I'm sorry if this is a bit subjective, but I really don't know where to find the truth.

In my hometown, lecturers usually will only approve research in computer science & information system where the result is new software. The goal is creating a software that can be used directly by business. Usually, research that can't be 'seen' and used directly will be rejected and considered useless.

As in my university, lecturers said that creating new software is a type of research called a quasi experiment. Students are expected to perform the following activities: gathering requirements, designing UML models, and implementing the source code. In the seminar (final exam), lecturers will ask a lot about business process and customer satisfaction. No maths. Most questions are subjective and hard to prove.

Is it true that creating a fully functional software or web site like this is a kind of quasi-experimental research?

  • Which level? Undergrad/Master/PhD? – Zenon Jan 24 '13 at 17:01
  • It is Undergraduate major. – newbie Jan 24 '13 at 17:02
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    This attitude towards research sounds rather bone-headed to me. However, I'm not sure if this question is better suited to academia or cs.stackexchange.com – Suresh Jan 24 '13 at 17:13

As undergraduate research, you mostly don't have the time, experience nor support to create a full fledge project from scratch. By that I mean creating original work in you field. Thus, given the scope of the project, implementing a software is a valuable exercice that can also be really useful for research. For exemple, in my domain (bioinformatics) there is a special issue of NAR (Nucleic Acids Research) solely devoted to webservers. The latest issue can be found here.

I think one of the big issues you are facing (in almost every field) is that the amount of knowledge you get when leaving the bachelors has been pretty constant for the past 50 years. At the opposite, the level of new research has grown exponentially in these time. Thus, the gap to create something new is constantly growing.

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  • You're right, students get a lot of experience from developing software like this. Do you think a simple research on User Interface (HCI) backed-up by surveys and scientific methods will be more 'scientific' than developing a website by trial and error? – newbie Jan 24 '13 at 17:47
  • HCI is a really cool field which I don't know really well, but certainly full of potential. If you could do a few mock ups with survey and then try to analyse the different comments that could be highly valuable. If you have a lot of motivations, you could probably find a few papers to guide your research. As a terribly vague starting point, you can find a list of journals (probably not exhaustive) in that field here: idemployee.id.tue.nl/g.w.m.rauterberg/hci-journals.html#HCI – Zenon Jan 24 '13 at 17:53
  • I've tried but lecturer will reject it because the research can't be used directly! They don't think HCI is a useful research because no direct benefit. – newbie Jan 24 '13 at 17:55
  • Well, if you can develop a framework that given a few options automatically creates some webpage with a predefined look, that could be awesome (and "useful"), but probably really complex. I must say I find it a bit sad pushing for 'direct' benefits, since you never know what is going to happen next... – Zenon Jan 24 '13 at 18:06
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    Unit-Test! And wiki has an article on pseudo-science en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasi-experiment . If you want to continue discussing we should probably go to the chat. – Zenon Jan 24 '13 at 18:24

Depends what your definition of an experiment is:

 1. a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact

This covers scientific programming, but not a lot of other areas of software development.

 2. a course of action tentatively adopted without being sure of the eventual outcome

Well, for sure all software development is done without being sure of the eventual outcome! You have hopes, you try stuff, you analyze its consequences, you find a way of improving the software or mitigating the issues, and you learn something.

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  • what about quasi-experiment? is it part of point 2? is it scientific? – newbie Jan 24 '13 at 17:50

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