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Syllabus: Bright Summer School: Connecting Topics, Methods, and Writing

Higher education credits: 3 HEC
Cycle: third cycle.
Main field: informatics.
Position in the educational system: the course is an elective summer school course within the third cycle.
Entry requirements: Participants shall be enrolled in a master’s, PhD, or PostDoc program.

Examiner: Ass. Prof Regina Hebig 


The scientific education often focusses on investigating one problem in depth. However, for the later work as an independent researcher as well as for personal development it is crucial to be able to take on a broader perspective on the scientific field. This goal of this course is to provide participants with a broader perspective on four selected topics of Applied IT and software engineering, allow them to collect experience with giving constructive feedback on other’s research and writing, as well as adopting ideas and methods from other specializations, and planning joined cross-topic future research. Therefore, the course uses theoretical lectures and practical sessions to familiarize participants with the state of the art and current research topics in the following four selected topics:

1. Software Analytics
2. Software Security
3. Digital Infrastructure & Design Thinking
4. Model -Driven Software Development

Using these four topics, three fundamental cross-topic skills will be trained:

  • Reviewing is one of the main services researchers are doing to their communities. The need to be able to review, scientifically judge, and constructively criticise papers that are not about one’s own main research topic is crucial. A seminar/master class format will be used to enable students to train this ability.
  • Lifelong learning: Researchers do not stop learning after they receive their PhD degree. Lifelong learning often means learning from research done in nearby fields and specializations. Again, it is crucial to be able to identify and adopt new methods that are already used in other fields of Informatics. Participants will work in groups to explore and reflect on the adoption of methods from the four presented topics.
  • Joined research: Interdisciplinary research is known as the research form with the strongest potential to provide game-changing results. Cross-topic research within informatics can be seen as the little brother of this concept, having a similar depth as single topic research, but often leading to relevant breakthroughs. Learning will be achieved through reflecting on how one’s own research relates to the presented fields.

Learning outcomes

After completing this course the student should be able to do the following:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Provide a short overview on the state of the art and current research topics in the four presented research fields
  • Explain how one’s own research topic relates to another specialization in informatics

Skills and abilities

  • Adopt and motivate the adoption of methods from other research fields
  • Constructively criticize research papers from nearby specializations

Judgement and approach

  • Judge research papers from nearby specializations
  • Critically reflect upon another specialization’s research and identify and discuss potentials for joined research with your own topic.

Course literature
A complete list of literature will be available well in advance of course start.

Form of teaching
The course is divided in four topics. Each topic consists of an introductory lecture placing the specific topic in a scholarly scientific context, an active workshop part, as well as reflection sessions. Lectures will partially be held using the flipped class room philosophy. Therefore, participants will be provided with research papers 2 weeks in advance. Those need to be read before the summer school. The participants are strongly recommended to write and keep a learning log during the course as a support for the learning process and execution of the essay
Mini-project: Throughout the week participants will work on a mini project in groups of 5 to 6. Based on the group members’ own research questions, the four lectures and the literature, groups will prepare 2 research designs (including research questions) that are such in nature that they can be executed, i.e. provide concrete plans for data assessment and analysis. The research designs should adopt methods found in research presented in the lectures and have not yet been used by the group members themselves.

Furthermore, the research designs should be relevant for the participants own research topics. This requires the participants to understand each other’s research topics and identify synergies. Each group member should be able to argue, for at least one of the two research designs, why this is relevant to their own research.

Groups will present their preliminary results at the end of the week. The final designs should be submitted latest one week after the summer school. The document should be max. 6 pages and include a) arguments for the fit to the participant’s research topics to the submitted designs and b) a description from what lecture/research example the method was adopted,including a small paragraph for each group member on what aspects of the methods are new for their research.
Seminar: In a seminar format, participants will train giving and receiving constructive feedback on their work. Participants are asked to provide an example of their writing 1 week before the course starts. The length of the submitted example can differ, but should be no less than 5 pages and no more than 10. The example should be from a paper or thesis that is in preparation, but has not yet been submitted or published. Note, that participants are not asked to write a text especially for this summer school, but to bring an example from their ongoing work.

Participants will be paired up based on their education level (master’s students with master’s students, PhD students with PhD students …) and topic (participants that are paired up should not have too similar topics). They will be asked to prepare a scientific and constructive review (maximum 500 words) of each other’s paper to be submitted at the course start on Monday. The review should address writing, methods, threats to validity, and presentation of the research. During the Seminar on Friday, each student pair meets one of the lecturers for 30 minutes. During the meeting students give each other constructive feedback on their writing, as well as receive additional feedback from the lecturer.
Essay assignment: Each participant will bring their own research questions to the course as a basis for the essay assignments and seminar discussions. One individual essay should be written that discusses how the participant’s own research questions relate to the presented research fields. This should show the reader that the student is able to analytically and critically reflect on the lectures and literature. Further, the essay should address potential future research that connects the participant’s own work with one of the presented research fields. The essay should be submitted no later than one week after the summer school.

In order to pass the course, the students are required to:

  1. Read the literature and contribute actively during lectures and seminars,
  2. Provide an example of their own writing (max. 5 pages)
  3. Prepare a review for another participant’s paper before the course starts and actively participate in the seminar by providing constructive feedback
  4. Actively take part in group work to create 2 study designs and present those during the presentation session and submitted latest 1 week after the summer school (max.6 pages)
  5. Write one essay (max. 5 pages)

Grading scale
The course is graded in the following two marks: Pass (G), or Fail (U).
Course evaluation
After completion, the course will be evaluated by the students. The results of the evaluation shall be discussed with the students. A summary of the evaluation results together with suggestions for improvement are to be made available to students and teachers.

Additional information
Teaching and examination are in English.

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