Didactic Concept Research Project

The module “Research Project” takes 30 ECTS credits in the curriculum of ITIS making it the biggest module in the Master program along with the Master's thesis.

In the course of the research project, students will learn specific scientific work under realistic conditions. The ITIS lecturers have a very high research and project experience. Thereby, a wide selection of international research projects at institutes and chairs is established to allow the students a realistic insight into the work of scientists in the field of Internet information system technology. Moreover, the L3S Research Center, based at the universities of Braunschweig and Hannover, is a very strong partner with a variety of project proposals for the program.

The basic idea of this module is to actively involve students in ongoing research projects of the different institutes. They directly participate on current research under regular supervision and in close collaboration with experienced scientists. This results in mixed teams of students and staff. The knowledge gained in the active research work is to be deepened and applied in the Master's thesis. The organization of the research project includes in particular that the students get a permanent workplace at the corresponding institution to guarantee the spatial and social proximity which is essential for a successful completion of the project.

During the implementation of the project, a close collaboration between the students as well as the other project workers and the supervisor takes place. In this connection, the students work on clearly defined sub-tasks of a larger project, which they receive from their supervisors at regular meetings, edit them as needed either independently or in cooperation and integrate them into the overall progress of the project. One of the main objectives is that the work in the research project takes place under "realistic" conditions of modern team-based project work in computer science research (e.g. mixed teams with participants on different experience levels, such as students, doctoral students, postdocs, professors, etc.; editing realistic research products such as journal or conference articles, project reports, conference posters, prototype development, etc.).

These conditions naturally differ from project to project, therefore each supervisor and/or mentor is expected to adapt each specific embodiment individually to his/her student to ensure a meaningful implementation in terms of sharing the workload, attendance time, homework time and task allocation as well as quality assurance.

The objectives of the research project are to learn and practice basic scientific competencies. This includes in particular:

  • Incorporation into a specific scientific topic
  • Critical searching for relevant literature
  • Critical dealing with third-party work and preparatory work
  • Identification of research problems
  • Developing solutions
  • Evaluation of solutions
  • Written report of research results
  • (Co-) work on publications and involvement in the publication process
  • Scientific presentation and discussion of results
  • Teamwork, planning and communication skills

Each of the institutions involved in ITIS represents a list of available research projects at which ITIS students can potentially participate. Hereby, the mentor advises his/her student on the reasonable selection of a project. After the project choice each student is assigned a project supervisor within the project, who is responsible for the instruction and supervision of the student. In addition, a second supervisor is determined, who is not actively involved in the project, but who has expertise in the chosen field of research. The second supervisor can also be located at one of the other universities. He/she is primarily responsible for quality assurance as well as to ensure the objectivity (e.g. in the evaluation of the final report). Nevertheless, he/she observes and gives advice on the integration of the student in the project and can also provide expert advice and feedback in general.

Each project is formally registered at the examination office and becomes valid by the signatures of the student and the supervisor.

The research project typically extends over two semesters (second and third semester). During this time, the students typically work on a single topic. By arrangement, two (minor) topics are also possible. Alternatively, the research project can be carried out in full-time in one semester (e.g. in the complete third semester). During the project, students work embedded in an existing research group (usually other students, academic staff and/or professors) in the "normal" scientific research community (including, for example, production of publications). Furthermore, the daily cooperation offers the practical testing of the necessary soft skills (elementary for each scientist) as well as the opportunity of developing one’s own personality (e.g. in the areas of team and communication skills, organizational and planning skills, representation of opinions).

The performance assessment will be based on three ungraded academic achievements.

  • The module is completed with the creation of a technical report, which is an ungraded examination. It is possible and useful, if in cooperation with the staff of the supervising institute a scientific publication is prepared from the results of the research project, which will be submitted at a national or international conference or journal. In case of a successful release, the technical report will be also closely based on this publication.
  • The assessment as well as the finding of a grade (pass/non-pass) rest on the responsibility of the project supervisor and will be documented with a written opinion. During the assessment mainly self-provision and the quality of the scientific work of the student shall be evaluated. However, it should not be seen as a negative aspect when a promising research topic did not lead to the intended research results as long as the student worked with all due diligence and scientific excellence.
  • In addition, this module contains two ungraded course works (“Studienleistungen”), each of which includes a presentation of the student’s project progress to the extent of 20 minutes. These presentations are given on both colloquia events (e.g. the ITIS Welcome Day at the beginning of each semester and the ITIS Research Day at the end of it); further appointments can be set up on demand. All ITIS students attend these events. The colloquium will thus promote the exchange amongst the students as well as give information on the content and progress of each project. Hereby, the venue of the colloquia rotates each semester by one ITIS location to the next.

The module "Research Project" is flanked by further specialist modules (lectures and/or seminars) of at least 15 ECTS credits. They shall be selected upon consultation between the student and the project supervisor from the general modules offered by ITIS. These modules are intended to expand and deepen those professional skills, which are needed for the project topic (such as project management, rhetorical skills, working in (virtual) teams, etc.).

From the experience gained in ITIS so far, it can be recognized that many students after starting their Master program already have some concrete ideas about the research area, in which their future research project will be based in. Therefore, the research modules can be often heard as a preparation prior to project commencement. Otherwise, they are attended concomitantly.