CIS PhD candidates must choose one primary focus area and two secondary focus areas in which they will be given comprehensive exams. The program was established with eight focus areas that represent intersections of the interests and expertise of the four sponsoring units. Over time, focus areas have been dropped and added to keep the program relevant to current concerns and faculty and student interests. Presently we have the following eight focus areas:
Biomedical Informatics, an emerging interdisciplinary field, is comprised of Bioinformatics (which finds itself at the intersection of Biology and Computer Science and includes Genomics, Proteomics and related fields), and Medical Informatics (which finds itself at the intersection of Medicine, Public Health and Computer Science).
Communication & Information Theories
Comm Theory is concerned with historical and current theories about the role of communication and information in personal, cultural, social, political and economic realms.
Communication Policy & Planning
Comm Policy/Planning is concerned with models for the formation and implementation of communication policy and planning in world, national, and local arenas that bring about or inhibit social, economic, and technical development in communication systems and their environments.
HCI is concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use, and with the study of major phenomena surrounding their use.
Information Systems and Services
The ISS (formerly Information Storage & Retrieval) focus addresses all aspects of organizing, retaining and retrieving information, including file storage and indexing methods; information retrieval and search strategies using controlled subject vocabulary queries, free text searching, citation indexes and impact factors, and page rank algorithms; personalized information systems including user modeling and user profiles; and information filtering systems.
Management Information Systems
Management Information Systems (MIS) addresses the technical and social dimensions of emerging information technologies (IT) in business contexts, including organizational and social aspects of IT, IT architecture and business alignment, information assurance, security, systems development, governance of global outsourcing, and electronic commerce.
Social Informatics as defined elsewhere (e.g., http://rkcsi.indiana.edu/ and http://www.social-informatics.org/) is quite broad, encompassing most of the focus areas of the CIS program. In the CIS program, the Social Informatics area is distinguished by a focus on how technology supports interaction and other associations between people, and how people appropriate that technology for social purposes. Interest in this area is driven by interest in new applications, but the area is defined by phenomena and issues we can expect to continue as the applications and technologies change. These more enduring phenomena include: how technology enables the formation of new social entities, and the transformation of existing social entities; how ideas emerge, move around and are transformed in socio-technical networks; and how individuals and social systems interact and transform each other. The interactions or associations studied in Social Informatics can be at different scales including dyads, "groups," "communities," or loosely associated networks of persons. The emphasis is on the interplay between features of the technology and social phenomena.
The safety and security of information is paramount for the health and sustainability of organizations. While historically information assurance and cybersecurity focused heavily on technical solutions, today’s view of information assurance is highly interdisciplinary, requiring solutions from fields as diverse as psychology, sociology, business, economics, and the law.
The CIS program is periodically updated to reflect changes in information technologies and their roles in society, and similar changes in interdisciplinary concentrations of our faculty areas of expertise and student interest. The following areas were discontinued in 2010 in favor of emerging new areas. Many of the topics covered by these areas may still be pursued by students in the context of focus areas above.
This area is generally concerned with computer networking and telecommunication, focusing on the fundamental design principles of networks, network architectures and layers, communication protocols and security issues, network management and design, and specific network services, applications, and types of networks of practical importance, including the web, e-commerce, the Internet, TCP/IP, Ethernet and wireless networking.
Theory and research in the Organizational Communication focus area is concerned with communication as a central process in organizations, including the strengths and weaknesses of communications systems, the use of information technologies in organizational contexts, and the interaction of communication with organizational cultures.