Informatics Research Methodologies
Lecturer's Self Review 2010-11

Alan Bundy


IRM ran in the same format, venue, timetable, etc as previous years.

Student Numbers

Initially, only 4 UG4s, one visiting student, one PhD and no MScs registered for the course -- a drop even on last year's record low of 8 students. Following an email I circulated to all MSc students about IRM, 9 MScs subsequently registered. Some students have reported to me that the similarity in name of IRM to the complusory IRR and IRP is persuading MScs that it would be overkill to take IRM as well. My email seemed to have dispelled that misconception, so something similar may be required in future years. I also need to investigate why the UG4 numbers are again at record lows. Perhaps they need similar encouragement.

How the Module Went

There were 7 lectures in the first 4 weeks, including 2 guest lectures: one each by Jon Oberlander and Perdita Stevens, plus two sessions on coursework. I would like to thank both guest lecturers, especially Jon, who stood in at short notice to replace Frank Keller, who was on sabbatical leave. The 15 registered students, plus a PhD auditing the course, each gave a 25 min research presentation.

The disruption from non-IRM students in AT 4.12 was significantly worse than last year, and often continued after requests to be quiet. Following complaints from the IRM students, I eventually excluded all non-IRM students from AT 4.12. Thanks to Tamise Totterdell for providing signage to assist this exclusion. I think this works well and plan to make this standard policy from now on.

My remaining lectures were videoed by Bob Fisher's team, so we now have a complete set of lecture videos, except for the new guest lecture by Jon Oberlander. Following some initial hiccups, all the videos seem to be in good shape. Thanks to Bob and his team for their efforts.

I provided a complete set of lecture slides and other materials to Sherief Abdallah at the British University of Dubai, who launched IRM there this year. Sherief commented "This course turned out to be much more fun than I initially expected".

As promised last year, I have now completed the set of lecture notes by adding a new set for the lecture on empirical methods. Both Sherief and Paul Cohen, on whose slides this lecture is based, were complimentary about the new notes.

Despite my concerns about Euclid, the registration of students was done promptly, so that students were able to access the restricted material on the reviews. Thanks to the course secretary, Kate Weston, for prioritising IRM to make this possible.

As usual the standard of presentations and other coursework was excellent, with students getting high marks. Deadline adherence was, once again, excellent. Unlike last year, there were no problems with submissions. Return of marked coursework had sometimes to be delayed because of extensions granted to a student.

Marked coursework was returned promptly. The students got an annotated copy of their paper reviews, project analyses and paper rewritten papers. They also got a mark sheet with comments for the presentations, project analyses and rewritten papers. As usual, I was available for 2 'office hours' a week, but few students took advantage of this.

On the whole the module went well, and this is reflected in the student rep's report. Significant criticisms were:

The complaints raised by last year's rep have both been addressed: the disruption from non-IRM students in AT 4.12 has been addressed by excluding them; the extra background reading material for the Frank's guest lecture on Experimental Design was not required this year, as this lecture was replaced by Jon's new lecture on Cognitive Science. Having reviewed the material in Frank's lecture, I think it overlaps too much with my Empirical Methods lecture, which does now have notes. Therefore, I think we will not reinstate Experimental Design next year, so will not need notes for it.

Plans for Next Year

The IRM format seems to be successful, so no significant changes to it are planned. I will drop the Experimental Design lecture, as it overlaps too much with Empirical Methods. I will continue the policy of exclusion of non-IRM students from the lecture room. I hope to get the remaining guest lecture videoed. I'll review the material that students get about IRM, so as to encourage a greater attendence. I'll also address the issues raised by this year's rep, as detailed above.

Once again, I would like to express my thanks to: the two guest lecturers, Jon Oberlander and Perdita Stevens, who helped to make this module a success; the student rep, Alex Davis, for his report and feedback; and Kate Weston and Tamise Totterdell, in the ITO, and the two course organisers, Amos Storkey and Michael Rovatos, for being ever present sources of advice and help.

Home : Teaching : Courses : Irm : Annual-reports 

Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK
Tel: +44 131 651 5661, Fax: +44 131 651 1426, E-mail:
Please contact our webadmin with any comments or corrections. Logging and Cookies
Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all material is copyright © The University of Edinburgh