the structure and behaviour of which can be studied. In particular, the field of
computer science is concerned with a number of different issues seen from a tech-
nological perspective, e.g. theoretical aspects, such as numerical analysis, data
structures and algorithms; how to store and manipulate data (e.g. by means of a
database system); the relationship between different pieces of software (i.e. different
types of architecture, such as client-server, peer-to-peer, two-tier, three-tier);
techniques and tools for developing software (i.e. software engineering, program-
ming languages and operating systems).
The field of Information Systems (IS), as characterised by Allen S. Lee (2001),
is concerned with the interaction between social and technological issues. In other
M. Berndtsson et al. (eds.),
Planning and Implementing your Computing Project - with Success!
© Springer 2008