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INFO-B 691 Thesis/Project in Health Informatics

1-3 credits

  • Prerequisites: None
  • Delivery: Arranged
  • The student prepares and presents a thesis or project in the area of health informatics. The product is substantial, typically multi-chapter paper or carefully designed and evaluated application, based on well-planned research or scholarly project. Details are worked out between the student and sponsoring faculty member.

    About this course

    This course is an independent study to demonstrate your mastery of the health informatics master’s curriculum. There is no syllabus for the class as each project/thesis is different, yet a detailed guide is published on our website.

    You can enroll in 1, 2, or 3 credits for the course. Carefully consider how much time you can devote weekly to the project/thesis. A graduate independent study averages about 8 hours per credit.

    What do I need to submit at the end of the semester to get a passing grade?

    Most are defined in your pre-assessment form but in general:

    • 1 credit = lit review, background, and proposed approach
    • 2 credits = same as 1 credit + method development and data collection.
    • 3 credits = all the above plus analysis and write-up for publication and presentation.

    Hence adjust the number of credits you enroll for according to what you are sure you can complete. And do not forget, you are leading the project or thesis. The faculty is here to guide you throughout the process.

    Thank you for enrolling in INFO-B 691 to cap your master’s education. Each of you has a different topic and approach, yet many will encounter similar problems. Share and discuss with your peers in your and other sections of B691.

    No grade Incomplete (I) will be given for this course.

    Thesis or Project?

    To decide which to choose, it is important to know the differences between the thesis and the master’s project.

    Preparation Prospectus submitted for approval to Committee and to Graduate School: submission of the Pre-Assessment Form for official approval before enrollment in the course Prospectus/Proposal submitted for approval by Committee: submission of the Pre-Assessment Form for official approval before enrollment in the course
    Process of data acquisition or activity Design and conduct experimental, historical, qualitative, descriptive, or descriptive research Develop the project and all component parts relevant to your specific plan; Execute the proposed activity.
    Process of interaction with graduate faculty Independently created and completed effort
    Include data collection, analysis, and synthesis
    Creative process and completion of the project with faculty critique
    Result Produce written paper that includes review of literature, description of and data analysis, subjects and setting, and discussion
    Demonstrates critical and/or creative thinking
    Recital, performance, exhibition portfolio, or other project; written or electronically recorded documentation
    Demonstrates critical and/or creative thinking


    Thesis: If your goal is to earn a Ph.D. and enter academia, completing a master’s thesis is likely to better prepare you for doctoral research and dissertation, in terms of research design; qualitative and or quantitative methods; and understanding the related academic literature in your field.

    Project: If you plan to go into industry, you may be better served by doing a master’s project in collaboration with an industry partner. If an industry partner is not available, choosing a project in your area of career interest is advised. You’ll be able to apply your project work directly in practice, and it will improve your skills in achieving outcomes that will prove valuable to your career.

What to expect

By the end of the first year, the student will select a master’s project/thesis committee chair who is a member of the graduate faculty, has an appointment in our school and is authorized to chair a master’s project/thesis. This individual will assume responsibility for advising the student about course selection, graduation requirements, and master’s project procedures.

  • Project/thesis possibilities include, but are not limited to:
  • Developing a project that fits into a larger framework
  • Conducting a Systematic Review
  • Designing and implementing a piece of an ongoing research project
  • Conducting a substantial background literature review

You will be responsible for understanding how to perform all required components of your project/ thesis, which may require you to independently pursue additional learnings outside of the standard course materials. You will need to keep your Committee chair informed of any specific areas requiring additional learnings.

If a master’s project or thesis is related in any way to your professional work, you must describe for your advisor how that topic and your job are distinct. You must be able to explain how the work you’re doing as a part of your master’s project or thesis goes above and beyond what you ordinarily do for your job.

General Guidelines to Follow:

  • Students must have a brief project or thesis plan before meeting with an advisor.

Need help coming up with ideas? Plan to attend the project workshop held weekly by the HI program.

  • Students can start working on their project or thesis after the first year, but can only earn credit for it after completing the required course work (27-33 hours).
  • Complete and submit the Pre-Assessment Form, and get the form signed and approved by the master’s project/thesis Committee chair before registering for INFO-B 691.
  • Enroll for either the INFO B691 Project or INFO B691 Thesis class under the committee chair to proceed with the work.
  • Note: Approval from the IUPUI Institutional Review Board (IRB) is required if you plan to conduct a study using human subjects or clinical data in any way.

Many informatics projects will be exempt from full IRB review. However, the IRB must grant the exemption. Research with human subjects that is not approved by the IRB constitutes scientific misconduct and is subject to disciplinary action. The student is responsible for obtaining IRB approval. This process should be started as soon as possible during the first step of master’s work. Direction on how to get approval or exemption by IRB can be found at Kuali Coeus (KC) on OneStart.

Health Informatics Thesis/Project Rubric


1. Meet the Primary Thesis Advisor and discuss the topic of interest for Thesis.

2. Selection of the Thesis committee consisting of Thesis committee chair, one faculty advisor and an external/internal thesis advisor.

3. Discuss the topic of interest with the thesis committee. Develop the research question, research design and the intended outcomes of the thesis.
4. Submit the approved Thesis pre-assessment form.

5. Follow the guidelines for thesis below.

6. Thesis defense to the thesis committee, other faculty members and peers.

7. Incorporate changes required as suggested by the Thesis Committee and other faculty members.

8. Submit the final thesis write-up and wait for comments and grades from the Thesis committee.


1. Meet the Primary Project Advisor and discuss the topic of interest for Project.

2. Selection of the Project Committee consisting of Project Committee chair and at least additional one faculty advisor.

3. Discuss the topic of interest with the Project Committee. Develop the scope, duration and the resource requirement of the project.

4. Submit the approved Project pre-assessment form.

5. Follow the guidelines for project below.

6. Present the project to the Project Committee, other faculty members and peers.

7. Incorporate changes required as suggested by the Project Committee members and other faculty members.

8. Submit the final version and wait for comments and grades from the Project Committee.

Guidelines for the M.S. Project

  • You will work during the second step with your master’s project Committee. It is important that you meet with your master’s committee on a regular basis, such as once every week or two (not less than once a month).
  • During this period, you must prepare your final write-up. While there’s no strict restriction on length, it’s typically around 40-50 pages, and must be complete and formatted in APA style. (Sample is provided on SOIC website).
  • Once the project has been completed and written up, it will be submitted to the Master’s Committee for approval, at least two weeks before the end of the semester. If the final project is not completed and submitted by this time, the student will automatically receive an “F” and will have to retake the course.
  • You must present your project before a faculty and peer group on the last Friday of the semester (date and time will be decided by week 4 of the semester). You will have 15 minutes to present your work and 5 minutes for Q&A.
  • You will make any corrections requested by the Master’s project committee during the presentation. Follow project guidelines for document formatting requirements.

The final submissions of the Master’s Project include:

  • Revised technical report (Box link)
  • Presentation (can be in the form of a PPT or other types of media)

Outline of a well written Thesis/Project typically includes:

  • Abstract: A summary of the objectives and accomplishments. Typically one page.
  • Objectives: Describe the problem you set out to solve and the solutions you have achieved
  • Introduction: Describe the main concept of the thesis/project. Establish the context. Discuss why this problem is important. Briefly describe the problem and development process you will follow.
  • Background and Literature Review: Provide a survey and a critical review of related prior work.
  • Analysis and Requirements: Describe the problem, enhanced with theoretical model to support your research /project design. Describe the research questions (quantitative) and or the phenomena of interest (qualitative).
  • Design: Describe the research design, including the sample size the research context. If applicable, describe software reuse, design patterns, special coding techniques, etc. Describe your rationale for the design decisions with supporting data collected from prior studies. Describe the specific tools and techniques used in subchapters if applicable.
  • Results: Describe the results from your research/Project. Describe unexpected finding, outliers, if any.
    Validation of results: Describe the validation approach.  Describe sample test plans and test results.
  • Discussion: Describe how your research/project solved, addressed or explained some the issues defined in the background and literature review
  • Conclusions
  • Appendices

The individual sections of the project may vary depending on the specific topic and nature of each project; generic samples are available and can be accessed via the following links:

The Characteristics of a Good Thesis or Project Report

It is important when writing a thesis or project to consider those who will eventually read it.  In the immediate future these may be the examiners, but later, when the document is bound and in a library, many future students may read it.  A thesis or project report is a long and complex work, and it is helpful if it can be written and structured so that readers are able to navigate their way through it reasonably easily.

It should be written in a clear style which, while doing justice to the academic requirements of the subject, does not use unnecessary jargon.  It often helps if the document is subdivided into chapters and sections so that the reader can readily follow the developing argument.  There should be an easily followed thread of argument running through the document, so that readers never reach a point where they are unsure how one section has led to another.  To sum up, the document should be coherent.

The document should have clear aims/goals which are enumerated near the beginning and which provide a rationale and framework for the remainder of the work.  The document then sets out to explain the way in which the research/project meets those aims/goals.  If some aims/goals are only met partially, then this also is explained.  Finally, the conclusion reviews those aims/goals, and discusses the ways in which they have been addressed.  In a sense, the aims act as an integrating link throughout a good research/project, setting out the intentions of the research/project at the beginning and providing a focus for the results and conclusion at the end.

The aims are also very important in influencing the choice of theoretical perspective and methodology.  The overall research/project design should be appropriate to the aims/goals.  For example:

  • If the aims/goals of the study are to examine/address broad trends across a number of different locations, then the research design needs to use survey techniques (possibly questionnaires).
  • If the project intends to provide an assessment tool of the social context of a group of respondents in a single setting, then a case study, ethnographic, or interactionist perspective may be more appropriate.

Unstructured or semi-structured interviews may be selected as the data collection procedures or evaluation tool. In terms of writing the thesis/ project report, it is important to make these connections clear, and to demonstrate the way in which the design has evolved from the need to address the aims/goals.

Within the document, there should be an adequate review of the relevant literature.  The literature selected should be sufficiently contemporary to demonstrate the way in which the study/project is building upon recent research.  While there will undoubtedly be extracts from different studies and articles, these should not be so numerous that they obscure the prose you write. You need to achieve a balance between the number and length of quotations, and the main objectives of the thesis/project.  Quotations and extracts should supplement the arguments of the work.

While these macro issues in writing are important, you also should pay careful attention to detail.  Small errors can be very noticeable. Proofread the document carefully, to keep typographical, punctuation, and grammatical errors to a minimum.  Check referencing carefully, so that details of works cited match in different parts of the thesis.  Consistency is very important.  In a good thesis, there will be consistency in the way the thesis is written and structured.  This applies, for example, to the spelling of technical terms, to the use of acronyms, and to the way in which subsections are set out and numbered.

Start the document with a clear and well-written abstract.  Many readers in a library will read the abstract before deciding whether or not to read the whole document.  The abstract should provide succinct overview of the whole research project described in the thesis.  It should summarize the context of the research, the aims/goals and design, the results and the conclusion.

Finally, it is important not to forget the title.  Rather like the abstract, this encapsulates the nature of the study.  Writing a good title is almost an art form in itself. The title should not be excessively long, but it should describe precisely the nature of the thesis, and ideally include some of the key words associated with the subject of the research/project.

Although we will revisit many of these issues later, it does help at this stage to have an idea of some of the broad features of a well-written thesis.

In a Nutshell

  • A clear title and abstract that accurately and succinctly reflect the nature of the study.
  • A structure and format that help the reader to absorb the subject matter.
  • An intellectual coherence that starts with precise aims/goals from which follow the design, and a clear conclusion.
  • Accuracy in grammar and punctuation.
  • Consistency in referencing presentation and the use of terms.


Barnes, R. (1995) Successful Study for Degrees. London: Routledge.
Kelly, P., Coates, H., & Naylor, R. (2016). Leading online education from participation to success. Educational Studies Moscow.
Northedge, A. (1990) The Good Study Guide.  Milton Keyes: The Open University


There is not a syllabus available for this course.