Screening Exam Questions 2008


AIS stands for the Association for Information Systems, which is our professional association. Currently, the Association is redesigning its website and automating several of its processes. Imagine that you have been hired to develop a database which will contain all papers published by AIS members, such as:

Tim S. McLaren, David C. H. Vuong, and Ken Grant, “Do You Know What You Don’t Know? Critical Reflection and Concept Mapping in an Information Systems Strategy Course”, Communications of the AIS, Volume 20 Article 54 December, 2007

  1. Describe the complete relational database for this purpose, using an ER – Diagram. Choose 3 tables from your design and describe these 3 tables and their relationships in detail. Be sure to explain the attributes (PK etc) in those tables and the relationships between them (1-M, M-N etc). 
  2. One problem you will encounter is that author order is important for publications (e.g., being first author is much better than being 2nd author). You cannot “just” save the entire author list as 1 string but need to save author names in a separate table (to make searching for authors efficient). Explain why this would be a problem with a relational database and discuss potential solutions.


Several basic approaches to modern software development exist. These are sometimes depicted as occupying points along a software development method continuum, with waterfall methods at one end, agile methods, such as XP or lean development, at the other end, and iterative-incremental methods, such as the Rational Unified Process (RUP), somewhere in between.

  1. Conceptually, what is the basic idea that defines this continuum? 
  2. In practical terms, what is the main difference between how the RUP works and how traditional waterfall methods work? 
  3. In practical terms, what is the main difference between how XP works and how the RUP works?
  4. What conditions might make one prefer each of the three approaches 


  1. Consider an ARQ protocol running over a 20-km point-to-point fiber link.
    1. Compute the propagation delay for this link, assuming that the speed of light is 2 x 108 m/s in the fiber. 
    2. Suggest a suitable timeout value for the ARQ algorithm to use. Why might it still be possible for the ARQ algorithm to time out and retransmit a frame, given this timeout value?
  2. Compare and contrast the three access mechanisms FDMA, TDMA and CDMA used in wireless cellular phone networks. 
  3. Comment on the statement: “The end-to-end design philosophy of the Internet is no longer valid”.


Given the following assumption, provide brief answers to the following questions:

Scientific knowledge consists of those beliefs that have been established as true through the practices that scientists employ to articulate and test beliefs. 1 

• What are the purposes of scientific knowledge?

• What are its desirable characteristics?

• What role does theory play in its advance (assuming it does)?

• What role does observation play?

    1 To establish a belief does not mean to prove it, but to bestow tentative acceptance on it.


In the New CIO Leader (2004), Marianne Broadbent and Ellen Kitzis outline ten “new” CIO priorities. Among these are:

• Lead, don't just manage
• Understand the fundamentals of your environment.
• Create a vision for how IT will build your organization's success.
• Shape and inform expectations for an IT-enabled enterprise.
• Create clear and appropriate IT governance.
• Weave business and IT strategy together.
• Build a new IS Organization
• Build and nurture a high-performing team in your IS organization.
• Manage the new enterprise and IT risks.
• Communicate IS performance in business-relevant language.

This prompts the question: What is so new about these issues? Please compose an essay that discusses: 1) how present-day industry trends surrounding IS make these management issues more or less timely, 2) where IS literature has been strong in providing research relating (either for or against) these priorities, and 3) where you think more IS management-related research attention is needed (either in terms of these ten priorities or others you might suggest). While you need not address each of the ten priorities, your essay should address at least a core subset. Also, while the essay calls for your perspective on these priorities, in each segment of your answer you should substantiate your view through reference to specific IS peer-reviewed research on the topic.


When Applegate et al. update their book on corporate information strategy, what changes do you visualize? In other words, what material (topics) will be reduced or deleted, and what material (topics) will be increased or added? Is there a chance that the authors will not update the book? Explain.