ICT80008 Professional Issues in IT – Briefing Paper
Your task in Assignment 1 is to write a briefing paper on ONE of the following topics:
Note that several topics could well be researched from a technical or from an application/societal context perspective. In this unit, it is not appropriate to take the technical perspective, except where technical issues impact on the application of the technology in context. For example, if your topic is ‘cloud computing’, you should focus on how organisations use cloud computing, what the issues faced by ICT professionals are, where the impediments to using the technology are (legal, regulatory), etc., rather than on the detailed hardware and software technologies needed to implement cloud computing.
- Big Data, Analytics & Visualisation
- Surveillance in the workplace
- Cloud Computing
- Data Profiling
- The self-quantifiable movement
- Green IT / ICT and Sustainability
- Diversity in the IT Workplace
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
- Codes of Ethics
- Professional Codes of conduct for ICT professionals
- Professional Codes of conduct in ICT in different countries
- Outsourcing & Offshoring
- Technology 4 Good
- A topic of YOUR choosing to be agreed with your tutor.
Description of Assignment
Your briefing paper leads into Assignment 2, the Group Report.
At the start of semester you will join a select group of your classmates to form a project team. Towards the end of semester your team will then produce a report on “Current Challenges Facing the ICT Professional”. Your individual briefing paper is the start of your group-based research geared towards developing that report. Your team will bring together their individual briefing paper topics, develop a shared set of questions and approach an ICT professional to gather their thoughts and insights in the form of an interview. The analysis of the interview will form the foundation of the group report.
So, what is a Briefing Paper?
A briefing paper (also known as a Research Briefing, Research Briefing Paper or in an academic context, a Literature Review) is a concise summary of findings that is written for an informed, although not necessarily an expert, targeted audience. When writing a briefing paper, the needs of the target audience must always be borne in mind, regardless of what we write and the form that it takes.
A key characteristic of a briefing paper is its ability to update readers on an issue’s current status quickly and effectively. The challenge in writing a briefing paper is to be thorough but also succinct, and this requires a writer to judge what information to include and what to leave out. A briefing paper distils complex information into a well-structured document so that a reader gains a full understanding in a few pages. No decision-maker has the time or resources to thoroughly research every issue that comes before them and a briefing paper is a means of providing decision-makers with the information they need on issues they are responsible for.
Further information and guidelines about briefing papers & reviews of literature are provided inside the unit’s Assignment 1 folder on Blackboard.
Skills to be developed
Writing the Briefing paper is designed to help you develop the following skills:
- Reading at different levels of depth. You cannot read all the papers your survey must cover. Identify the key papers and read them all in the traditional way. If you are using some of them for your presentation you may want to read these twice and/or try the ideas on some examples of your own. Other papers you might only skim (see more detail below).
- Locating relevant papers. The most obvious starting point for identifying sources is an internet search, and/or search in the library. To go beyond the initial sources, there are various methods that you can use. Look in the bibliography of those papers you have already got to identify other authors in the field. This will only take you backwards, however. To go forward, look for recent publications by the same authors or other papers on this topic. You can access the www pages of the authors of key papers, or you can email them. You can skim through relevant journals or conference proceedings. You may find the Library’s online resources useful for tracking down papers electronically.
- Organizing the material. It will not be enough to merely record who said what when. You must try and relate the common ideas in the papers you have read. What were the key ideas and when and by whom did they appear? How were they propagated? What were the dead- ends? What are the rival approaches and the hot issues? An issue-based organization of the survey will be preferred to a merely historical account, i.e. try to tell a story about the development of the research.
- Managing your time. 15-30 hours is not a lot of time and can easily be dissipated in undirected reading and fruitless searching. You must structure your activities to make efficient use of your time. Leave plenty of time for writing the review. Do not leave everything until the week before the deadline.
How should the briefing paper be constructed/presented?
The briefing paper should be constructed with an Introduction, Body (where you review your literature) and Conclusion and Reference List.
A visual guide to assist you in moving from the very broad content topic to a refined research outcome for your topic is provided in figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Structure of review
How many references/sources are required?
The briefing paper should include approximately 10 sources. These sources should be based around a mix of academic publications such as books, texts, (serious) magazines and peer-reviewed conference proceedings and journal papers, and not just internet references, and they must be correctly referenced in-text as a mix of direct quotations and paraphrases and also listed at the end of your document in a reference list, using the Harvard referencing schema.
The validity of the material you provide is strengthened by inclusion of articles from peer-reviewed literature; often internet material is simply in the form of ‘opinion pieces’, lacking validation and generally written to support the author’s possibly biased opinions. References to core information (rather than opinion) on Wikipedia are no substitute for references to the original source material upon which the Wikipedia article was written – it is always better to read the source, and then to refer to it and I hope that you will follow this advice.
NB: a reference list is a list of ONLY the information sources you cite in your work whereas a bibliography is a list of all the information sources you cite in your work and other sources you have looked at while preparing your work but did not actually use.
You are required to construct a reference list, not a bibliography.
You are not expected to read all literature on your topic in fine detail; in fact, one of the skills to be learned is the ability to read papers and other items at different depths. You are expected to locate the key papers and read them in detail and to get a general idea of the contents of other papers to place the total discussion in context.
Challenges likely to be faced by you
The particular challenge of the group report is creating a structure that synthesizes your disparate topics into one coherent report. This requires collaboration. Obviously if that collaboration takes place early, around the choice of topics, that structure of your report will be much more coherent.
Developing the professional skills of research and communication required to write effective papers is important, and will commend graduates to employers. Reviewing accumulated knowledge is an essential early step in the research process, (whether researching to write an academic paper, or to develop a presentation or, as here, researching to produce a business briefing paper).