Practice assignment 2

Title: An Empirical Study of Open-Source and Closed-Source Software Products


Did the abstract tell you the three things I said it should? If not, what did it tell you? (NB If your paper doesn’t have an abstract, it is not an academic research paper!!! Go and find another one!

Yes all three aspects are in the abstract of this academic research paper.

  • What the research/paper/article topic is – The abstract states that the report is a study of Open and Closed Source software development projects.
  • What the authors/researchers did – The abstract states the researchers quantitatively measured five hypotheses (all of which are named in the abstract) to compare the perceptions of Open and Closed Source software development. The quantified data was then validated using an empirical  study.
  • What they discovered/or created/or concluded – The abstract states that out of  5 hypotheses only 2 were supported by the results of their study. The researchers concluded that similar studies to determine the perceived benefits of Open Source software should be performed if a company chooses to move into developing Open Source software.

What seems to be the research question(s) they were trying to answer ?

Are perceptions of Open Source software objectively true?

What  method(s) did they use to answer the question(s)

The researchers performed primary research by executing Experimental Research on 3 Open Source and 3 Closed Source software development projects to test 5 hypotheses based on perceptions of Open Source software. The quantitative results of the Open Source and Closed Source projects were then compared to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

The 5 hypotheses and their associated Experimental Research tests were:

  • Open Source systems grow faster than Closed Source – Tested by dividing the total number of lines in a project by the total number of lines of code in the latest release
  • There is more creativity in Open Source projects than Closed Source projects – Tested by calculating the number of new features or methods added in each software release
  • Open Source systems are simpler than Closed Source- Tested by analyzing three calculations: average complexity of each project release, average function complexity in each release, and analysis of features only added in individual releases.
  • Open Source projects have less defects than Closed Source – Tested by calculating the function change over time (known as changing rate)
  • Open Source projects are more modular than Closed Source – Tested by comparing the growth rate of the project with the changing rate to determine how many functions need to be altered when adding a new function (also known as the level of coupling). The higher the correlation, the higher the coupling and so the lower the modularity of the system.

Note: The researchers also compared their results against those of the other researchers.

How credible do you think the paper is? (hint: look at who authors are and where and when it is published also compare what they were asking with what they did)

Overall I think that this paper is not particularly credible, mainly due to its age. It was published in April 2004 making it 13 years old, and in a fast changing field such as IT this deems its findings not particularly credible.

However I believe that the research method performed (Experimental Research) exactly matched the research question they were trying to solve, because they mapped each Open Source perception to a hypothesis which was tested and proven right or wrong by the Experimental Research method.

There were some issues with ensuring the control of the variables such as the size of the Open Source and Closed Source projects being compared. The Open Source projects Linux and Apache were being tested (and being compared against smaller Closed Source projects) and due to their large amount of success the results for the hypothesis that Open Source systems grow faster than Closed Source systems may have been skewed. Thereby reducing the credibility of the research slightly.

The paper was published in the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering journal which is a respected, peer reviewed journal.

The authors also have suitably appropriate credentials and qualifications:

  • James W Paulson – He has a MSC in Software Engineering and works as a Senior Software Engineer
  • Armin Eberlein – He has a PhD in Software Engineering and worked (at the time of publication) at the University of Calgary. He currently works as the Dean of Gradate Studies and Research at the University of Regina in Canada.
  • Giancarlo Succi  – He has a PhD in Computer and Electrical Engineering, he worked (at the time of this researches publication) as the Director of the Center for Applied Software Engineering at the Free University of Bolzano-Bozan. But most impressively as of 2004 he had written at least 150 papers for conferences, books and journals.

Did you agree, or not, with what they wrote in their conclusion? Why?

I agree with what they wrote about Open Source software having fewer defects and being more creative than Closed Source software.

As I have experience working in Open Source software development (however I do not have any experience working in a Closed Source software development team) I think that there are fewer defects in Open Source software because of the fact there is a bigger developer and tester base on Open Source projects (for example the Koha project I work on has a developer base of around 300 developers worldwide) than Closed Source which is relying on a small development team employed by the vendor company.

I am not entirely convinced about their finding that Open Source software is more complex and has less modularity than Closed Source, because they recommend the implementation of coding guidelines to solve this problem. However you have to keep in mind this research was undertaken in 2004, and so many Open Source project could have implemented coding guidelines since then. I know from experience that all the Open Source projects I have worked on/looked into have had coding guidelines.

So overall I agree with this paper but am skeptical about 2 of its 5 findings.

Briefly describe two things that you learnt from the paper

  • I learned that Open Source projects (according to this study) have fewer bugs than Closed Source projects, and they support creativity better than Closed Source projects.
  • Open Source projects are more tightly coupled (less modular), and complex than Closed Source projects and that is why the implementation of coding guidelines on Open Source projects is so important.

Summary of the paper

This paper describes the Experimental Research that the three researchers performed to quantitatively prove whether 5 views of Open Source software development are true or not. They compared 3 Open Source (Linux, Apache and GNU Compiler Collection)  and 3 Closed Source wireless protocol products to represent stable Open and Closed Source projects respectively in five Experimental Research tests which were proving (or disproving) the following:

  1. Open Source projects grow faster than Closed Source
  2. Open Source projects have more creativity than Closed Source
  3. Open Source software is simpler than Closed Source
  4. Open Source software has less defects than Closed Source
  5. Open Source projects are more modular than Closed Source

The quantitative results suggest that 2 and 4 are true, whilst in answering 1 they found that both the Open and Closed Source projects they investigated grew around the same rate. For 3 and 5 they found that Open Source software is more complex and less modular (higher coupling) than Closed Source.

Based on these findings the researchers concluded that if software development companies are thinking of developing a product using the Open Source model they need to consider their motivation (e.g. if they want to develop a product to be marketed on its reliability then Open Source is the way to go as Open Source has fewer defects than Closed Source) and to use quantitative tests such as those performed in this study to ensure the key objectives are being meet.

Citation: Paulson, J. W., Succi, G., & Eberlein, A. (2004). An empirical study of open-source and closed-source software products. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 30(4), 246-256. doi:


Academic paper analysis tips

How to recognize a academic paper.

Here are some tips that Clare gave us:

  • If an article is peer reviewed then it is highly likely to state this
  • Most journal articles are peer reviewed
  • Academic journals usually have a affiliation and the contact details for the authors for the readers to be able to contact them regarding there research
  • Academic papers have an abstract – a summary of the report which sums up the whole of the academic paper.
  • If a paper doesn’t have a abstract or references then it is highly likely not to be an academic paper


How to find academic papers?

Google Scholar – allows you to filter search results that you would find in Google.

  • You can access a free PDF of each article on Google Scholar on a link to the right of the title of each article on Google Scholar
  • You can save each article by clicking ‘Save’
  • You can generate a APA citation by clicking the ‘cite’ link under the article

NMIT databases – There are none specifically about IT

  • ProQuest is business related and Information Systems and Information Technology can be considered under this banner concept
  • Science direct
  • ERIC

Steps to skim through an academic paper to determine if the paper is well written, credible and valid:

  1. Pay attention to the title – The title should be between 7-10 words it should be clear, but concise.
  2. Pay attention to the author – Find out who wrote/performed the research
  3. Pay attention to the abstract – What is the broad area of what the research is about, what the authors did, and what the papers conclusions are.
  4. Read the introduction – This should set out where it has going. Emphasis on where we are going.
  5. Read the conclusion – Set out what the paper was about, it should not contain any new information. Should cover where it has been.
  6. Check if the research ontology, epistemology, and research method are suitable: This will allow you to determine if the research is credible and valid.


Assignment 2

Read through one of these two academic papers and write a critical review of the paper.


This weeks blog post is:

  • Choose one of our two papers
  • Read the paper
  • Answer the following questions:
      1. Did the abstract tell you the three things I said it should? If not, what did it tell you? (NB If your paper doesn’t have an abstract, it is not an academic research paper!!! Go and find another one!)
      2. What seems to be the research question(s) they were trying to answer ?
      3. What  method(s) did they use to answer the question(s)
      4. How credible do you think the paper is? (hint: look at who authors are and where and when it is published also compare what they were asking with what they did)
      5. Did you agree, or not, with what they wrote in their conclusion? Why?
      6. Briefly describe two things that you learnt from the paper.

    In no more than 250 of your own words (i.e. a paraphrase), describe what the paper is about – you could start with “This paper describes……….”



Project 2017

I have clarified the number of hours I will need to do for my project I will be doing between 300-350 hours doing the development work for Catalyst and I will be writing up my project report, keeping my blog up to date over the course of 100 hours.

Clare thought it would be nice if I wrote up a project report and if there was a report from a member of my team at work, because I will setting a precedent of a remote work placement.

Searching for an academic paper

For this weeks blog post Clare asked us to find 2 academic papers on IT and to explain why they have the features which identify an academic paper. These features, defined in this weeks notes are:

  • the title
  • the authors (usually with an email address and affiliation)
  • the abstract
  • the introduction
  • a review of other papers relevant to the topic ( a literature review)
  • a description of what the research was and what the researchers did
  • the results of what they did
  • a discussion about what the results mean
  • a conclusion
  • a list of references

Thinking about the sources I found for last weeks research journal entry I came to the conclusion that there is one that could potentially be considered academic paper, so I will start this entry by analyzing this publication to see if it is an academic paper.

System Virtualization  tools for Software Development

Title and author(s) of the article: ‘System Virtualization tools for Software Development’ by Juan C. Duenas (, Jose L. Ruiz ( and works as Senior Consultant), Feliz Cuadrado (, Boni Garcia (, Hugo A. Parada ( Note: All these authors except Jose L. Ruiz were specified as affiliated with the Department of Telematics Engineering at Universidad Politenica de Madrid

APA reference: Duenas, J. C., Ruiz, J. L., Cuadrado, F., Garcia, B., & Hugo, P. G.,. (2009). System virtualization tools for software development. IEEE Internet Computing, 13(5), 52-59. doi:

how you found the article and what keywords you used: I used the NMIT provided ProQuest research database and searched with the keyword ‘Virtualization’

What kind of article it is: Journal paper in the IEEE Internet Computing journal in September 2009.

All the reasons that you think it is an academic article:

  • This is a peer reviewed text that was printed in the IEEE Internet Computing journal which is a scientific journal.
  • It is 9 pages long (so it is an appropriate academic paper length)
  • It is cited by two other sources.
  • It has the academic journal structure
  • All of the authors are credible as they are either senior technology consultants or affiliated with the Department of Telematics Engineering at Universidad Politenica de Madrid.

How well it fits the ‘structure of an academic article’:


  • the title: System Virtualization tools for Software Development
  • the authors (usually with an email address and affiliation): Juan C. Duenas (, Jose L. Ruiz ( and works as Senior Consultant), Feliz Cuadrado (, Boni Garcia (, Hugo A. Parada ( Note: All these authors except Jose L. Ruiz were specified as affiliated with the Department of Telematics Engineering at Universidad Politenica de Madrid
  • the abstract – Yes
  • the introduction – No
  • a review of other papers relevant to the topic ( a literature review) – There is no literature review section. However it is specified that the Virtualization system design they built was based on the model and technologies in two other sources.
  • a description of what the research was and what the researchers did -Yes. The use of use-case analysis was specified.
  • the results of what they did –  Yes the use cases identified with use case analysis were specified.
  • a discussion about what the results mean – Yes this was included, in addition to further work planned to continue the research
  • a conclusion – No
  • a list of references – Yes, cites 12 other sources


How many references it has: 12

How many citations it has: 2 other sources cite it

url of the article:

Are you interested in properly reading the article or not: Yes I would be interested in reading this paper in depth because it is tying into the concept of DevOps which I have researched for several previous research journal entries.

How does it tie in with DevOps well this research papers goal was to design a generic virtualization framework solution to help make the environment that developers work in as similar as possible to the production environment reducing time wasted trying to get software ready for deployment. This is also what DevOps aims to achieve; to reduce the differences between the development and production environments.

Now for the two academic papers we need to find for this week:

Early user involvement in the development of information technology-related products for older people

Title and author(s) of the article:
Early user involvement in the development of information technology-related products for older people by R Eisma, A Dickinson, J Goodman, A Sye and L Tiwari


APA reference:
Eisma, R., Dickinson, A., Goodman, J., Syme, A., Tiwari, L., & Newell, A. F. (2004). Early user involvement in the development of information technology-related products for older people. Universal Access in the Information Society, 3(2), 131. doi:


How you found the article and what keywords you used: I found it on the ProQuest research database by searching with the keywords ‘user experience for older people’


What kind of article it is: It is a peer reviewed academic paper in the quarterly ‘Universal Access in the Information Society’ journal.


All the reasons that you think it is an academic article:

  • Peer reviewed which means at least two other academics have considered it to be useful as it adds credible information to the knowledge pool on user experience with older people
  • 11 pages so it is an appropriate length to be considered an academic paper and not a book
  • Contains references and abstract
  • Structured in typical academic paper style (see below)


how well it fits the ‘structure of an academic article’:

  • the title: Early user involvement in the development of information technology-related products for older people
  • the authors (usually with an email address and affiliation): R Eisma, A Dickison, J Goodman, A Syme, and L Tiwari
  • the abstract – Yes
  • the introduction – Yes
  • a review of other papers relevant to the topic ( a literature review) – There is no literature review section. However other studies are cited, specifically this paper states its findings match those of another study “Older citizens (50+) and European markets for ICT products and Services”
  • a description of what the research was and what the researchers did – Yes. The qualitative research methods of questionnaires, focus groups, workshops, and interviews
  • the results of what they did –  Yes, the use of statistics to quantify the qualitative results were only used in 3 locations however examples and general sum-up statements about the findings of the interviews for example were used frequently.
  • a discussion about what the results mean – Yes.
  • a conclusion – Yes
  • a list of references – Yes, cites 39 other sources


How many references it has: 39 references


How many citations it has: It is cited by by 66


url of the article:


Are you interested in properly reading the article or not: Yes I am, the topic of making technology more accessible to older people is of particular interest to me (which is why the third research journal entry I wrote was on user experience) the reason for this is I have older parents and I often end up helping them to understand un-intuitive applications which has made it very clear to me how poorly most websites and applications are designed for people that are not using technology on a frequent basis.


The Next Generation Library Catalog: A Comparative Study of the OPACs of Koha, Evergreen, and Voyager

Title and author(s) of the article: ‘The Next Generation Library Catalog: A Comparative Study of OPACs of Koha, Evergreen and Voyager by Sharon Q. Yang, and Melissa A. Hofmann

APA reference:  Yang, S. Q., & Hofmann, M. A. (2010). The next generation library catalog: A comparative study of the OPACs of koha, evergreen, and voyager. Information Technology and Libraries, 29(3), 141-150. Retrieved from

how you found the article and what keywords you used: I used ProQuest research database searching with the search term ‘Koha open source’

What kind of article it is: Journal paper in  the Information Technology and Libraries quarterly journal

All the reasons that you think it is an academic article:

  • Peer reviewed article
  • Structured as an academic paper with abstract, introduction, literature, references

how well it fits the ‘structure of an academic article’:

  • the title: The Next Generation Library Catalog: A Comparative Study of OPACs of Koha, Evergreen and Voyager
  • the authors (usually with an email address and affiliation): Sharon Q. Yang, and Melissa A Hofman (no email addresses specified)
  • the abstract: yes
  • the introduction: yes (not titled)
  • a review of other papers relevant to the topic: Literature review
  • a description of what the research was and what the researchers did: Yes. The features being compared in a qualitative comparative study of three Integrated Library Management Systems (ILMS) which are Koha, Evergreen, and Voyager, are discussed.
  • the results of what they did: The comparing of the three ILMS’s is included in the paper, along with screenshots.
  • a discussion about what the results mean: Yes, including the statement that the Koha ILMS meets the highest number of criteria in the study.
  • a conclusion: Yes
  • a list of references: Yes this contained 23 references

how many references it has: 23

how many citations it has: Cited by 14 other sources

url of the article:

Are you interested in properly reading the article or not (and give some reasons!): This paper outlines the vision for a ‘next generation library catalog’ and compares three major extant ILMS’s against this ideal to see how far we are away from it. This library catalog is the OPAC interface, which is the interface that users interact with in physical libraries or the catalog area of library websites.

The reason I am interested to read this paper is I work on Koha and so I am very interested to see how Koha compares to another open-source ILMS (Evergreen) and a proprietary competitor (Voyager). The downside to this article is because of its age a lot of the findings are out of date; it is investigating Koha 3.0 and Koha 17.05 is about to be released next month.

Searching for credible evidence

In class this week Clare asked us to research 3 sources for 2 topics: digital citizenship and virtualization technology  and answer 7 questions on each. Because my mother has been in and out of hospital for the last week, and I have been helping look after her when she was at home so please forgive my brevity in this research journal entry.

Digital citizenship

  1. Core Education Digital Citizenship web-page article


Search terms: “Digital citizenship”

How you found it: I found it by Google searching and it was near the bottom of the first page of results.

Who wrote/create it: No authors name is mentioned even though the article is written in first person, none of the other pages contained an authors name.

However Derek Wenmoth (Director of e-Learning at Core Education) coordinated the writing of the article series.

When was it written/created/recorded/published?: It was written in 2013 as part of an article of Educational trends in 2013 written on the Core Education website. Core Education is a professional development website for teachers and educators (“Home » CORE Education,” n.d.).

What kind of publication is it: Educational article (part of a series on education trends in 2013) it also includes a video that covers the same content as the written article.

How credible(believable) do you think it is: I view this article as credible because it is relatively recent having been written in 2013, and it was written for the website of an educational training organization, which advises the government on educational practices and so its is likely to be credible in its discussion on how digital citizenship is taught in schools.

Additionally the coordinator of the article series Derek Wenmoth ( has two diplomas in teaching (so he has appropriate qualifications), and is viewed as a expert on educational policy shown through the fact he has consulted for the government (“Derek Wenmoth » CORE Education,” n.d.).

In 2008 (before this article was written) he was awarded as one of the Global Six which is 6 educators globally recognized as innovative by the George Lucas Educational Foundation (“Derek Wenmoth » CORE Education,” n.d.).

So he has qualification, experience and is considered an expert in the use of technology in education and so I believe as he coordinated the writing of this article it is likely to be credible.

2. Digital Citizenship: The Internet, society and Participation (MIT Press) – Book


Search terms: “What is digital citizenship?”

How you found it:  I use Google Scholar search and it was on the first page of results

Who wrote/created it?:  Karen Mossberger (Associate Professor in Public Administration at the University of Illinois) , Caroline J. Tolbert (Associate professor at University of Iowa in the Political Science department) and Ramona S. McNeal (Visiting Assistant Professor at University of Illinois in the Political Science department) (“Digital Citizenship | The MIT Press,” n.d.)

When was it written/created/recorded/published?: October 2007

What kind of publication is it: It is a book produced by MIT press.

How credible(believable) do you think it is: I believe this is not a particularly credible and valid source because it is dated to 2007. Since then the internet and the use of technology has affected our lives significantly more, especially the proliferation of  social media.

However the authors and publisher of this source is credible because all the authors are associate professors in this field, and it is produced by a respected tertiary institution organization MIT Press.

Therefore although the authors and publication organization are credible, the age of this source makes it no longer credible.

3. Digital Citizenship – Wikipedia article


Search terms: “Digital citizenship” in Google search

How you found it: I found it by Google searching and it was near the bottom of the first page of results.

Who wrote/created it?: Being a Wikipedia article it can be edited by anyone.

When was it written/created/recorded/published? It was originally written in December 2008 and was most recently edited on the 4th of April.

What kind of publication is it: A Wikipedia article

How credible(believable) do you think it is: Although more up to date than the second source, this is not a credible source because it can be modified by anyone, including people who do not necessarily have any knowledge of the concept of digital citizenship.

When people write incorrect information on Wikipedia it may be quite some time before it is corrected (if at all). So I do not view this to be a credible source.

Virtualization technology

  1. Virtualization vs Cloud Computing article in  Business News Daily


Search terms: “Virtualization technology”

How you found it: Google search

Who wrote/created it?: Sara Angeles who writes about technology for Business News Daily. She has written tech blogs for IT companies such as (app development company) and Izea ( a content marketing company) (Angeles, n.d.).

When was it written/created/recorded/published? 20 Jan 2014

What kind of publication is it: An article for the Business News Daily is a business advise publication.

How credible(believable) do you think it is: I think this article is relatively credible, because it’s in a business publication and so an editor would have checked it before it was published. As opposed to a blog post where no-one else needs to check it before it is published.

The author of the article used several quotes from people working in high power positions in large IT companies: VMware, InfraNet, Weidenhammer. This adds to the credibility of the article because it shows the author has done her research. Additionally she included links for readers to learn more about cloud computing which the article was comparing to Virtualization.

The article is dated 2014 which is recent enough to make the concepts it discusses still relevant today.

The article is written with few statistics or quantifiable facts this is likely because it is a high level scoped article discussing the general technologies of virtualization and cloud computing and when they can be helpful, rather than specific details.

So overall due to where it is written,  the use of quotes from industry experts, and its date of publication I believe this is relatively credible in what it talks about for a business audience, but it would not be useful if it was being read by technical audience because they would want to know more specifics and perhaps see some quantifiable facts.

2. Introduction to Virtualization – Eli the Computer Guy  YouTube video


Search terms: I used the search terms “What is virtualization” on YouTube

How you found it: YouTube

Who wrote/created it?: Eli Etherton (known as Eli the Computer Guy on his Youtube channel and website). He has an IT background and works as a consultant, in addition to having a highly successful YouTube channel providing instructional tech videos.

In terms of popularity Etherton’s videos are  “now among the top 1 percent of people listed in the Google preferred lineup of technology-focused YouTube channels”(“Eli the Computer Guy’s videos among top 1% of tech-focused YouTube channels – Baltimore,” 2014)

When was it written/created/recorded/published?  3 Feb 2012

What kind of publication is it: YouTube video

How credible(believable) do you think it is: I believe that this is a credible source because Etherton has a technology background and works as an IT consultant this means he will have to know his subject well. By taking the skills he has gained through this work experience to YouTube he is providing technology videos which are highly likely to be valid and credible.

Additionally if his facts were consistently incorrect it is unlikely he would have one of the most successful tech channels on YouTube.

3. System Virtualization tools for Software Development – Peer reviewed journal article


Search terms: “Virtualization technology”

How you found it: ProQuest research database

Who wrote/created it?
Juan C. Duenas, Jose L. Ruiz, Felix Cuadrado, Boni Garcia, Hugo A Parada G

When was it written/created/recorded/published? September 2009

What kind of publication is it: Article in the IEEE Computer Society periodical journal

How credible(believable) do you think it is: Apart from the age of this source it is very credible because it is written in a peer reviewed scholarly journal. The journal article  will of had to have been read and approved by 2 or more other people with knowledge of virtualization before it was permitted to be published.

Having been peer reviewed this means any incorrect informationin the article will of been highly likely to have been identified before publication. Therefore I would say  when this article was first published it would have been one of the highest levels of credibility available however due to its age it is no longer as credible now.


Eli the Computer Guy’s videos among top 1% of tech-focused YouTube channels – Baltimore. (2014, May 5). Retrieved April 6, 2017, from

Digital Citizenship | The MIT Press. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2017, from

Home » CORE Education. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2017, from

Derek Wenmoth » CORE Education. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2017, from

Angeles, S. (n.d.). Sara Angeles | LinkedIn. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from

Argumentative research method

In our Wednesday class we were given a number and asked to research and answer 5 questions about the research method listed on the Google Doc with the corresponding number; Dejan and I got argumentative research method.

So lets get into this:

  • What is it ? (Short description of how it works)

Arguments are used to persuade someone to do something/agree with an aspect of your worldview. This is achieved by two or more different viewpoints being promoted by two or more parties, each viewpoint is backed up by logical reasons (e.g. objective facts) and/or emotional (e.g. subjective truths) to encourage the other party to agree with your viewpoint.

That is how we describe the concept of arguments in a general sense, relating this back to research the argumentative method is known as the Dialectic Method. It is a way to look at secondary research and debate opposing viewpoints to elicit the truth.

Dialectic Method is usually split up into 2 sub-methods: the Socratic method and Hegelian dialectic.

Dialectic research is a form of qualitative research because it uses words and it seeks a subjective truth that both parties can agree on. In other words it deals with people and opinions rather than scientific measurements (quantitative data).

Dialectical research works by comparing a thesis (an idea declared as the truth by one party known as the claimant), with an opposing idea (known as an antithesis). Both the thesis and the antithesis are backed up with reasoning based on facts elicited through others primary or secondary research and the end point of the dialectic method is a synthesis of ideas.


  • What kinds of questions/problems might it be useful for?

The dialectical method is used in research (specifically secondary research) to compare two or more opposing viewpoints which are backed-up with objective and subjective facts to determine which viewpoint is a subjective truth that all parties can agree on. In other words it is the identification of a truth based on opposing primary and secondary research of others.

Therefore Dialectic research would be useful in secondary research to compare the conflicting findings of multiple authors and argue for which is the likely truth.

Being a form of qualitative research dialectic research will fit into the Social Scientific Paradigm which has a Constructivism ontology, and Interpretist epistemology. This paradigm contains other qualitative research methods such as interviews and surveys, however dialectic research will take opposing ideas found through the primary research methods such as interviews and surveys and determine which is the one everyone agrees on.

So dialectic research is useful for evaluating primary research and solving problems that have had primary research performed, but no agreement of different parties.


  • How could it be used in IT research  (try to think of an example)?

Dialectic research can be used in IT research on topics where primary research has been performed and there is still no agreement between different stakeholders, this is because by comparing the ideas and reaching a synthesis the disagreement is solved and action can be taken. Examples are:

  • In a UX team one designer believes that an app they are working on should have a onboarding tool feature to show the user how to use the app, however another designer believes that the app is intuitive enough that this feature is not necessary. After qualitative research, such as multiple surveys by both parties has been conducted, both the designers perform dialectic research to compare the thesis (that the onboarding tool is necessary) and antithesis (that the tool isn’t necessary) and they reach the synthesis that they will recommend the development of an onboarding tool to the client.
  • The decision making process for legislators to decide what limits and constrictions they should place on A.I. research and development


  • What are the strengths of the approach?

Dialectic research is useful in resolving disagreements of opinion, by outlining all opinions and reaching a synthesis of opinion. Therefore it is useful in the analysis of primary research, i.e. it is useful in the decision making process and in performing secondary research.

Dialectic research is very useful in reaching a consensus between all stakeholders allowing a process, implementation or inquiry to move forwards.

Regarding what makes a effective argument in this approach certain attributes should be meet:

  • The thesis and antithesis needs to be worded clearly so you know what is arguing for.
  • Both sides of the argument need to be based on objective facts because this increases the credibility of the thesis and antithesis because it is showing they actually have a logical and objective basis for what they are arguing for.
  • The argument is believable in other words it is similar enough to the worldview of the other party which is based on their personal biases as to make the argument seem credible.
  • Are the facts that are used to back up the thesis and antithesis valid and credible (which can be determined based on the 4 indicators I outlined in ‘What is credibility and validity” research journal entry, additionally are the facts actually relevant to the argument).


  • What are the weaknesses of the approach?

The facts that back up the thesis and antithesis in dialectic research are from primary research and so this approach is not useful in gathering quantitative, or qualitative facts in primary research.

The synthesis outcome of dialectic research is very much based on how well both the thesis and antithesis were articulated, so even if there is a greater quantity of valid and credible objective facts to back up one side of the argument it can still be discounted by the other party if it was not articulated effectively.

A good example of this is the dialectic methods used in the decision making process of politics; if the Labour party opposes a policy proposed by the National party in an argument based on a lot of credible and valid objective facts but does not articulate this objection clearly enough then the public are likely not to care to agree with the Labour party.

Whilst when evaluating primary research or secondary research this research approach is not useful if: the argument claim being made is unclear so the reader does not know what viewpoint is being argued for, the argument is based on emotions rather than objective facts, the claim being made is not believable, and the objective facts being used to backup the argument are made by biased sources, not valid and credible and if the facts are not relevant to the claim being made.


What is ontology and epistemology?

In preparation for next weeks lesson I am going to investigate what I think epistemology and ontology are, their history and how they relate to research.

  1. What is ontology? How is it relevant to research

What is ontology?

The word ontology derives from the Greek words ‘onto’ which is existence/being and ‘ology’ which is study. Ontology “is the study or concern about what kinds of things exist – what entities there are in the universe” (Rouse, n.d.)

Ontology does not just investigate whether things exist, but it also questions how those existing entities relate and if they can be grouped together into logical categories. This is all very abstract so here’s an example: A thought; this is a mental process, but can it be considered as a existent entity? i.e. does a thought exist?

Well there are two sides to this argument: According to Plato’s teachings a thought would be considered an existent entity because it is a noun. This type of ontological justification is known as Platonic Realism

Whereas other ontological thinkers (known as nominalists) did not believe all nouns are existent entities, and so they would probably say a thought is not an existent entity.

It is thought that the first ontological thinker was Parmenides, a philosopher from Magna Graecia (Southern Italy) who lived around 500BC.


(“Parmenides – Wikipedia,” 2017)

In ontology there are two sub-domains:

  • Ontological materialism: This is the belief that physical forces and objects are more real than a non-observable entity like the human mind. In other words, even if there is no human to observe them physical forces like sunlight exist.
  • Ontological idealism: This is the belief that non-observable entities like the human mind are more real than physical forces and objects. In other words reality is based in peoples minds.


Having a science based background here is a example of how ontology can be applied that makes sense to me.

Every organism in the world has a phenotype and a genotype. Simply put phenotype’s are observable characteristics in an organism, that might be fur colour, or body size. Whereas a genotype is the genetic material that actually controls the phenotype.

Is a phenotype more real than a genotype? Well until the last few years genotypes could not actually be observed and so the answer would have been yes. However now with technological advances allowing humans to decode the organisms genomes (the human genome was first decoded in 2001) we can see both the genotype and phenotype.


(“Predicting and Calculating Phenotype & Genotype Ratios/Probabilities – http://www.geneticsmadeeasy,” n.d.)

So this is an interesting example how technical advances change ontological thought. Another application of ontology to this example is that once both genotypes and phenotypes are classed as real the relationship between the two will need to be determined. Well this is fairly easy because the genotype determines the expressed phenotype.

Another way I like to to look at ontology, using an IT perspective is that ontology is similar to the process you go through when designing a relational database:

    1. You look at the problem domain to determine the entities that exist which will eventually have their own table, and you justify why you believe these entities exist in the problem domain

You look at the relationship between the entities which will become the relationship between the tables

In in summing up, ontology investigates the level of reality that something has, and how it relates to other entities.

How is it relevant to research?

Ontology is the questioning of what exists, and how things that do exist relate to other entities. In research we have to look at data (if performing primary research), or information (if we are performing secondary research) and determine what insights there are in the data and how these insights relate to each other.

i.e. We must see/read in the data/information to see trends/concepts existing in it, and then we must see how the trends/concepts relate to each other.

      2. What is epistemology? How is it relevant to research?

What is epistemology?

This is another philosophical concept from the ancient Greek world. In this case epistemology is again from the Greek language; ‘episteme’ is knowledge whilst ‘ology’ is study. The ancient Greek philosopher Xenophone was one of the first people to have epistemic thoughts.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge, it aims to define what knowledge is, and question if what you have is knowledge based on three criteria (discussed below).

Epistemology states that knowledge is made up of three concepts: belief, truth and justification.

  • Belief – We must believe our knowledge is valid, this concept does not assume that the knowledge is correct but just that we believe it is.
  • Truth – To know something means that it is true, you cannot know something if it is false.
  • Justification – To know something means that you must be able to justify it, whether that is through observable facts or experience.


(“Epistemology – Wikipedia,” 2017)

To ensure that our belief and justification of our knowledge is solidly based we have to align it with the related concept of skepticism. Skepticism is basically the devils advocate making us question our knowledge to make sure we can actually class it as knowledge, i.e. does it meet the three criteria: truth, belief, justification.

In other words I see skepticism as the gate keeper ensuring everything we think of a knowledge is actually valid.


(Jorgustin, 2012)

There are two sub-concepts of skepticism:

  • Academic skepticism – This is the belief that our senses can fool us, and so it considers knowledge of the world is impossible
  • Pyrrhonian skepticism – This encourages people to doubt and question everything

How does epistemology relate to relate to research?

Primary research involves gathering data and refining it to information. Whilst secondary research gathers together information from many credible sources, but the thing they have in common is that the information gathered is analyzed to gain insights; it is these insights which are considered knowledge.

Knowledge that we gain through primary and secondary research must consist of the epistemic components of being  believable, justifiable (this is where critically analyzing the source and comparing opposing arguments is used to determine a justifiable conclusion), and based on the truth.

Whilst skepticism relates to research because it is the way we check that our insights are valid knowledge i.e. we question our insights to make sure they are justifiable, believable, and truthful.

  1. What is the connection between ontology and epistemology in a research context?

Ontology investigates a problem domain (this could be the world or an environment where a new information system is needed) and it identifies entities, defines them, and determines how they inter-relate.

Whereas epistemology ensures our research insights are built on a basis of justification, belief and truth.

So I see the connection between these two philosophical concepts as ontology identifies insights/trends in information as well as the relationship between the insights/trends forming knowledge whilst epistemology is the process of validating the knowledge. For example critically analyzing  the sources to ensure credible sources covering all viewpoints is used in secondary research.

Rouse, M. (n.d.). What is ontology? – Definition from Retrieved March 10, 2017, from

Parmenides – Wikipedia. (2017, January 29). Retrieved March 11, 2017, from

Predicting and Calculating Phenotype & Genotype Ratios/Probabilities – http://www.geneticsmadeeasy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2017, from–genotype-ratiosprobabilities.html

Epistemology – Wikipedia. (2017, March 7). Retrieved March 11, 2017, from

Jorgustin, K. (2012, April 24). Healthy Skepticism: A Survival Trait. Retrieved March 11, 2017, from



What is true and truth? Class notes

Today we got into groups (I was in a group with Jonathan, Becca and Jared) and we discussed some very in-depth questions about what we think truth and reality is.

The point of this exercise (in addition to getting us thinking about what ‘true’ is) was to see how everyone has different answers to these intellectually challenging questions, in some groups peoples answers were totally different to those of their team mates.

In my groups case we quickly worked through the answers writing our individual ideas into a Google Doc. We all seemed to have fairly consistent opinions on the answers to the questions and so there was not a lot of verbal debate.

Whereas David and Harry’s group had a lot of discussion and debate when answering every question.

But why did the members of David group all have different answers?

Well each persons answer to the question ‘what is true?’ is based on their personal bias. A personal bias is basically our worldview based on our experiences. Because my group had very few disagreements in the writing of our answers (which I tried testing occasionally by asking the others about what they thought of the answers written for some of the questions) it could be hypothesized that we all have relatively similar personal biases in relation to the topic of truth.

Here are the answers my group agreed on:

  1.  Is there a  difference between ‘knowing’ something and ‘having knowledge’ of something? Explain

Knowing something is to have a light or little understanding of the thing or simply the knowledge of its existence. I.E you heard something from one source

Having knowledge is having an in depth understanding of the thing I.E you heard something from one source but then backed up that from several other sources.


  1. What is ‘truth’?

“The quality or state of being true”

“That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”

“A fact or belief that is accepted as true.”

The most popularly believed and backed up belief of the populace


  1. What do we really mean when we say something is ‘true’?

It’s our belief and bias that we believe said thing is true. Whereas it may not be proven to be true.


  1. Is there a difference between knowing something is ‘true’ and believing that something is ‘true’?

Can you know something is true? If you can, knowing something is true means that it is true, whereas believing something is true is more a matter of a personal feeling or belief and may not be true to someone else.


  1. What is the difference between subjective and objective ‘truth’?

Subjective truth is something that is believed by person based on how they see the world through their personal bias.

Objective truth is not determined by a personal bias but proven by independent, observable or unobservable facts.


  1. What is a ‘fact’ and  can ‘facts’ change ?

A fact is a piece of information that proves a theory, or truth. Facts can change as technology and scientific inquiry proves a truth incorrect. Many related facts can back up a theory, however science like evolution changes as one theory is proven to fit the facts more closely than another so the current theory is proven untrue.


  1. How do we discover if something is ‘true’ or not ?

To a point we can determine that something is true based on which answer has the most raw data backing it up. However this does not necessarily ensure the that answer is 100% correct. Only that is it is true at the time.

Its should also be noted that this true can often be skewed by what the general populace believes and religious, cultural, etc influence


  1. “We do not see things as they are but as we are” Anais Nin. What does this mean?

We view the world through a worldview based on our upbringing and personal biases, this means that everything that we see is based on ourselves rather than the thing itself.


  1.  “Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”  Einstein. What does this mean?

“Life is a presentation of choices. Wherever you are now exactly represents the sum of your previous decisions, actions and in-actions. At any given time the number of choices available to us is limited not by our capabilities but by our assumptions and awareness. The greater our awareness the greater the possibilities our lives can entertain. A limited awareness puts limits on the possibilities and futures we could hope to achieve”


I can’t remember who said it, but one philosopher said that reality is 2D and that we exist on a painting. Every decision has already been decided for us as it is already painted onto the campus.

Stephen Hawking said, that he believes the universe we live in has a predetermined destination and path, but that the path and destination is unknown to us, so we may as well live our lives as if the universe was not pre-determined.

  1. Is there a difference between ‘true’ and ‘valid’? Explain!

When something is true it is an absolute, whereas when something is valid it has the possibility of being true but may not be. I.E if you look up a phone number in the phone book then it is a true number, however if you just type numbers in the phone, the number is (probably) valid but may not have a number attached to it.


Class discussion

After answering the questions as groups, we had a class discussion to investigate the different viewpoints of the different groups, and here’s what we came up with:

What is the difference between knowledge and having knowledge?

Knowledge is tacit knowledge. It is information that you have due to having experienced, or made observations. This information is in your mind rather than being external to you (written down) (“What is tacit knowledge? definition and meaning –,” 2017).

For example you can drive a car because you have had the experience of learning to drive, after driving for long enough you can get to the unconscious competence stage of the four stages of competence (discussed below), in other words you can drive without even having to consciously think about what to do.

Whereas having knowledge is an example of explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is “Articulated knowledge, expressed and recorded as words, numbers, codes, mathematical and scientific formulae, and musical notations” (“What is explicit knowledge? definition and meaning –,” 2017). I understand it to be knowledge that is outside of your mind; it is written down or stored externally. e.g. A car manual describing how the car pedals work.

A relevant book that Clare recommended was: To have and to be – Erich Fromm

What is truth?

Truth is often a emotional concept rather than an intellectual concept. In other words we often have a different emotional feeling reacting to something we think is true as opposed to something we think is untrue.

We correspond truth with morality – if something is true it is good.

When we as individuals say something is true it is often based on our beliefs and experiences. Our belief is based on our biases and life experiences.

Something is more likely to actually be valid if it is both observed and believed by a large group of people. I would say this is because there is a reduced personal bias due to a greater sample group, meaning if they concur then an objective truth is more likely to have been discovered.

An example is if you put enough car-denying people in front of cars traveling at speed towards them, and they get flattened then not only are they likely to revise their opinion of cars existence (if they survive) but also they would have observed that cars definitely do exist because they have been flattened by one, and so the objective truth of cars existence has been discovered by a large sample group believing and observing it.


What is a fact?

A fact can be defined differently based on the field it is in.

In scientific research (which is both systematic and has repeatable results) facts are the results of the scientific research and this research can be repeated many times to give the same results meaning that the results are less likely to be based on human bias but instead be objective truths. Of course the interpretation of the scientific facts can be influenced by human bias.

Whereas in social sciences research, like history, it is very subjective and based on the bias of the history writers and the society in which they live. This is because history is written by the winners.

Whilst alternative facts are different interpretations of the same thing.

How do we discover if something is ‘true’ or not?

As I discussed above for scientific inquiry it is relatively easy to prove if something is true or not. Whereas in social sciences it is harder to validate.

4 stages of Competence: This is the belief that whenever we learn anything we go through the following stages as we slowly understand the concept:

  1. Unconscious incompetence (we don’t know what we don’t know)
  2. Conscious incompetence ( we have enough understanding to realize that we don’t understand the subject)
  3. Conscious competence (we understand the subject but have to think exactly what we’re doing when applying what we know)
  4. Unconscious competence (we can do something without having to think).

4 stages.jpg

(Csabai, n.d.)

Relating this to the concept of truth I believe that steps 3 and 4 fall heavily under the concept of subjective truth because we are basing our understanding on the knowledge we have internalized through our personal bias.

In other words I see our personal bias as the window that we see the world through.

As we learn a subject, for example I am trying to learn python at the moment, even though the syntax of the language will be the same in everyone’s understanding (i.e. it is an objective truth that is observed and believed by many people) the way I  understand, internalize and memorize it is based on my ‘window’.

I can hook a piece of syntax onto something that is significant to me e.g. some Python syntax might be similar to another language I already know and so this is a way for me to memorize the syntax which is unique to me. Meaning I am in stage 2-3 and I am gaining a subjective truth of the subject which is tested whenever I run my code, if my code fails then after troubleshooting the error my subjective truth is revised.

This was a fascinating topic and now I am going to investigate what ontology and epistemology are in the next journal entry.


What is tacit knowledge? definition and meaning – (2017). Retrieved March 8, 2017, from

Csabai, M. (n.d.). 4 Stages of Learning any new skill. Retrieved March 8, 2017, from


My initial thoughts on research

  • What do you think ‘research’ is?

I think research is the process you go through to learn new information to make a decision, answer a question or to solve a problem.

To perform research effectively it is important to use multiple sources to understand the full breadth of  knowledge and to reduce the influence of your personal bias on the findings.

It is also necessary to critically analyze the resulting information to determine what is relevant and valid.

  • Do you think you will ever need research skills?

I am studying and working towards becoming a software developer and so yes I do think I’ll need research skills because software development requires a great deal of problem solving skills.

I consider research skills to fall under the category of problem solving, vitally important in the software development field, because you have questions that needs answering such as  how can I implement a particular function in a particular language?, how do I fix this problem? or what does this error message mean?

If I have the latter question I would search the internet specifically developer forums, textbooks, and online tutorials for the error message I am getting and then I must analyze the validity of the answers by testing out the solutions proposed by going through the process of testing my code with all the solutions until I find the solution that stops the error from being thrown.

So as you can see software development definitely does require research skills to be able to find valid answers to technical questions.

  • What do you think a research journal is and who is it written for?

I think the research journal is a collection of reflections, important notes and a place to practice our research skills.

The purpose of the research journal is to both enforce the learning we do in the lectures both through reflecting on each classes teachings and practicing research skills like critically analyzing sources to ensure we are covering all primary sources and not just the sources that agree with our pre-conceived viewpoint.

This research journal is written for me to reflect on my learning journey and practice my research skills and for Clare to see the progress I make.

We had a class discussion about what good and useful features to include in our blogs, and both the class and Clare decided that the following features should be included in the blogs:

* Number of blogs and regularity

* Insights/thoughts and personal opinions

* Referring to previous posts, and comments you have made

* Variety of topics/sources

* Evidence of critical thinking – specifically sources

* Tags

* Search

* Links

* Good titles on posts

  • What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work/ideas and either claiming the work/ideas as your own or stating them without citing the true author using a recognized referencing notation such as APA.

  • Why is it important to avoid it?

From a ethical point of view it is important that intellectual property (work/ideas that have been conceived and developed by individuals or groups) is recognized and celebrated.

Additionally in a pragmatic sense an academic institution like NMIT considers plagiarism a serious offense and can cause the offending student to fail a course and so it is very important to avoid plagiarism.

Reminder: Query about work placement for project

Over the summer of 2016/17 I did an internship at a wonderful open-source software development company in Wellington called CatalystIT (

A wonderful company because they are so passionate about working with and developing open source solutions for clients, thereby handing the clients the source code so they have the freedom to change their solutions if they so wish.

I was working on Koha (Integrated Library Management System (ILMS) used by librarians worldwide to catalog books, perform acquisitions, add new borrowers, etc.).

Specifically myself and the other intern in the Koha team were tasked with the development and implementation of an onboarding wizard to be run after the (rather confusing) existing web installer finished to help the librarian user set up  a library, patron category, patron administrator account (that the librarian user could use to log into Koha after completing this onboarding wizard), item type and circulation rule (the rules determining how long items could be issued, etc.).

For example here is the patron administrator form in the Koha onboarding wizard we developed:

setup patron administratro.png

By providing simple forms in the onboarding wizard for users to create these objects they can log into Koha and have everything set up for them so they could get straight to work.

Having spent so much time both working with open source and thinking about making the user experience (UX) more seamless I have developed a strong interest in both of these topics and so I am in the process of reading up on both topics as much as possible and will often add links to articles relating to these topics in this blog to analyze them.

But back to the point of this reminder, I was fortunate enough to get a part time job working for CatalystIT from Nelson after my internship finished. I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to get some experience and to do work placement as my project in semester 2 of this year.

I asked Clare about the possibility of classing my work at CatalystIT as work placement, and she thought that rather than doing a work placement which requires you to actually be in the office with other IT professionals (which isn’t logistically feasible seeing as I will need to be in Nelson for the SDV502 and PRJ701  classes in semester 2) I could use my work at CatalystIT as a project with the company being a client. This would also give me a staff member at NMIT to liaise with as well. So I really look forward to finding a project for CatalystIT soon that I can write a research proposal for, ideally something similar to the onboarding wizard project I worked on which entailed a lot of interesting challenges and application of UX thinking.