Computer Science (COMP) 494

Research Methods (Revision 1)

COMP 494 Course Web site

Revision 1 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: None

Students in this course are required to contact their tutor using email or the course (Moodle) forums. Please see the Tutor and Coordinator Support page for more information.

Centre: School of Computing and Information Systems

SCIS Orientation

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Computer Science 494: Research Methods is a three-credit, senior-level course designed to introduce research—the systematic investigation that attempts to establish facts on a scientific basis. Students will review a published article; conduct a literature review; identify a research problem; and undertake activities relating to sampling, measurement, reliability, validity, data collection, statistics, data mining, simulation, optimization, graphical modeling, research ethics, survey research, correlational research, experimental research, research methods specific to information sciences, action research, research management and qualitative research.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course successfully, students will be able to

  • evaluate the qualities of a research article.
  • review and compare and research outcomes.
  • formulate research hypotheses.
  • examine and evaluate statistical methods used to conduct data analysis and inference.
  • select computational techniques from information sciences for data analysis and inference.
  • evaluate and recommend research management techniques.


Computer Science 494 comprises the twelve units listed below.

Unit 1: What Is Research? Research Problems, Hypotheses and Literature Reviews

Unit 2: Sampling, Measurement, Reliability and Validity

Unit 3: Data Collection and Statistics

Unit 4: Mining, Simulation, Optimization and Modeling

Unit 5: Research Ethics

Unit 6: Survey Research

Unit 7: Correlational Research

Unit 8: Experimental Research

Unit 9: Popular Research Methods in Computing and Information Systems

Unit 10: Action Research

Unit 11: Managing and Presenting Research

Unit 12: Qualitative Research


To receive credit for COMP 494, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent), including a grade of at least 50 per cent on each assignment, and at least 50 per cent on the invigilated final examination.

Unit 1: Assignments (3) 10%
Unit 2: Assignments (4) 10%
Unit 3: Assignment 5%
Unit 4: Assignment 10%
Unit 5: Assignments (3) 10%
Unit 6: Assignment 10%
Unit 7: Assignment 5%
Unit 8: Assignment 10%
Unit 9: Assignment 10%
Unit 10: Assignment 5%
Unit 11: Assignment 10%
Unit 12: Assignments (2) 5%
Final Examination 0%
TOTAL 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

This course has no textbooks, because topics in research methods are too varied and too broad to be discussed in a single textbook or two. Instead, the instructional content is available in the form of web links to reading and viewing assignments. The Study Guide and all other materials are also online.

Special Course Features

This course depends on the factors deemed crucial for online learners: interaction with study activities, engagement in competency activities, involvement with content, communication with the tutor or coordinator, and peer-to-peer interaction. The design of this course ensures a more hands-on approach to online learning, with a particular focus on continuous and micro-assessments.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, March 12, 2012