Skip to main content
Completed 0%
0 / 37
You are currently viewing this course as Guest. Please log in to check how to enrol into the course and get full access.

Research methodology, pragmatics, ethics

Course description

The course provides a broad view of how to become and progress as a researcher. It spans over a wide range of topics, from the historical development of scientific thought to research methodology, to the pragmatics of publication, research funding, evaluation, and promotion in a researcher’s career. It also stresses the ethical aspects of research. Although the course speaks about scientific research in general, it especially focuses on the field on Information and Communication Science and Technology.

The course is mainly directed to students engaging in research and beginning researchers. It may also be of interest for senior researcher in their role as supervisors or mentors, and to all those who are interested in how scientific research works. The main topics addressed in the course are:

  • Research, its historical development, and its role in society;
  • Research methodology;
  • The products of research: publications and artifacts;
  • The professional researcher: roles and career progress;
  • Research evaluation, from peer review to bibliometrics;
  • Research ethics.

Intended Learning Outcomes


No prerequisite knowledge is required.


The forum of this MOOC is freely accessible and participation is not guided; you can use it to compare yourself with other participants, or to discuss course contents with them.

Topic outline

  • Week 0 - Introduction

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 1 (“Research and its context”)

    Week 1 has an introductory and motivational purpose. It faces the following questions: What is science? What is scientific research? What is the relation between scientific progress and the progress of society? What is the relation between research and innovation? Why should researchers engage themselves publicly?

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 2 (“Research methodology”)

    Week 2 focuses on research methods. It discusses the interplay between invention — the creative act that identifies an interesting open problem and a possible solution — and validation — the meticulous process through which the identified solution is critically evaluated. It briefly discusses the historical evolution of the notion of a “scientific method”, through which research results are validated, mainly developed in the context of physical and natural sciences. Then it broadens the analysis to other kinds of research, and in particular ICST research.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 3 (“The products of research: publications and beyond”)

    The results of research (its products) are used to develop further research and lead to industrial innovations and societal changes. Week 3 focuses on the diffusion process of research products. The main way of diffusing research results is through scientific publications. The traditional publication process is analysed and recent trends towards open access are also discussed. Other kinds of research products, which take the form of artifacts, like data sets or research prototypes, are also discussed.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 4 (“The researcher’s progress”)

    Week 4 focuses on the researcher’s career progress in his/her professional life, from being a researcher-in-formation to becoming a junior independent researcher to maturing into an established research leader. In particular, it discusses the skills one needs to acquire and provides tips of advice on how to progress successfully.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 5 (“Evaluating research”)

    Week 5 focuses on evaluation in research. Evaluation is key to research, as for any intrinsically competitive human endeavor. Researchers are evaluated for hiring, funding, and promotion. Research units (groups, departments) are also evaluated for funding. Even global institutions (like universities) are evaluated and ranked internationally. Traditionally, evaluation is performed via peer review. Increasingly, other forms of evaluation based on quantitative indicators — such as bibliometric indicators — have been emerging and are increasingly used. Quantitative indicators are discussed and critically analyzed.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Week 6 (“Research ethics”)

    Week 6 focuses on the ethical issues involved in doing research. It defines the notions of ethics and misconduct. It discusses misconduct in proposing, performing, reviewing research or reporting research, focusing in particular on plagiarism, breach of confidentiality, conflict of interest. Possible ethical aspects involved in the specific research are also discussed. Research can involve or affects humans, other organisms, or the environment. This is traditionally well understood, e.g. in life sciences. Increasingly research in all areas of technology is getting closer to humans and touches ethical sensitive issues.

    Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
  • Additional resources


Your final grade for the course will be based on the results of your answers to the graded quizzes. You have unlimited attempts at each quiz, but you must wait 5 minutes before you can try again. You will have successfully completed the course if you achieve 60% (or more) of the total course score. The maximum score possible for each quiz is given at the top of the quiz. You can see your score in the quiz on your last attempt or on the 'Grades' page.

Certificate of accomplishment

You must be registered in POK through Politecnico di Milano personal account to obtain the Certificate of Accomplishment. It will be released to anyone who successfully completed the course by achieving at least 60% of the total score in the graded quizzes and filling the final survey. 

You will be able to download the Certificate of Accomplishment directly from Politecnico di Milano web services.

The Certificate of Accomplishment does not confer any academic credit, grade or degree.

Information about fees and access to materials

You can access the course absolutely free of charge and completely online.

Course faculty

Carlo Ghezzi

Carlo Ghezzi

Carlo Ghezzi is an Emeritus Professor at Politecnico di Milano. He has a long experience as an educator, as a researcher, and as a supervisor and mentor of young researchers. He is an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, a member of the European Academy of Sciences, and of the Italian Academy of Sciences—Istituto Lombardo. He received the Outstanding Research Award from the ACM Special Interest Group in Software Engineering.

He has been on numerous international editorial boards of journals and conference committees. He has also been a member of numerous international research evaluation committees. His research has focused on different aspects of software engineering. He co-authored over 200 papers and 8 books. He supervised 25 PhD students and mentored several post-docs. He coordinated several national and international research projects.

Contact details

If you have any enquiries about the course or if you need technical assistance please contact For further information, see FAQ page.