Subject:     Advisee question: possible dissertation topics?
Date:     Thu, 19 Feb 2009 06:07:38 -0600
From:     Cory Allen Heidelberger
To:     Deokar, Amit [academic advisor]
I’m looking to narrow down choices for the dissertation topic. Here are four possible dissertation areas. I still don’t know if any of my interests fit into the dissertation paradigm, but they are topics that I could quite happily occupy myself with for a year or more. If you can give them a once-over and offer a thumbs-up or thumbs-down:
  1. I’d like to build a prototype of the Citizen-Legislator Discourse System that I talked about back in 614 and worked on for the SRI last year. We can’t implement the legislator side of it, but we could work on the citizen information and discourse part of the system. I could build it, test it, run it during the 2010 legislative session, evaluate user satisfaction, and offer future directions for research, design improvements, and actual implementation. The project would also include a rich review of existing legislative websites and private initiatives to educate and involve citizens in the legislative process.
  2. I could build on the e-participatory budgeting project we’re talking about here in 838. Doing the project at the local level would synthesize some of the local e-govt research I’ve been doing for the 890 seminar.
  3. Moving further afield, the Northwest Area Foundation’s Horizons project coordinates rural community development projects across South Dakota and several other states. Earlier, they used an online reporting system for community participants to report the progress of their local efforts. The system did not work well. For an 18-month cycle of projects beginning in 2007, the Horizons project implemented a new community blogging system to serve that reporting function. I think there could be a great case study here, comparing the design and performance of the two systems, talking to the designer (Griff Wigley from Northfield, MN) for perspective, interviewing Horizons staff and community members across South Dakota about their satisfaction with the community blogging system.
  4. Another case study: South Dakota high school speech coaches are adopting a software solution to handle KM and DSS for tournament management. There could be an interesting study here of satisfaction among a community of practice with the non-mandatory adoption of a new system. Coaches did have to adopt the system for one tournament, but there was an interesting progression of adoption for other tournaments. There could be some interesting discussion of resistance and advocacy. As a veteran of speech activities and regular tournament judge, I have almost complete access to the practitioners for interviews and documents in this case. Plus, as a tournament director here on campus, I would have an opportunity to implement the software myself and offer direct experience with the technology.

If any of those sound close to dissertation-worthy material, let me know, and I’ll happily narrow down my work and bulk up for the formal proposal. Thank you.