A total of 804 applications were submitted for the 2019/20 grant competition, 747 of which were approved for expert evaluation having been checked for compliance with official requirements, including plagiarism checks.

Based on the results of the official selection, the contest committee announced the names of 100 winners, with five lecturers included in the backup list. 

The competition’s winners will receive a grant of up to 500,000 rubles for the development of new educational programs.

The competition was held in four nominations: a new Master’s program, a new educational course, a new online education course, as well as new methods and technologies in learning. 

English-language course “Research in Science Communication”

Valeria Prokuratova, PR specialist at the Center for Science Communication and lecturer at the Institute of International Development and Partnership, became the first winner. 

Valeria proposed an English-language course “Research in Science Communication”, aimed at the development of research skills among students. 

The course consists of lectures that cover such topics as: choosing a research topic, formulating research questions, identifying a research gap, selecting relevant research methods, as well as ethical matters. Another important part of the course are seminars on working with sources, where students learn to effectively work with academic literature on the topic of science communication. 

According to Valeria, one of the priority goals of the course is to give students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of the latest research in the field of science communication, and accumulate the amount of experience needed for correct selection of working methods.

“The development of this course was prompted by the demands of our program’s graduates, who noted that their Bachelor’s failed to provide them with an understanding of how to build even the smallest and most basic research project. In other words, the research projects the students need to do every semester make them stressed and disoriented,” pointed out Valeria Prokuratova. 

Valeria Prokuratova at the first defense of theses by the students of ITMO’s Master’s program in Science Communication
Valeria Prokuratova at the first defense of theses by the students of ITMO’s Master’s program in Science Communication

Valeria shared that in creating the course she was inspired by Master’s programs at Stockholm University, which pursue the goal of training Master’s students for their future research work. 

“Daria Denisova (the director of the Center for Science Communication – Ed.) and I have long discussed the possibility of introducing this technology to ITMO. She supported my idea, confirming that such a course would indeed be essential for our students,” added Valeria Prokuratova. 

Such courses are already in place at some Russian universities. For example, the Higher School of Economics organizes research seminars, while the European University at St. Petersburg hosts classes on methodology. What makes ITMO’s program different is that it is intended for future specialists in science communication, so that they develop a thorough understanding of exactly how and with the help of which methods research is conducted in this field.

Intelligent data analysis in scientific research

The second grant winner from ITMO University is Olga Kononova, associate professor at the Institute of Design and Urban Studies. 

Olga proposed a syllabus on the topic “Technologies for Data Mining and Intelligent Data Analysis in Scientific Research”. 

According to the professor, existing tools for the search, explication, and analysis of contextual knowledge are in low demand because they lack information both on the tools themselves and the methods and algorithms of applying them in research and in practice. 

The syllabus “Technologies for Data Mining and Intelligent Data Analysis in Scientific Research” is aimed at forming research and analytical competencies among Master’s students. The course will allow students to knowingly apply in their research a comprehensive approach (the synthetic method) to the search and analysis of contextual knowledge, as well as utilize relevant analytical software and environments with embedded services for explication, clusterization and statistical processing of scientific texts.

ITMO University students
ITMO University students

“Our Master’s students obtain research work skills first in laboratories, ITMO’s e-Government Center, and then in think tanks, state agencies, IT clusters of hi-tech companies, business companies of St. Petersburg and other regions. Integrating a new course into the learning process will provide Master’s students with the necessary methodology and toolkit for achieving practice-oriented results that are highly sought after by state structures and the business community,” comments Olga Kononova.

It’s important that the software and information systems used in the syllabus are fully accessible in terms of their license and their web interface. This makes it possible to use them both for independent study outside school hours and during the actual classes. 

The proposed syllabus complies with ITMO University’s educational standard in applied computer science and the contents of the discipline “Technologies for Data Mining and Intelligent Data Analysis in Scientific Research”, which will be part of the curriculum starting in 2021, having superseded the discipline “Information Technologies in Research Activity”.

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