Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Libraries and Information Society (LIS) Research Group meeting

The LIS Research Group had a meeting yesterday, with research students and staff in attendance. Elizabeth Chapman, Halima Egberongbe, Joseph Essel, Stephen Pinfield, Angharad Roberts, Barbara Sen, Kondwani Wella and I each talked briefly about the aims and methods of our current research. Some interesting questions arose e.g. to do with sample selection and the meaning of "pragmatic" in a research context. The next meeting of staff and students on November 14 will also focus on exchange of information on current research, and the following one, on 12 December takes as its theme "How do you select a theoretical framework and research approach?"

Friday, 12 October 2012

Designing an e-procurement decision support system (by Mohamed Adil)

My proposed research focuses on the design of decision support systems (DSS) using Multi-criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA).  The study uses published mathematical models to study and design a suitable model for a public sector e-procurement DSS. The research will also develop a prototype, thereby providing a new tool for practitioners and researchers in the area of MCDA.

The research focuses on the public sector in the Maldives: in particular, the education sector.

Public sector procurement has a rigid structure enforced by law and regulations. The features and characteristics of public sector procurement are based on major public sector principles such as non-discrimination, equality, transparency and proportionality. This results in an organised step-by-step procedure for public sector procurement. However, this research focuses only on decisions that are based on the performances of the suppliers against a preset list of criteria.  These criteria allow public sector institutions to state differentiated priorities when they announce for bids or tenders. This situation creates a context in which MCDA techniques can be applied to the evaluation. 

There are multiple MCDA methods. However, the applicability of these methods to the problem context is not known due to the multiple constrains and expectations of the public sector. This research will study the applicability of a set of published MCDA methods to the problem context. The MCDA methods used in this research involve linear weighting methods, single synthesising criterion (or utility theory), outranking methods, fuzzy methods and mixed methods.

The process steps of the methodology involve an awareness of the problem at first, followed by suggestion and development of an artefact, and finally evaluation and conclusion of it.  The methodology used here follows a set of specific guidelines provided by information systems (IS) research scholars for such IS research projects.

To support the process steps of the research project, a literature review was done, field research was carried out, and some selected documented data on procurement evaluations were collected. For the field research, focus groups were conducted to enhance awareness of the problem, to help to make more specific suggestions, and to support the development of the artefact.

The literature review of literature concerning MCDA models literature helped made it possible to compare the public sector requirements and constraints against the characteristics of MCDA methods. This approach helped filtering and suggesting alternative methods to that might be appliedy.

The collected data sets are to be used to apply the artefact to evaluations, The results of this exercise are to be statistically and mathematically evaluated in order to determine the usefulness of the artefact.