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Graduate Bulletin Homepage |College of Computing & Information | Informatics Doctoral Program in Information Science

Doctoral Program in Information Science

Doctoral Program in Information Science

The interdisciplinary doctoral program in Information Science is designed for persons interested in advanced study and applied research in the nature of information as a phenomenon, and in the character of the information transfer process, including the creation of new knowledge, the utilization of what is known, and the dissemination of knowledge in both conventional and electronic formats.

Information Science draws upon and integrates theory and application from several diverse disciplines. The Information Science Ph.D. program is a collaborative activity drawn from across the university. Research faculties from several other disciplines also participate.

Emphasizing research, teaching and the application of research findings to professional practice, the program is built on the model of the scientist-practitioner. It prepares graduates for both academic and research careers in Information Science or in a related discipline, and for higher-level management and policy positions in private and public sector organizations.


Applicants must satisfy the general University requirements for admission to doctoral study described earlier in this Bulletin. Admission to this program is highly selective and is based on judgments of the applicant's potential to make a major contribution to theory and practice in Information Science.

Normally, new doctoral students are admitted in the Fall semester. Candidates should have a substantial background of previous academic work, preferably at the graduate level, in a discipline concerned with perception, evaluation and manipulation of information and should possess appropriate analytic skills. Successful international applicants generally possess a prior degree from a U.S. university.

The doctoral admissions committee seeks evidence of energy and commitment to interdisciplinary study, academic achievement and interest in scholarly inquiry necessary for success at the doctoral level, strong oral and written communication skills and an adequate level of technical ability.

While the program is open to those who hold the baccalaureate degree, preference is given to candidates who have completed a master's degree in a comparable or related field.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The program requires a minimum of 60 credits beyond the baccalaureate, plus at least one additional year devoted to researching and writing a dissertation. Applicants who have completed graduate courses or programs may be admitted with advanced standing and be allowed a maximum of thirty credits for courses applicable to the Ph.D.

Course and research requirements are designed to provide the successful candidate with a firm grounding in the social and technical impacts of information creation, use, dissemination and storage. Development of an appreciation and understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of information research is also emphasized.

I. Program of Study

Prerequisite: Computer and Information Technology Competencies. All INF Ph.D. students are required to show competency in four areas of computer and information technologies: networking, web applications, programming languages and databases. Students are required to take one to four modules of INF 523 Fundamentals of Information Technology to meet this requirement. An examination of papers can also be used to waive out of this requirement.

A. Core Courses
The five 2-credit, quarter courses are intended to expose INF Ph.D. students to a variety of issues related to information in various contexts. Students are required to take all five courses.

1. INF 720 Managing Information and Technology in Organizations (2 credits)
This course will introduce information systems research paradigms grounded in organization theory and provide a framework for applying theoretical concepts and empirical tools to the management of information and technology in organizations.

2. INF 721 Information and Society (2 credits)
Relationships between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social action, how social and organizational factors influence information processes and systems, and how the use of ICTs influences our (changing) understanding and experience of dealing with information.

3. INF 722 Information Organization (2 credits)
Text analysis for information extraction, organization of information for knowledge sharing, and visualization of information to support users' diverse cognitive styles.

4. INF 723 Information and Computing (2 credits)
Development of theories and concepts that underlie the operation of information processing and retrieval systems; consequences derived from these theories that should be considered in designing such systems; theoretical foundations of information and computation; technologies and application areas.

5. INF 724 Information Policy (2 credits)
National and international information policy development trends, processes, and conflicts; policy, law, and culture; information economics, industries, and trade; policies of information commodities (e.g. intellectual property, privacy).

B. Research Methods
This research sequence is intended to expose INF Ph.D. students to core Information Science research through becoming familiar with Information Science literature, developing a research plan, actively participating in research with faculty member(s), presenting research through poster session(s) and presentation(s), and developing research method and analysis skills. It consists of two major components: 11-12 credits of coursework and attendance at and participation in an annual INF Research Conference.

1. Research Seminar Sequence
A four-semester sequence of 1-credit research seminars (INF 711, INF 712, INF 713, INF 714) will facilitate an understanding of information science literature and research and development of students' research agendas. Taken for the first four semesters in sequence, students will interact with faculty while learning about their current research; begin to use and evaluate information science literature; learn research techniques, such as writing a literature review, maintaining a bibliographic database, presenting a poster session and presenting current research at a conference; and develop research relationships with faculty and other students.

2. Annual INF Research Conference
All INF Ph.D. students are required to attend the annual INF Research Conference. First year students plan and coordinate the conference, while also presenting at the poster session. Second year students present their current research with a faculty member. Third year and later students are encouraged to present their current research. This INF Research Conference develops a research community while offering opportunities for students to learn about research being done by other faculty and students in Informatics, and to hone their own research and presentation skills.

3. INF 710: Research Design in Information Science
All INF Ph.D. students are required to take a 4-credit INF research methods course. Students will examine research issues in information science at an advanced level, focusing on appropriate research design, data gathering techniques and analysis relating to data collection and measurement. Students will explore the research design process from both qualitative and quantitative points of view.

4. Additional Research Tool Requirement
Students will take at least one statistics/analysis course at the doctoral level, working with their Ph.D. advisor to find the best fit. This course may be chosen from those offered throughout the university, selected to be specific to their field of concentration. Although the requirement is for a quantitative course, students are strongly urged to take additional quantitative and qualitative courses to round out their research analysis skills.

C. Specializations
The Information Science Ph.D. program currently offers primary and secondary specializations in Decision and Policy Sciences; Geographic Information Science; Information Assurance; Information, Government, and Democratic Society; Information in Organizational Environments; and Knowledge Organization and Management. All INF Ph.D. students normally select one primary and one secondary specialization. Primary specializations generally consist of six to seven courses, plus necessary prerequisites and include a comprehensive field examination. Normally, a secondary specialization consists of three courses and does not require a comprehensive examination. Self-designed secondary specializations require approval of the INF faculty.

1. Decision and Policy Sciences (DAPS)
The Decision and Policy Sciences specialization is concerned with the appropriate use of information and quantitative and substantive analyses to support judgment and decision-making on issues of importance to policy, administration, and management. Methods emphasized within the field include multivariate statistics, judgment and decision analysis, systems modeling, evaluation, operations research, and economic analysis.

2. Geographic Information Science (GIS)
The advanced specialization in Geographic Information Science focuses on the theoretical foundation of spatial data representation, analysis, and visualization and its broad spectrum of applications.

3. Information Assurance (IA)
Born in the context of the development of secure operating systems, IA has blossomed into a truly interdisciplinary area of study that deals with providing assurance that all aspects of information systems maintain the essential criteria of Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Today, the field of Information Assurance extends to a wide array of topics including secure operating systems, protection of assets, preventive/detective/protective/deterrent/corrective measures relating to incidents on computer networks, disaster planning, information protection, computer & network forensics and auditing, cryptography, Steganography, and intrusion detection.

4. Information, Government, and Democratic Society (IGDS)
This concentration focuses on the role, use, influence and consequences of information and information communication technologies in government and democratic society. Researchers in this area study how people interact with government, public institutions, political organizations, and other citizens through communication technologies, focusing on the social and political impacts of technology-enabled discourse.

5. Information in Organizational Environments (IOE)
Contemporary organizations are built as webs of information exchange and flow. The study of information in these organizational environments requires a multidisciplinary approach. This approach draws its knowledge, theories, and methods from a host of social sciences including information and communication studies, sociology, psychology; and business, education, and public administration.

6.  Knowledge Organization and Management (KOM)
All aspects of knowledge representation, organization, management and retrieval for information/knowledge in all formats and their use. Substantive areas include classification and categorization structures to represent knowledge, models of indexing and classification systems to aid in the construction of dictionaries and thesauri, models to facilitate visualization and retrieval of information.

7. Business Information and Decision Systems (BIDS) - CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
The BIDS specialization focuses on topics pertaining to the management of information technology and the development of solutions for business problems. There are two tracks: (1) Decision Systems Modeling and (2) Empirical Research on Information Technology. Decision Systems Modeling involves analyzing complex business systems and network architectures to solve complex, unstructured business problems relating to data and system security, information quality, and management decision-making. The second track, Empirical Research in Information Technology, entails building analytical and operational models for a variety of IT issues (e.g., IT Implementation, Knowledge Management, and Supply Chain Management) using empirical data. Specifically, it focuses on the use of causal models to propose and develop theory that explicates the relationships among relevant constructs.

II. Qualifying Requirements
In lieu of a qualifying examination, the Information Science doctoral program requires each student to meet a series of qualifying requirements by the end of the second semester. The qualifying requirements include
a. a formal review of academic achievement during the first two semesters by the student's program chair, concentrating on both the quality of performance in classes and the timeliness of this performance,
b. a formal agreement (Program of Study form) about the scope and content of the student's proposed academic program, including the student's primary and secondary areas of specialization, submitted at the end of the second semester, and
c. a formal sign-off by the student's program chair and committee attesting to the student's progress in his or her doctoral program, submitted at intervals between the end of the second semester and the end of coursework, determined by the student's program chair and the student.
Normally, qualifying requirements are met when a student submits the formal Program of Study form at the end of the second semester and at intervals to be determined by the student's program chair and the student, and signed by the student's program committee and the Director of the Information Science Ph.D. Program.

III. Comprehensive Examinations
The general comprehensive exam will be administered after the core courses are completed and will consist of two sections:
 The first section will be a question selected from one of three prepared in advance by the faculty.
 The second section will be a literature review on a topic of the student's own choosing.

The primary specialization comprehensive exams will continue to be the responsibility of the specialization committees. Normally, each specialization will require one paper of publishable quality as part of the exam. In order to meet the publication requirement, the student would:
 Get a peer-reviewed paper published, OR
 Present a paper at a peer-reviewed national or international conference.

IV. Full-Time Study in Residence
Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily. Graduate assistants holding a full assistantship may meet the full-time study in residence requirement by completing one academic year in such a position, including the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 9 registered credits per semester plus satisfactory completion of assigned duties. Students already working in a university-based teaching position or in employment involving significant research may petition the faculty for a waiver of this requirement.

V. Apprentice Teaching Option
The proposed INF Ph.D. Program offers an apprentice teaching option in order to teach in the Information Science Undergraduate Program. The sequence is as follows:
 Student—successfully take/waive INF 523 Fundamentals of Information Technology
 Apprentice Teacher—normally fulfilled by being a TA under direct guidance and supervision of a master teacher for an undergraduate course
 Journeyman Teacher—normally fulfilled by being an instructor for an undergraduate course with own section under the guidance and supervision of a master teacher.

VI. Admission to Degree Candidacy
Formal admission to degree candidacy occurs after successful completion of all prerequisite, core and research courses with at least a B (3.0) average, research tool requirements, qualifying requirements, and both parts of the comprehensive examination process, assuming that full-time study in residence requirements have been met. The student is recommended for admission to degree candidacy by the program faculty on recommendation of his or her program guidance committee. Admission to degree candidacy occurs only with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies acting on recommendations of the Graduate Academic Council, the program director and program faculty.

VII. Dissertation
Upon admission to degree candidacy, the student begins formal work on the dissertation. Students should obtain the detailed statement on the doctoral dissertation from the program director.

Last updated on 11/5/2008