An excellent example of international cooperation is an article prepared during the student mobility under the Erasmus + programme, published in a prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal. VIKO Electronics and Computer Science students Pavel Kovalevski and Dovydas Sakalauskas (Computer Systems study programme), who studied under the Erasmus + programme at the Polytechnic Institute of Gaya (ISP Gaya) in Portugal, deepened into the open source for big data exploration and analysis.

The students, along with Professor Fernando Almeida (Director of the School of Science and Technology at ISPGAYA) , co-authored the article „An Open Source Platform for Big Data Exploration and Analysis”, which was published in the International Journal of Business Information Systems (2021). Volume 38, No. 3).

In the summary of the article the authors have written: Despite the enormous potential of big data, it is a relatively new issue for many companies, particularly for those of a smaller size which  look at this as a challenge, and something unattainable and only possible for companies with high financial capacity. However, open-source software presents itself as an excellent alternative for these companies, which will allow them to exploit the high volume of data they have at their disposal. In this sense, this study presents a proposal for an architecture based exclusively on open-source software that includes the entire value chain of big data, from data collection to data analysis. This architecture was tested considering three emerging scenarios in which big data become very relevant and challenging, namely for mobile analytics, network analytics.

When asked about student participation in the research process, Professor Fernando Almeida welcomed the productive results and agreed to share some thoughts on student involvement in research.

What is our students’ participation in the research process?

Students were involved in a process of applied research in the context of the Support Decision System module. In this class, the students are expected to acquire practical knowledge in the field of building decision support models supported by a data warehousing architecture. The challenge presented to the students was to propose a technological architecture in big data using exclusively open-source technologies. This is a current theme of great relevance since big data should be accessible to small companies and this study demonstrates that the adoption of big data can be achieved without large technological and financial investments.

Is this natural practice at Your University to include students for collaboration in the article(s) preparation?

This is a challenge of great relevance that is being posed to us by the certifying bodies of higher education in Portugal (i.e., A3ES). It is requested evidence of student participation in applied research projects. We recognize it as a demanding challenge which cannot be addressed in all disciplines. However, in some modules of the course we address this challenge. These modules are chosen according to the topics covered, the exploratory potential of the contents, and the experience of the professors in scientific production.

What good practice do You collect for encouraging and engaging students into the science world?

The involvement of students in applied research processes enables the teaching and monitoring of the work to be customized according to the students’ motivations. This helps students to explore very recent topics and have them actively participate in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. However, this situation presents some risks that we intend to minimize. First, many of the projects are of high complexity and are not fully completed within the semester. There is often the need to work with students outside the classroom. Another difficulty is the demanding nature of some journals that have very low acceptance rates and extremely long revision times. This can be a demotivating factor for students as they do not see the results published until several years after the work is completed.

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